PARRISH ALFORD: Road work, and its risks, go with job

TUPELO – Today is the 6,935th day of my of the rest of my life. Give or take a few, because there were some leap years mixed in.
It is certainly, however, the 19th anniversary of my wreck, something that’s really sort of an occupational hazard.
Newspapers cover sports, because sports sells. We do it, because we love it. The games themselves have a pull, and along the way we cover life, which is much more interesting.
Those of us who cover sports for a living spend a lot of time on the road. Sparks, the screeching sound of metal on metal and a near-death experience are not imminent, but we are in a high-risk category.
In and of themselves the hours on the road, odd ones, don’t necessarily get you, but they do require you to pay attention and make good decisions.
Decision-making was a problem for me mostly by extension on a Saturday afternoon in 1991. I was on the other end of Highway 45, headed from Meridian to Mobile to cover the Mississippi-Alabama all-star football game.
A younger driver came spinning into my lane. He was in a full-size pick-up; I was in a two-door Subaru Justy. He won.
Though the road ahead would be long and difficult, 24 hours after the wreck doctors were fairly certain I would live. Twelve hours earlier, there had been much less clarity on that significant detail.
Once that was cleared up, my fiancee was able to issue a recall on all those wedding invitations we’d just mailed out and change the date from June 22 to TBA.
Earlier this year, I watched co-worker Brad Locke eclipse by one my hospital stay of 17 days. (FYI: My scars are more impressive.)
I remember walking into the emergency room the day of Brad’s wreck with the uncomfortable feeling that comes from not knowing what you’re about to hear, the feeling my family members had in 1991.
It’s turned out that Brad was OK, too – or at least no less OK than normal.
Brad is one of three co-workers I’ve seen involved in serious wrecks here, one of them fatal.
I look back on these 19 years and think of the people I’ve met, the events I’ve covered and the children with which my wife and I have been blessed, and I am thankful. I’ve been gifted with a lot of living.
All of this comes to mind partly because a date passes on the calendar, and there’s a flash of memory. My family may find that ironic, as memory wasn’t a strong point during the days when the Demerol button was my friend.
It comes to mind also, because in the last eight days we’ve buried three travelers in the faith at Calvary Baptist Church.
There’s enough danger in the world, and too often we take getting from Point A to Point B for granted. We shouldn’t.
As summer shifts gears, and the roads get crowded, I leave you with a trite expression that I send forth and receive with more wariness than I did 6,936 days ago:
Travel safe.
Parrish Alford (parrish.alford@ covers Ole Miss for the Daily Journal. He blogs daily about Ole Miss athletics at

Parrish Alford

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