My Near-Death Experience

I want to share my story with you about my near-death experience. It’s an interesting story, but there are also some lessons to be learned from it.

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While I was on Mosquito Island, which is beside Necker Island, with Richard Branson; Mark Hyman, a fitness guru from the United States; and his girlfriend, Ivy. We took a walk around the island, and then stopped to have drinks. We ended up talking about near-death experiences and Richard Branson shared several experiences he has had. For a man his age, he has had a lot of dangerous experiences. By the way, if you are ever in a group, it is a great topic to bring up just for fun – have everyone share their nearest death experience. This is mine:

A Scary Ride

When I was studying from 1998-2004, I was a taxi driver on the weekends. I worked the night shift driving from 6pm to 6am. It was a lot of fun, but I also did all of my studying in the taxi. I never studied on my own time, so I probably was already learning time management without realizing it. When my colleagues were standing around outside of their taxis smoking and watching women, I was in my taxi studying.

I could tell from his body language and his energy that this it was not going to be a fun drive.

On this weekend, I had been to a party on Thursday and had got home late. I had to drive on Friday night and had only slept a few hours, so by Saturday I was on my third night of little sleep. Around 3am a guy gets into my taxi – at that time in Holland, people did not sit in the back of the taxi, they always sat in the front – so he is sitting in the front next to me. He tells me where to take him and it is about a 20-minute drive. I could already tell from his body language and his energy that this it was not going to be a fun drive. Pretty much the entire drive the guy was being hostile and annoying, poking his finger in my belly, being really irritating. I am a big guy, but this guy was bigger and I was just trying to keep my patience and not tell him to shut up. I was being quiet, trying not to get into a fight. The other taxi drivers always carried some kind of protection, like a mag light, a big flashlight they could use as a weapon. I never carried anything like that because I know that if you have it, you will use it.

So, I am so tired and he is being really annoying, and then right as we enter the small city where I am taking him, he tells me he is not going to pay me because he doesn’t have any money. I offer to stop at a gas station and he agrees. He gets money from the ATM, but when he gets back in the taxi, he doesn’t get back in the front seat, he sits in the back behind me. This was really strange because in the five years I drove a taxi, I never had anyone sit behind me. He was completely silent the rest of the drive, which was only a couple of minutes and when we arrived, he wouldn’t get out, so I had to get out and make him get out. He actually did pay me and it all ended okay, but the entire drive he had been really difficult because his behavior was so odd.

E + R = O

When things like that happen, bad customers or other bad things, I generally reflect on it for a few minutes afterwards, then I shake it off. I let it go and do not dwell it. I was surprised on the following Monday,  when my boss called me and asked me if I had driven a customer into the city Saturday night. I thought back and remembered and told him, ‘yeah, the guy was an asshole’. He asked me a few questions about it and then we hung up. Then he called again a couple of hours later and asked me some more questions. He called again around 5pm and said you have to go to the police station to answer some questions. On my way to the police station, my wife called and told me that there was a story in the newspaper about a murder that had occurred at the location where I had picked this guy up.

So it turned out that this man had murdered a woman, left her house, and stepped into my taxi. This same man who had acted so hostile in my taxi me had actually just stabbed a woman with a knife and killed her.

This was a huge lesson for me because I thought about what might have happened had I not been calm with the man during the taxi ride.

I always call this E+R=O or event plus response equals outcome. The event was he was trying to piss me off, but because I stayed calm the outcome is I am am still here. So obviously, if my response had been different, if I had not stayed calm and relaxed, then the outcome would not have been the same.

Lessons Learned

The lesson here is regardless what happens to you, the most important thing is how you respond.

The other lesson I learned, was that I should not be dependent on this type of work to get by. The man who owned the taxi company was a Christian and our taxis had the message of Jesus Christ on the cars. That didn’t matter to me, for me it was about the work, but he didn’t even contact me after he realized what had happened. It could have been very traumatic for me – it wasn’t — but it could have been.

About two weeks after that, I told the guy I was quitting because I wasn’t willing to risk my life for this dumb stuff. He didn’t say, ‘oh man, that was a close one’ or ‘wow, that must have been scary’. I find it very interesting the way people act frontstage vs backstage. (I have an article about that topic if you want to read more about Frontstage vs. Backstage behavior.)

There are multiple lessons to be learned from my near death experience, but the biggest is to remember: E+R = O. How you respond to events in your life determine the outcome.

 If you enjoyed this article, please let me know by leaving a comment below or send me a Tweet @EelcoDeBoer. 


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  • 30 July 2015
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