“…and there's a five o'clock me inside my clothes…”
A paralyzed veteran fishing the PVA circuit…the Paralyzed Veterans of America circuit.
If you know me you know how much I care about these guys, so I understand you thinking I rigged this, but it weren’t.
But this is what I believe, I think it was directed, the pick, by the universe. You will too believe when you hear the story of #56.
Tell me your story #56…tell me your story…
Tony Choe. Age 45, not married, lives in Fairfax Station, Virginia, works as a computer specialist in the State Department.
Paralyzed from the waist down since 1993.
If you were in my Holiday Inn room right now you would notice something…something loud…and that would be me starting to pound harder on my laptop keys…and this is why.
And I’m getting madder…if you are in this hotel room you better start ducking ‘cause I’m about to start having a fit and throwing stuff as I have to type Tony’s story.
And trust me you are going to start to get PO’ed too…here’s the story, told by Tony.
“I was in the Marines for a couple of years, when I got out I was working to get back to civilian life, got a job as a manager of a convenience store in Washington, DC…” Tony is now talking softly, I have no idea where this is going, but I have a bad feeling.
“…that’s where I got shot…it was during the day…a guy came into the store and robbed it…got very little money, but because I saw his face he shot me…shot me in the back.”
Shot…in the back…for very little money, trust me I am banging these keys right now.
And then the punk left Tony for dead. Laying there, laying there where he lost 50% of the blood in his body….laying there where to save his life they had to open his chest and with their hands, pump his heart. Tony spent the next 5 months of his life in a hospital, spent it in rehab trying to learn how to deal with the paralyzation that stole from him his love of playing soccer, playing tennis.
The punk who shot him has never been caught.
Tony never called the dirtbag that…I did.
“In April of ’94 I fished my first Bass tournament, and it really helped change my life, I met other disabled anglers and we talked about fishing and living with disability and it really helped me a lot. Bass fishing encouraged me to get back into life again, it is great therapy.”
Meet an American hero, in my book.
Shot in the back for chump change, left for dead, and in fact, almost did die, but if there is a metaphor for America…it is Tony.
Battered, beaten, but still gets up.
“I work at the Department of State and I doing so well that they are sending me to Johns Hopkins University and right now I’m working on getting my Masters of Engineering in Computer Information.”
Every day when Tony comes off the water, after rigging his fishing stuff for the next day, he comes back to the hotel and goes up into his room and studies and writes papers for his Master’s work. After practicing all day, he comes back and does homework.
I was about to leave when he said something very softly to me, “Do you want to know what I believe…”
Help me be like you.
“Every morning when I wake up I say this, tell myself this is a bonus day, a bonus day because I am alive…I thought while I was laying there that I was going to die…but I didn’t…so every day after that day, to me, is a bonus day, of life.”
All with stories, all working stiffs.
But it is their story, that makes our story.
The story, of us.
#311,591,917 stories to tell.
Take the time to ask.
Take the time to listen.
We are more the same,
than we are not.
“…thinking that the world looks fine, yeah.”
5 O’clock World
See more photos of these three anglers taken by db here.