October 11th, 2010
I owe level_head a poem mimicking the style of Service's The Cremation of Sam McGee about this.
This is a minorly edited version of my Burning Man experience.
On my first day there, I was wandering around looking
at cool stuff. People dream up some pretty cool art
projects to put out there. I decided to go art car
hopping. After a number of swaps, I got on the "Bar
It was a pretty swinging double deck bus with a trailer.
Big, loud speakers playing loud music of indeterminate
size. The trailer had a couch and there were stools on
the lower deck. A reasonably fun place to be when you're
out in the middle of the desert.
I was standing on the lower deck, kinda taking things in.
As it happened, someone bumped someone who bumped into
someone else who bumped into me. I fell off the car.
Assessing my situation in mid-air, I tried to hit the ground
running. Considering we were travelling along at 15 miles an
hour, it wasn't a big surprise that I fell over.
I was laying perpendicular to the path of that trailer. IN
the path of the trailer =/
Seeing those wheels coming at you has a way of firing up the
ol' brainpan. I thought about rolling under the trailer, but
there was too much risk of being dragged along. I thought
about grabbing the railing and pulling myself up. Too much
chance of getting my legs caught under the wheels though.
So, I decided to take my chances. While mentally preparing
myself, I thought:
1) Poor relsqui [my girlfriend at the time]. She's going to take this hard.
2) So this is what it feels like to die. This sucks.
3) On the plus side, at least you only have to do it once.
4) Did I _really_ just think that? 
The trailer wheel hit me on the left side of my stomach around
the waist. For some inexplicable reason, the trailer didn't
roll over me, but rather, threw me 5-10 feet ahead of it. By
this point, people were screaming things like "Stop!" and "Oh
I was on my stomach when people started pouring off the bus. I
stood up under my own power. Someone asked if I was OK.
I said "Yeah, I'm alright."
"Do you want to go to the Med tent?"
"That's a pretty good idea."
I hobbled into the trailer and sat on the couch. Some rather
fetching gal sat next to me, put her arms around me, and started
telling people to get me water and a jacket . I turned down the
jacket, but allowed myself to be browbeaten into drinking water.
Suddenly, everyone on board starts offering all sorts of illicit
substances to dull my pain. I turned them down, remembering that
doctors like to have you in pain. Whether to better diagnose the
pain or otherwise is a matter for debate.
When we got to the Med tent, I clambered out of the trailer. A
doctor asked me what's wrong. I said "See that trailer there?
It had a go at me."
They put me on a cot inside while a couple of doctors looked me
over. Me being me, I start in with snippets of conversation and
the odd joke or two. Among the things the doctors said:
1) Dude. You are one with the playa.
2) So much for C-Spine immobilization 
3) Well, he walked in here on his own and he's pretty chipper...
4) Y'know...he does a pretty good impression of Ronald Reagan 
5) I dunno. He looks pretty pale. 
6) Let's cut those clothes off of him.
At this point, I got a good look at what was left of my T-shirt
and shorts. They were indeed well and truly shredded.
The only other event of import that night was getting my wounds
cleansed with hydrogen peroxide. That hurt. A lot. Like the
whole thing where an action hero can take a gunshot, stab wound,
and punch out a bad guy without flinching, yet winces when a
heroine cleans him up became totally clear.
As it turned out, I came out OK. Really evil bruises and giant
scabs where the playa had scrubbed me free of skin. My hip and
back where way out of alignment, too. That made walking difficult.
So, I pretty much ended up sitting around at camp for the rest of
the event. I got to see the man burn because I talked one of my
mates who had an art car into driving me out there.
I'm still pretty scraped up, but walking's gotten a lot better. The
wounds are but a shadow of their former glory.
A couple days after my accident, someone died on the same car. Turns
out that she wanted to go look at something the car was passing by, so
she jumped off and tried running when she hit the ground. She was run
over and killed by the very same tires that had a run at me. I don't
know what was different in her situation, but it certainly makes me
realize just how lucky I am to have walked away from that one. More
so without breaking anything.
I feel really badly for the folks who were running that car. I
certainly don't blame them for my accident. Just rotten luck, I
(Incidentally, if anyone on the list knows them, I'd appreciate it
if you'd forward my condolensces along.)
That being said, Burning Man was still a lot of fun for this gimp.
I had a great set of camp mates and a number of wonderful nights with
aerosol flamethrowers and a Fresnel lens 8)
P.S. I should have pictures of the original wounds soon if anyone's
 In retrospect, going out on a joke like that is way too fitting
for me 8)
 Women...You're single and they barely look at you. Ahhh, but
get run over by a trailer while you have a girlfriend...
 No idea what that means. Dammit Jim! I'm a geek, not an EMT!
 When Reagan went in for surgery after the assassination attempt,
he was supposedly joking around with the doctors. The famous line
from it is "Tell Nancy I forgot to duck."
 Apparently, doctors don't deal with computer geeks very often...
It's worth noting that -- at the time -- relsqui and I had been dating for just under three months. At the time, things were very much new and good (and they continued that way until very near the end of 2007).
The someone who died in a similar fashion was Katharine Lampman. Her tale is eerily similar and told in an email I received a few days later. My understanding is that she jumped off at the same place I fell off and was run over by the same tire which had only struck and thrown me forward.
I remind myself of this every so often. I try to imagine what it would have been like to died that way. What the pain would have been like. It's enough to make me shudder.
One silly note on reading back through this: I remember after I'd been hit and was standing up, there was a big circle of people about 5 paces in radius around me. I remember there was complete silence as I was standing up. It hurt and no one was helping me. I thought about asking for help, but I was curious to see if I could stand up on my own.
Somewhere, in the back of my mind, I thought "This must be what it's like being an abomination created in a necromantic ceremony. Complete silence and horror as you display signs of life by standing up."
When the silence was broken by someone asking "Are you OK?", it was such an obvious question that I almost laughed. I would have laughed if it hadn't been a challenge to actually get up -- my legs were shaky (probably from adrenaline) and I wasn't sure how much of me was in one piece. I expected it to hurt a lot worse and collapse at any moment.
In retrospect, I think the simplicity of the question actually reflected a great deal of surprise that I was able to get up.
You're a tough one, hey? For a computer geek. <3
Chuck Yeager once said, "I'd rather be lucky than good any day of the week."
I'm happy having been in a position to wonder if I am lucky or tough through my various scrapes.
Of course, there's something to be said for being tough and intelligent. Perhaps I am the ultimate Renaissance man -- capable of taking on half-ton, people-laden trailers and software bugs at the same time!
I think I'd have to have an ego to really believe that. Frankly, I'm more interested in where the post-accident pictures went. The only one I can find doesn't really show the carnage wrought upon me and it was genuinely fascinating watching the whole expanse scab over.
WOW, scary times, man! Glad you made it out OK!
But yeah, glad you were lucky enough to come through okay :D
There were a few photos that a guy at camp took. I scanned them in, but I can't find the damn things. The photos are floating around somewhere
in my apartment along with the get well card he sent them with.
spcecdt has one of me asleep at camp
, but my shirt (well -- more accurately, the shirt given to me by the folks at the tent. My shirt & shorts were cut off and discarded. I ended up riding back to camp with only a shirt on.) and shorts cover up a great deal of it.
(I still have that shirt in the far corner of my closet. It's a bowling tournament shirt -- the sort of thing I never would have gotten any other way.)
You can just see the bottom edge of the really nasty one on my right side peeking out the bottom of my shorts. That continued up to where my arm is in that picture. I had a couple smaller ones on my left side both above and below the pelvic bone (which I thought was strange -- that was where the wheel hit me, after all) which looked pretty fun.
I may find them someday. I had a devil of a time finding this post though.