Monday, March 14, 2011

A Life Spared, by Charlene Farnsworth

In an instant I could have tragically lost my father. Through Dad’s calm response and our good fortune, his life was spared.

Dad had a very stressful job as Shop Superintendent for a sheet metal manufacturing company. He was responsible for efficient product manufacturing, effective time management, and managing employees with a variety of personalities and skills.

To temporarily escape from his stressful environs each day, Dad would drive a short distance to the Zody’s department store parking lot. His “oasis” was in a less populated area under the shade trees where he enjoyed the good lunch Mom packed nightly for him in his black metal lunch pail.

After lunch, Dad would read a few pages from the newspaper, Reader’s Digest, Golf Digest or Popular Mechanics. After his daily respite, he returned to work to fulfill his management responsibilities.

On June 30, 1980, Dad’s pleasant routine was interrupted by a life-threatening event. Dad always sat in the passenger seat while lunching in the Zody’s lot. Short bushes separated him from the sidewalk and the highway.

A nicely-dressed man walked towards Dad’s car and passed by the open window. He was carrying a brown paper bag and, after making an about face to return to Dad’s window, pulled a knife from the bag placing it at Dad’s neck. He commanded that Dad get out of the car; however, due to impaired hearing, Dad did not immediately comply.

Dad then experienced extremely good fortune in an extremely tense situation. This man did not misinterpret Dad as being non-cooperative and repeated his command. Dad then quickly stepped out of the car. In an instant, this terrible intruder took Dad’s wallet and keys, jumped into Dad’s car, and sped away through the bushes. My stunned Dad was left standing with his precious life intact!

Dad handled this situation with amazing calm. He called the police, his family and the insurance company. This was at a time when one’s car registration paperwork was mounted on the steering column. Thus, Dad wisely called our neighbors immediately to alert them to the possibility that this malevolent individual might also attempt to burglarize our home. I believe Dad walked back to work.

At home, Dad calmly narrated all the details surrounding this horrific event. It was a total switch in personalities. Typically, in our household, Mom and I approached life’s challenges less emotionally than Dad. However, this time Mom and I were quite disturbed while Dad’s thinking process and emotions were perfectly synchronized.

Dad’s car was eventually found at an intersection in Riverside. The police explained that often a criminal will take such extreme measures to simply have “wheels” to get to a particular destination. The car’s interior was burned, and the police further explained this is done to assure no fingerprinting is possible.

Although Dad’s car and a set of golf clubs were taken that fateful day, the life of a very principled, hard-working man was most thankfully spared.


  1. Charlene -- When Steve's bike was stolen a couple of weeks ago one of the things that I kept thinking about was how some people seem to have no conscience. Perhaps they have made so many selfish decisions that it no longer occurs to them to question whether a given action is right or wrong. They do it because they can. Their sense of entitlement prevents them from thinking about another person's rights.

    What your father went through was so much worse than having a bike stolen from a secured parking lot. He set a beautiful example of behaving wisely even when confronted with someone else's cruelty.

  2. from Charlotte:

    What an experience! He was very lucky.

  3. Dear Charlene, I wonder how many times we are unsuspectingly within reach of evildoers?
    Your,dear father, handled his circumsatances with wisdom and grace.
    As always your story is very well written!!!

  4. Charlene, this was beautifully written. It should be published. Annette