«We have to hire a babysitter, honey. I can’t handle three kids, my job and the house,» Taylor’s wife Polly said as they finished dinner and the kids went back to their rooms.
«A babysitter? They’re too expensive and not worth it,» Taylor replied, shaking his head.
He got up from the dining room table and headed for the living room couch.
«Please, Taylor. I have afternoon meetings and, even though they’re a little older now, the kids still need attention. I can’t do it alone anymore,» Polly pleaded.
Taylor grunted. He didn’t like the idea at all. He also didn’t think his wife couldn’t handle it all.
«Her job isn’t even real,» he thought, but he would never say that out loud.
«No, it’s too expensive,» he refused again.
«We have tons of money,» Polly insisted desperately.
«Just because we have money doesn’t mean we have to spend it on unnecessary things. My mother raised me alone as long as she could, and then I managed on my own because my father didn’t care. And look at me! I grew up and became a millionaire. They don’t need a nanny. Just tell them to be good after school,» Taylor said, his tone uncompromising.
Polly sighed and left him alone. Her children ranged in age from nine to five, so they could manage on their own while their mother worked. At least, Taylor thought so. Polly was a writer and worked from home. It wasn’t as complex as going to the office, doing paperwork, meeting with clients, organizing proposals and everything else she did.
A few days later, Polly collapsed in the middle of the living room, and her oldest son, Mark, called Taylor at the office.
«Should I call 911?» the boy asked.
«No! Not at all,» Taylor replied. «Call Mara. Her number is by the home phone. I’ll be right there,» Taylor added before quickly leaving for home.
Mara was his neighbor, a kindly nurse who worked nights. He hardly trusted her, but she was certainly better than any doctor. By the time Taylor got home, Polly was awake and Mara was checking on her. The children surrounded their mother, concerned.
«How is she?» asked Taylor.
«Let’s talk in the kitchen,» Mara said briskly, almost tugging at him. «I think Polly needs to see a doctor. Fainting is not normal for a young woman.»
«We’re hardly young. She’s 35 and I’m 38,» Taylor said, shaking his head.
«That’s young, Taylor. She could be anemic. She needs blood work and a checkup,» Mara insisted.
«No. No. Absolutely not,» he refused, crossing his arms.
«Look, I know you distrust doctors for some reason, but she needs one, or it could turn out worse. Your kids are scared. Please listen,» Mara continued, looking at him intently.
«We’ll do the blood tests, but no doctors. My mother died because some incompetent idiot didn’t detect her cancer. He misdiagnosed her, so I grew up with my abusive father only because she didn’t get treatment in time,» Taylor revealed. No one but Polly knew, «We had home births because of it, Mara. And our children are thriving.»
«Okay. Send for her blood work and I’ll have a friend look at it and make suggestions. But you have to get over your fear at some point.»
Just as Mara suspected, Polly was a little anemic, but after some medication, she seemed to be getting better. After that episode, she asked Taylor if they could finally hire a nanny, but he kept refusing.
«No, you’re better. It’s a waste. Money should be saved only for important things. Who knows what might happen? I’m the CEO of an oil company, but what if I then have to become a minimum wage worker?» justified Taylor.
Polly didn’t ask again.
«I’m late for a meeting. Don’t call me because I’m not answering today,» Taylor shouted as he hurried out of the house one morning.
He had an appointment with an important client and wanted to be on time. However, the universe had other plans because there was a huge traffic jam on his usual route to the office, and the minutes dragged on forever.
He tapped the steering wheel and shook his head impatiently, waiting for something to happen. But everything was at a complete standstill, until he heard the sound of sirens from behind. Taylor looked in his rearview mirror and saw the vehicles pull away, making way for an ambulance.
«Ah, hell no, they’re not going to get out of this traffic jam by pretending they have patients!» said Taylor shaking his head and refused to move his car as the others had done.
The ambulance honked and honked, but he pretended nothing was happening.
But Taylor felt like he was still in hell.
«Hey, buddy! MOVE FOR THE AMBULANCE!» one driver said after rolling down his window, honking his horn.
But Taylor ignored him.
Finally, he saw the ambulance driver, an older man, rushing to his side.
«Sir, please move! I have a boy in the back who needs urgent attention!».
«No, you’re lying just to get out of this jam. I’m not moving,» Taylor said unapologetically.
«Are you serious, man?» the driver asked, shocked.
«Yes. I’m not moving!».
«This is illegal!» the driver said.
«Sue me. Or call the police,» Taylor said with a shrug, not looking at the man.
He stared straight ahead, waiting for traffic to finally move.
«I hope no loved one of yours is ever in this boy’s place,» the driver said, climbing back into the ambulance.
He then maneuvered to make his way along a sidewalk, and other cars let him pass.
After another fifteen minutes of traffic, the roads cleared, and Taylor arrived at the office building just in time. His client had just started talking when his phone rang. He saw Polly’s name flash on the screen, but ignored the call immediately.
«I told her not to call,» he thought as he listened to the client.
However, Polly called again and again until a message popped up:
«Mark is in the hospital! Call me as soon as possible.»
«Hospital?» he whispered, staring at the phone.
«Mr. Brown?» said one of his executives.
«Roger, take care of this meeting. My son is in the hospital. I have to go,» Taylor said and rushed out of the meeting.
His whole body was shaking. Polly knew well his aversion to doctors, so it would have to be a real emergency for him to take his son to the hospital. She knew this was bad. Taylor called her, got the name of the hospital and drove there quickly. Luckily, there were no more traffic jams like that morning.
He didn’t even notice where he had parked the car. He just rushed through the emergency room doors, asked the nurses for help, and finally met Polly outside the operating room, where family members usually waited. Her other children, Jason and Mona, held her legs in fright.
«What happened, where’s Mark?» asked Taylor, distraught.
«He’s in the operating room right now. Taylor, honey. It was serious. His head was bleeding,» Polly explained as she cried, and her young children began to cry as well.
Taylor had to compose himself and hugged his family tightly.
«It’s okay. It’s okay. It’s going to be okay. Mark is in good hands,» he almost crooned. He was trying to convince himself.
A few hours later, a surgeon finally came out. Everyone’s hearts were pounding, waiting for news.
«The operation went well. Your son is recovering in the ICU. We won’t know more about his condition until he wakes up, but the margins look good,» the doctor said, nodding. «We’re moving him now. But we’ll let you know when you can see him.»
Polly dropped to her knees as her emotions got the better of her, telling her children that their big brother had turned out okay. Meanwhile, Taylor approached the doctor and asked for more details.
«Be honest with me, Doc, is Mark really okay?» he asked quietly.
«Yes, he is, sir,» the doctor nodded again. «But only because he was brought in on time. There was a crazy traffic jam, and if the ambulance would have stayed longer, maybe we’d have had a different conversation.»»
Taylor said nothing as the doctor patted him on the shoulder and returned to the operating area, where non-patients were forbidden to enter.
«A traffic jam?» he thought, surprised.
He turned to his wife, who had calmed down a bit.
«Polly, were you in the traffic jam this morning?»
«Oh, yes. I was very worried. For a while nothing moved. The driver even got out and apparently got into a fight with someone who refused to move his car. Who does that?» explained Polly, scoffing at the idea of someone not moving for an emergency. «But the driver got in, drove the ambulance down a sidewalk or something, I freaked out for a second, but he got us here as fast as he could. What a champ.»
Polly didn’t see or notice how quiet Taylor had gone.
«Kids, let’s go get some snacks from the vending machine. We’ll have to wait a little longer to see your brother,» she urged, looking back at her husband.
Taylor had to clear his throat.
«You go. I’ll stay here just in case.»
«Okay,» she smiled a little now that the immediate danger was gone.
But Taylor felt like he was still in hell. He dropped into one of the seats and stared at the wall. He had delayed the ambulance while his son almost died inside. Mark wouldn’t be here if the driver hadn’t been so smart.
Tears welled up in his eyes involuntarily. His chest constricted as he breathed too fast, and finally he rested his head in his hands and wept. Realizing it was all his fault was too much to bear. He had refused a babysitter, refused to call an ambulance, and ignored his wife’s calls.
«Taylor,» Polly whispered as she came back and hugged him, «Kids, come hug your daddy.»
The younger ones hugged him as he tried to stop his sobs, but it was difficult.
«Mark will wake up soon, Daddy,» his daughter, told him in her high-pitched, precious little voice. Nothing would take the guilt away, but he finally stopped crying inconsolably.
They visited Mark an hour later, and he woke up. The doctors checked his motor skills and everything was fine. He even talked a little before falling back asleep. His surgeon said he was doing well and informed the family that he would soon be moved from the ICU to a regular room. Mark was officially out of danger.
Once his son was in a normal room safely surrounded by his family, Taylor went outside and spoke to one of the nurses, asking to see the person driving the ambulance.
«Oh, that’s James. You’ll probably find him outside, where most ambulances are parked when they’re not being sent,» a nurse told him kindly, and Taylor went outside.
He found James immediately, and despite the rush and everything that had happened that morning, the older man recognized Taylor.
«Wait a minute. Aren’t you the guy who wouldn’t move his car?» accused James, pointing his finger at Taylor.
But Taylor kept moving toward him and raised his arms to wrap the old man in a hug. James didn’t like it and tried to push him away until Taylor spoke up.
«I’m sorry. Thanks to you. Thank you for doing everything you could. He was my son. You were bringing my son here, and I… I was such an idiot. I’m so sorry. I could have lost everything,» Taylor said, and the old man relented, patting Taylor’s back.
«How’s the boy?»
«He’s fine. He woke up,» Taylor said, wiping away a tear. «He’s resting again, but the doctor said he’ll recover. Thanks to you.»
«I just did my job, sir. But I’m glad. I used to be a paramedic. Now I just drive, but I’m glad he’s safe,» nodded James.
«Why are you still working?» asked Taylor. «If it’s not unwise to ask.»
«My wife needs to have hip surgery. In this economy, retiring isn’t really an option anymore. Unfortunately, being an ambulance driver doesn’t pay much, but it helps,» James sighed.
«Would you be interested in changing fields?» suggested Taylor out of the blue.
«What do you mean?»
«How about becoming my driver?» he suggested, explaining where he worked and how much he would be paid.
It was more than three times what the old man was making.
«Is that a real offer?»
«One hundred percent,» Taylor insisted. «I may be an idiot, but I don’t lie in business.»
The old man thought about it some more and finally agreed. He worked two more weeks at the hospital, but then became Taylor’s chauffeur. The rich man didn’t realize how convenient it was not to worry about driving until then.
He and Polly also needed help when Mark got out of the hospital, so James ran errands, went grocery shopping, took care of the kids whenever he could, and drove Taylor around. After a few months, the old man had enough money for his wife Helena’s operation.
Taylor gave James all the paid leave he needed and visited them in the hospital. When James’ wife got better, he came up with another idea.
«James, how would you feel about Helena working for us as a nanny, would she like that?» asked Taylor from the back seat. James looked at him briefly and nodded.
«She’d love it. She loves kids. We never had any. It wasn’t in God’s plans for us, but she’d love it. Would you really hire her, sir?» asked James, gratefully.
Taylor became a benefactor of the hospital, providing grants so that children from lower-income families could be operated on. Meanwhile, James and Helena continued to work for his family, and the children adored them. Polly was thriving at work and no longer fainted.
And Taylor was always the first to pull over when an ambulance came down the road. He would never make that mistake again.