“In 2005, I got in an accident on the way to a job, driving the 46 Chevy pickup truck I built. I went into a turn way too fast."
“I got COVID back in early March, after I went to an outing for seniors. When I started to not feel so good, my roommate said it was probably a 24-hour bug. That night, I woke up wringing sweat and cold at the same time. When the ambulance came, they said my temperature was 103.5. I was in the hospital for four days. The government of Wyoming pisses me off. I am trying to figure out whether to be on Medicare or Medicaid and they gave me a book to read to figure it out. I have to be honest, though, I am illiterate.
I don't get any Veterans benefits. I served two tours in Vietnam Special Forces, starting in 1969. I came back from the second tour on August 29, 1976. On September 3, I put in to go to Turkey. I went to my CO in Fort Bragg to get him to sign off on it. He was at his desk. He looked at me, got up, pushed me and said, ‘You aren’t going f’ing anywhere because you haven’t done a g.d. thing for your country.’ So I laid into him and he was in the hospital for two weeks. I was dishonorably discharged and served two and a half years in a military prison. When I got out and I went to the Veterans office in my town, they told me I would not get any Veterans benefits at all because of what I had done.
In 2005, I got in an accident on the way to a job, driving the 46 Chevy pickup truck I built. I had forgotten to set my alarm clock or overslept or something, so my boss called me at 10:00 and said, “Nick, where are you? We’ve got a job at 12.” It was a government job. So I got up, grabbed a six-pack of Coke, and got in my truck. I knew the road to the site really well. I went into a turn way too fast. My boss was a first responder at that time and he was nearby. People tell me that when he got to the truck, he sat in the road and cried. When he came over and asked people if I was dead, I said, “I’m not dead. I just need a cigarette.” I tried to get him to give me one. He said I had gasoline dripping near my leg and behind me and he couldn’t give me one. I couldn’t feel my legs, so I knew something in my body was really out of whack. The doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester told me I could have one of the best surgeons in the country do the back surgery or I could save money and go back to Cheyenne to have it done. The doctor here has been really busy, so it hasn’t been done.
I’ve been flying this sign [BROKE ANYTHING HELPS] for years now. I consider it my job. I have hours that I keep. I do this seven days a week. People come by and talk. You have fun. My transportation, you see, works pretty well and gets me from my trailer to where I need to go. I can use it to get to here [Albertsons], Menards and Walmart. I have a rainsuit for when it rains. Snow doesn’t bother me, I’m from Minnesota.” -- Nick #Wyoming
NOTE: When I met Nick outside the Albertsons in Cheyenne, it was clear that a lot of people knew him. They stopped by in their cars and chatted and laughed with him. I am not surprised. Nick has a lot of charisma. He also has a really positive attitude, which is not reflected in the quotes above about his life. I sought to focus on how he came to be in an electric wheelchair in front of Albertsons. Now you know too. All it takes is a flash of a moment in time and our lives can change dramatically. Whether it is something we do in a flash of anger or a flash of misjudgment, like taking a turn too fast or texting while driving. If you are ever fortunate enough to meet Nick, you will see that he is making the best of it and giving joy to the people he meets each day. Like he said, "You have fun."