Rob McCauley is a handsome young man. At 26 years of age he is a perfectly adjusted individual. The job at the bank is going great. After starting behind the customer service desk as a teller, Rob worked his way over to the big desks. He is now the third top producing loan officer at Merchants Bank in Alachua, Florida. Not a small feat for a man of his age. Having bought a home almost two years ago, and currently owning a shiny new Toyota Camry, Rob has done very well for himself.
Red. No other color would suffice. It had to be red…even though he seldom drives it.
Young Mr. McCauley is a team player at work. Something he must have learned as a quarterback on the Fort White Indians football team. Fort White is where Rob grew up. A small town about 20 miles from Alachua. An athletic past has made staying in shape really all too easy for this kid. By the sheer fact that his metabolism just hasn’t caught up to him yet, and also that he walks to and from the bank everyday. His physique makes Patricia proud to be seen with him. They have been dating for more than a year now. Rob was sincerely sorry that he forgot their anniversary.
There is something Patricia doesn’t know about Rob McCauley.
When he makes the journey everyday the walk is very enjoyable. The neighborhood is beautifully landscaped and the walkway leads from the front door directly to the sidewalk. Which, after passing the yellow roses on the corner, turns north and then leads him to the day’s tasks.
And then, for just a moment, it turns considerably dreadful.
As he nears the stoplight of U.S. Hwy 441 and NW 140th street, there is something there that has become extremely important to Rob. So important it is somehow detrimental. Rob has everything in control in his life, right? Everything accept this one thing. It is the monkey on his back. We all have one, and this is his. It is something that most people cannot know the value of. This particular thing would not be notably important to most anyone, but to Rob it could be a matter of life and death.
Patricia has been there. Some of his co-workers have seen it also. Never realizing the hallowed creation they should be so appreciative of. Mrs. McCauley is aware but doesn’t talk about it, and neither does Robs father. It is a monument of safety, a refuge, and a lifeline. It is by no mistake that Rob bought real estate in Alachua. The thing, this poured and dried, rebar reinforced hold on sanity is…
…the U.S. Highway 441 Pedestrian Crossing Bridge.
Rob has agyrophobia. Yes, the fear of crossing the street. Although the rationality of it makes it seem absurd, it is the pivot, and the hinge of his entire day. Crossing U.S. Hwy 441. The way to work. The bridge allows Rob to exist. It allows him the safety of crossing the street high above the dangers that lurk below. Allows him to appear practically perfect in every way. Of all the progress he has made, his agyrophobia grips him relentlessly. The heavy breathing combined with an inswallowable lump in the throat returns, time after time. The U.S. 441 Pedestrian Crossing Bridge is a necessary part of Rob’s life.
On September 17th 2007, Rob’s life changes forever.
Staying up so late last night probably wasn’t a good idea. Rapid eye movement has set in and the alarm clock is set for 7 p.m. instead of 7 a.m. Suddenly he finds himself on the sidewalk. The air crisp around him. Vivid with color. So vivid he can see the yellow dress the little girl is wearing. There is very little contrast from her hair, to her dress, to the tennis ball she chases. They are all three almost the same color as the sunshine.
Up ahead in the distance stands the U.S. Hwy 441 Pedestrian Crossing Bridge. Standing like a gravestone it casts a long shadow. The ball bounces across the sidewalk, off the curb, and onto Hwy 441. Somehow he knows her name. It is Zoie. She picks up the ball and the smile falls from her face. Rob sweats in his sleep. The yellow moving truck cannot stop. The worst has happened and strangely Rob can only look at his watch. It is 8:03 a.m. The little date square where the 3 is supposed to be, says 27.
In a tee-shirt and boxer shorts Rob leaves his front door open as he sprints down the sidewalk to the corner. He looks north to see nothing. Nothing but the U.S. Hwy 441 Pedestrian Crossing Bridge in the far distance. The bright golden yellow sunshine causes it to cast that familiar stretched shadow. Rob looks at his watch. It is 8:03 a.m. It was just a dream. With his heart racing he walks home. Quickly gets ready, and is only five minutes late to work. But throughout the day one image absolutely will not leave him. 27.
Over the next few days he can’t shake the dream. Rob realizes he has been given something. Entrusted with something. A life is at stake. With courage in his heart, and doubt in his mind, he determines he will be there on the 27TH to stop whatever may happen. But what about the street. It paralyzes his thoughts. The nightmares continue. But what about the street…? Rob is now armed with knowledge. Knowledge he cannot abandon. He has been somehow assigned this information, and now he has a choice to make. Will he save her or will Mr. Agyrophobia haunt him forever? It would be easier to run away. Avoid responsibility. Avoid the difficulty altogether and it will go away, right? Except a life is at stake. That beautiful yellow haired little girl needs him. Zoie needs him.
At 8:03 a.m. on the morning of the 27TH, Robert James McCauley conquers his worst fear as he sweeps Zoie off her feet and moves from the trucks path just in time.
Is he a hero or did he merely do what any of us would have? No my friend, many husbands, many fathers, and many men avoid responsibility and run away all the time. They run from their wives, their children, and their stewardship. The very gifts God gives them to keep and to care for. It is easier to be a coward. Courage and responsibility go hand in hand. Rob will never be afraid of crossing the street again. He is definitely a hero. The purpose of this book is to pose a question to you: What will you do when you are faced with this kind of a decision?
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