But the book The Long Run isn't about 9/11. He was there. His brother, a fellow firefighter, was there too. A chapter of the book describes his own ordeal that day: How he saved a life, how he worried about the whereabouts of his brother, and how he knew that his very large, close family would be shitting themselves knowing two of their own were at the site. And like many, he lost people he loved, right there in that spot.
But this book is still not about that. It's about his mental and physical recovery after being run over by a bus while riding his bike. Not Hit by the bus. Run over and sucked in under a fucking wheel of a 20 ton bus. The details of his injury make me squeamish so I will just say that among his multiple broken bones and pelvis, he was gored by the seat post of his bike, went through almost 70 pints of blood within the first 24 hours of the accident, and was given less than a 5% chance of survival. And he survived. With the help of people who donate blood, the first responders to his accident, skilled doctors, nurses, and physical therapists, family, friends, and his fellow firefighters, he not only has recovered, he has returned to his former passion of athletic competition. He was and still is a marathon runner and Ironman.
And still, his recovery is not what I want to write about. I'm certainly blown away by his story, but there's something else that sits with me even after I've read the book's last page. This guy is a Mensch.
Long's accident happened during the 2005 Transit Strike in New York. It is the reason he was on his bike the morning a chartered bus made a right hand turn from the far left lane causing the collision. And Long has a few things to say about the striking Transport Workers Union and their president Roger Toussaint.
Now normally I start to bristle when people speak against a Union's right to strike when all they're asking for is better pay for a better life. I always will. Still, Matt Long has reminded me of what real compassion for others really is. And I love to Hate greedy corporations who rob from the poor to give to the rich. I love to hate human disgraces like Ron Paul and Eric Cantor who rally against organizations like FEMA. I love to hate the foul hypocrites who publicize themselves as Christians then do everything they can to NOT support the poor, the sick, minorities, women, blacks, homosexuals, etc. I always will.
Still, here comes my new hero.
Less than a year after 9/11 the FDNY went into negotiations for a new contract, and they waited four years until a deal was struck. While you and I and the rest of the country were applauding them for their heroic deed, they were fighting for a much needed and well deserved raise. They did not strike to get it. I'm sure the waiting affected their abilities to feed their families, but they put other people - strangers - before themselves. And they continued to put their own lives in danger while waiting for it.
That's Selflessness. That's love for your fellow man. That's a Mensch.
Hear that, GOP? Listening, you stupid fucking Teabaggers? Paying attention, people who love to publicize how Christian they are? Even you, my fellow Liberals. Take note. At least Libertarians are willing to admit they're Cunts who are just out for themselves. Everyone who waves our country's flag today or writes a fucking song about how proud he is to be an American needs to think long and hard about what he is thanking the first responders for. Because these men and women didn't run into that hot, dusty, cancer-causing rubble so that a bunch of strangers could one day live to steal and connive and swindle and kill.
Whatever your political platform is, Mr. or Mrs. I Wanna Be President, don't play us with your patriotic rhetoric. Walk the walk.
Every September 11, I think of Spalding Gray's letter to New York City. In it he describes a poster he had of a bumblebee with a caption that read "According to all aerodynamic laws, the bumblebee cannot fly because its body weight is not in the right proportion to its wingspan. But ignoring these laws, the bee flies anyway." He says "That is still New York City for me."
Dear Matt Long,
I hope you find the right one, and I hope you finally raise that family. It's purely greedy on my part, but I want more Matt Longs in this world...
God's Away on Business