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Interview with Erin Pushman

Pushman, Erin
Lynch, Misty
Date of Interview: 
Overcoming obstacles; Relationships with people and places
Erin Pushman talks about moving from Michigan and getting hit by a drunk driver.
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Misty Lynch interviewed Charlotte, NC residents to collect various stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
ML (Misty Lynch): Hi Erin. [Laughter] I feel really silly interviewing you because I live with you. But, um, I want to ask you, um, to tell me some stories today, about your experiences in Michigan which is where you're \\ from. \\
EP (Erin Pushman): \\ Um-hm. \\
ML: Um, why don't you tell me a little bit about, um, coming down here, um, and then I'll maybe you can give me a little bit of information about, uh, the differences between UNC-Charlotte and um Michigan State, where, where you went your undergrad years.
EP: OK. Well the drive down here was, um, very surreal to me almost because I've driven down to North Carolina from Michigan I mean just countless times forever and ever \\ but-. \\
ML: \\ And why is that? \\
EP: -Because my grandpa lives in the mountains up about an hour above Ashville. So I've been coming down here but never to Charlotte, until April or whatever when, um, McGavran [laughter] called me and made me the assistantship offer then I came down in April. So anyway when I drove down here to move it just seemed kind of odd, because I just packed up my car and [pause] just got on the road and came down here and, uh, I stayed overnight in Tennessee, and, um, I went to eat at a restaurant across the street from the hotel, and I had a cute waiter who was probably about seventeen, and carded me when I ordered wine and I // just thought-. //
ML: // Whoa. //
EP: -That was funny and, um, he smiled at me a lot. And then I went back to my hotel room, and I went swimming, and then I dyed my hair because the red was washing out, and I wanted fresh [laughter] new red hair // when I got to Charlotte-. //
ML: // For your fresh new city. //
EP: -Yeah, so. And then I came here, and it was very hot when I got out of my car in Charlotte.
ML: In August?
EP: In August ( ).
ML: Hmm. // [Laughter] Imagine. //
EP: // [Laughter] // Well cause when I had stopped, before I got here it was in Tennessee up in the mountains, and it was you know like 75? And so I got here, and I was just like [intake of breath] and, um, some of my plants died.
ML: Aww which plants died?
EP: The peace lily died.
ML: // Mmm. //
EP: // And // the rose bushes died, and the aloe plants are still not fully recovered, but everybody else is doing OK.
ML: Hmm, OK.
EP: And I had to leave yellow cat behind.
ML: That's your, your, your big kitty-.
EP: // Yes. //
ML: // -Your // big, big cat // right? //
EP: // Um-hm. //
ML: And how did you find it?
EP: I went to the Animal Control Shelter and asked for, I told them I wanted to save a cat and they were really mean, and I said, they said, "Which cat do you want?" And I said, "Whichever cat you're going to kill next." And they said, "Look miss, if you want to pick out a cat then we can put you through the application process, but you can't just come in here and say that you want to save the [laughter] cats." And I thought that they were stupid. And-.
ML: Did you fill out an application for one?
EP: -Uh-huh yeah, and they, they didn't like me for some reason. The people who work at these places are just horribly, horribly mean. I've learned this and I think it's just because they've gotten all their humanity beaten out of them or else they were mean to begin with I think-.
ML: Like literally [laughter].
EP: ( ) [Laughter]
ML: [In a deeply southern accent] Somebody comes in there and gives those people a nice big blank // whooping. //
EP: // -Well // their whole job is to kill things. You know, so, actually, it's probably not, they probably had no humanity before they started working here.
ML: Mm-hm.
EP: You've got to be pretty messed up if you can just kill animals for a living. And be mean to people who would like to come in and adopt them.
ML: Mm-hm.
EP: So anyway I just described this like ugly cat, I said I there was an old yellow cat back there. So they [laughter] brought, brought me out this yellow cat-.
ML: The oldest and most pitiful looking one
EP: -Yeah. She was just all skinny and scrawny. But she's a good looking cat now.
ML: Aw.
EP: She's very pretty.
ML: And where is she now?
EP: She's at my parents' house in Michigan.
ML: Which is [pause] where in Michigan?
EP: In the Heartland-.
ML: Heartland, now what is Heartland near?
EP: Uh nothing really-.
ML: [Laughter]
EP: -It's just near cornfields but it is, it borders Howell, which was a KKK town-.
ML: // Wow. //
EP: // -And // Howell borders Cohoctah which is where the grand wizard of the KKK lived for a really long time, so that's kind of embarrassing and horrible.
ML: Cohoctah, what's that?
EP: It's a little town.
ML: I'm gonna have to ask you to spell [laughter] that.
EP: I don't know its like C-O.C-H.I've, I'm not sure (both laughing). C-O-C-H-A-T-H-A or something really messed up like that.
ML: OK ( ).
EP: And its just, it's not dangerous and neither is Howell, and it's just really weird to me that the KKK was active in either of these places and a lot of times when people find out that I'm from near Howell they're like [intake of breath]. You know is it scary to drive through there at night? and it's not it's just this tiny little town but it has this dark history but that's not where I'm from I'm from the town next door
ML: So you probably were familiar then (laughing) with some things that you would experience here in the South, a little bit of our own history.
EP: Yeah.
ML: That seems weird you know being from the south myself you don't think about the KKK and, I don't know in the Northern part of the US but I guess -.
EP: See I just, we just always, But I mean everyone always knew Howell equals KKK.
ML: -Wow.
EP: But I used to have like nightmares about the KKK chasing me and stuff.
ML: [Laughter] But you're the fairest person I know.
EP: Yeah but I had this recurring nightmare about the KKK coming. It totally like burned me up. But I had a lot of nightmares when I was a kid. // I still have a lot of nightmares. //
ML: // You did? // What kind of nightmares? Maybe you read some crazy books or something?
EP: No, I didn't read much [laughter] as a [laughter] child. I wanted to be illiterate [laughter] for a long time [laughter]. // But they didn't-. //
ML: // [Laughter] And succeeded. //
EP: Yeah, pretty much. But um-.
ML: So, you didn't have any books or anything that like shaped you as a kid? Nothing?
EP: -Um-um, no, I read a lot of Sweet Pickle story books-.
ML: Oh.
EP: -But I never, I never read like the books that all little girls read like Little Women and I just-.
ML: Any of the little trashy ones like Sweet Valley High? And stuff like that?
ML: No?
EP: No, I did read, um, Six Months to Live, that book about, um, the girl who gets cancer, because my grandma was dying of cancer, and I just [pause], and I asked my dad to read it to me one night and he started crying and couldn't read it // anymore it was sad. //
ML: // Ahh, it was his mother I guess. //
EP: // Uh hm, //
ML: // Oh, how sad. // Now is that like a Judy Blume book or?
EP: No her name was Lurlene McDaniel.
ML: Wow-.
EP: Or Laura McDaniel or something.
ML: I never heard of that.
ML: But anyway so.
EP: So-.
ML: We were talking about where you were from-.
EP: -And animal shelters.
ML: And animal shelters.
EP: // Which actually had // in, inmates from the Ingham County jail, working there which was interesting 'cause, Aaron Trommely was an inmate at Ingham County jail. But when I went to the Animal Control Shelter I didn't know that the jail would be across the street, so I was kind of upset when I saw the jail, and then, um, Aaron Trommely was not one of the guys working there, but the inmates, 'cause I, you, you have to go there a lot when you want to adopt something, 'cause they are ridiculous. They make you go through this process. So, I went there quite a few times and the inmates that were working there thought that I was cool and they wanted to write me letters, so, um, one of them did and I should, I don't know why I even gave this man my address, but I just, I felt sorry for him and [laughter] like he just wrote me this letter, and then I got scared.
ML: And how old [pause] were you?
EP: This was like a year ago. Just about-.
ML: // Oh, so you haven't-. //
EP: // -A year and a month ago. //
ML: // Had Yellow Cat that long //
EP: // No. //
ML: Oh, OK. [Laughter] And you go into, um, you just go into the prisons?
EP: No, no, I never went into the prisons, but the inmates from the prisons would work at the Animal Control Shelter-.
ML: // Oh. //
EP: // -'Cause it was across the street // from the jail.
ML: -I thought you were like, "Well, I was on my way."
EP: [Loud laughter] So, I just-.
ML: "So, I just thought I'd stop into the prison and give people my number." OK, you can tell I'm very attentive. I'm, I'm really stressed out right now.
EP: That's OK.
ML: So, I'm not really retaining everything I hear.
EP: That's alright.
ML: OK, that makes a lot more sense.
EP: Like, it was their job to like clean up all the poop and pee and feed the animals and-.
ML: Oh.
EP: -But actually, it was, it was their job to kill them, too, and that was really sad.
ML: Ohh.
EP: And they came in to take one cat while I was standing there, and that was really hard, 'cause like, like, I couldn't adopt all of the cats I really only could only afford one cat and so I just like I walked by the cat, it meowed at me and then the guy with the glove came and took it away.
ML: Wow.
EP: And I should've, just 'cause that cat looked at me right before the guy came, I should've told them not to, that I would adopt that cat, too.
ML: That's pretty psychologically scarring to make people who are already around so much inhumanity to, you know, kill animals, too, you know, that's, I mean, but anyway.
EP: Anyway, yeah.
ML: I'm not gonna get on a soapbox, but anyway, well, um so that's where you are from. Um, would do you think, what differences have you noticed, um, about the two colleges that you've attended, now that you've been here at UNC-Charlotte for awhile?
EP: UNC-Charlotte is very, very small, um, it's just, it's just so little. When I hear the term "walk across campus" in my head I'm thinking an hour walk. And here it means five minutes.
ML: Wow.
EP: And, um, it's, it's a walking campus, which is a term I hadn't even heard of until getting here and there aren't any roads that go through it and that is bizarre to me and pedestrians here always have the right of way, which is also pretty crazy and everything is new, brand new and I'm used to really unique old buildings with, you know, those, how do they put the dates like-.
ML: // Oh yeah, placards. //
EP: // -On special brick-. //
ML: Yeah.
EP: -Yeah but like, but not on a placard just like built into the bricks.
ML: Uh-huhm.
EP: But like buildings built in like 1861 and stuff.
ML: Wow.
EP: And so this is, so Fretwell seems like a modern like mod-ver-plex business place, or something and I just, when I think of English departments I think of really old, um, MSU's English department is in one of the oldest buildings on campus.
ML: Wow.
EP: So, like all the offices have fireplaces and stuff.
ML: Lots of history-.
EP: Yes.
ML: -Surrounding you there.
EP: Um-hm.
ML: But here it's just, modern.
EP: Yeah, but I went up to the fourth floor today and that's pretty nice up there. They've got a skylight and all those trees.
ML: Of, of Fretwell.
EP: Uh-huh.
ML: Oh, OK. Yeah, the sky light's nice. That's the, I think the best thing about Fretwell. It's still kind of sterile. The environment-.
EP: Yeah.
ML: -But the light is nice.
EP: Yeah, I should just go hang out up there on that fourth floor sometime.
ML: We have to go up to the, um, Rare Books Collections, too at the top of the library.
EP: Yeah.
ML: It's really nice up there.
EP: I almost went up there cause the other day I was in the library and I had like fifteen extra minutes before I had to go back to go to the class and so I thought, I was stressed out and thought, well I'll just go walking around you know go to the highest floor I can get to and just walk all the way around and look out the windows, so I went up to the tenth floor and just peeked out the door and I saw the Rare Book Collections and realized I couldn't just go in and walk all around, so I had to go down to the ninth floor.
ML: Ohh, yeah, it's really nice up there. ( )
EP: What's up there?
ML: They've got lots of neat things, it's so bizarre though, um, first, my first semester here, God, it seems like it was the first couple of weeks, um, I had a really, um, how should I put this- eccentric, uh, English 1101 teacher, which is what I'm doing now. I wonder if my same students are going to describe me the same way, "This lady was nuts." Anyway, and um, she wanted us to have some experience with, um, with, you know, going up to the Rare Book Collections and stuff and, uh, some how or other, in class we, I mean, this is, this is not a really, uh, bizarre thing that in class we got on a topic like this, 'cause it happened quite often, but um, we went to, um, the Rare Book Collections 'cause someone in class had mentioned the Madonna sex book and our professor wanted us to see it, cause she had seen it and granted this lady was, in her sixties, so it was just a trip. We loved her, her name was Mary, Mary Herrera. But anyway, um, so she took us up there and spent, you know, class time going up there with us and we looked at the Madonna sex book together.
EP: Wow.
ML: In class.
EP: I'm not sure I know what the Madonna sex book is.
ML: It was the book that she got, uh, a lot of um, attention for, negative attention, um, basically it just, a lot of, uh, it's a photo book.
EP: Oh, OK, yeah, I remember hearing about that.
ML: Lots of weird stuff like her having, in certain scenes, with like animals like a dog.
EP: // Yeah. //
ML: // There is one scene with her and a dog. //
EP: I remember about, I remember Saturday Night Live I remember them doing a skit.
ML: And she and Isabella Rosselini were kissing each other, and, I don't know it was just really risque.
EP: So, it's not a collection with like old out of date books?
ML: Yes.
EP: // Some of those, too. //
ML: // Manuscripts are up there, too. // [Laughter] It's so funny, I'm, I'm telling you my first experience with it and I just like try to leave it at that, like that's all that's up there. "Really, really nasty-."
EP: Just that book. [Laughter]
ML: -"Books are up there, old volumes of Playboy and Penthouse," no, no, no, no. It's-.
EP: There's an original edition of the Kama Sutra.
ML: [Laughter] Yeah. No, there's lots of different manuscripts up there, um, very old things, um, I think we have a large selection of like Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales and things like that-.
EP: Cool.
ML: -That are, that are really old, um. I went up there looking for some things when I was doing my Norton, but we didn't have a whole lot of stuff on modernists up there, but-.
EP: Now, would you, if you put in a topic or whatever in the, um, what's it called, Aladdin?
ML: The Boolean search, yeah.
EP: Yeah, would it just, would it come up with a special collections stuff come up on that or would you have to, is there a special thing?
ML: I think that it would come on Aladdin.
EP: Cause I've never seen in any special collections stuff come up.
ML: Yeah, I think it would, but you might want to talk to a librarian about that. 'Cause I'm not a librarian, [laughter] so back off. No, I'm just joking, um, anyway, so, um, well let's talk about, um, OK you were talking about the differences between here and Michigan. How about, um, other differences, things that, that you see that are different maybe between, um, campus, in campus life and things like that. Like, you know, I know you guys have like a, um, a really, um, really fanatical like football fans-.
EP: Oh, yeah.
ML: -And stuff like that up there and, and pro-, your football programs and actually all your sports are really big deal there.
EP: Uh-huh.
ML: So, what's that, how's that compare with us having no football team at all?
EP: Well, coming here, just, it doesn't seem like college to me, and that's probably partly because an MA degree is a little bit different than college, but, um, there aren't just people running around wearing UNCC sweatshirts and hats and you know like at MSU especially during the fall semester football season it, you know, is just, almost everybody, all forty thousand people had an MSU baseball hat. I have one. You know, when have you seen me wear a baseball cap yet? But I have that MSU one and you know, it's just like you would come in and if you hadn't showered or whatever you'd throw on your baseball hat and then on a game day you'd throw on your hat and it just in general it seems like there were a lot more people at MSU that looked like they hadn't showered, but maybe this too has to do with how I'm in graduate school and people are paying more [laughter] attention to cleanliness and not being-.
ML: Hygiene's really big here in Charlotte, North Carolina.
EP: -So sloppy.
ML: We stink in Michigan.
EP: Well, you know that look where you just, you can tell people just rolled out of bed for their eight o' clock class?
ML: Uh-huh.
EP: Well, that doesn't seem to be happening, but I am sure if I were in some undergrad classes, I'd be seeing a little bit more of that but-.
ML: There are a few in my own class, but I know what you mean yeah, people tend to, uh, get a little more, dolled up-.
EP: -Yeah.
ML: So to speak
EP: Or just look, you know, more presentable, like nobody comes in with bed head and like a hat that's all askew and last night's makeup on and you know jeans and a tee-shirt or something.
ML: Uh-hm.
EP: People are just.
ML: Put together.
EP: Yeah, but, so back to campus life just yeah the football thing was really big and um, you could just, one of the neatest things was, um, the marching band would practice everyday and you could always just hear that even, I mean I lived off campus for three years but I could always hear the marching band would just come into the, we didn't, no one had air conditioning, so you'd have your windows open in the fall and you'd hear the marching band practicing, and that was nice, or just to be anywhere in town on football game days, cause you could hear all of the noise from the stands and everything, anywhere you went you could just hear it and uh, like how the planes fly over the speedway here, those would fly around East Lansing so it was just such a neat feeling to be, there was just always energy in the town, and to see the planes and hear the noise and people, I mean, students and alumni and everybody just wandering around in green and white, and everyone being friendly and you know some fifty-year-old guy you've never met before buys you and your friends beer just cause he's an alumni and you won and everybody's happy and-.
ML: Ahh.
EP: -So, there, there's not that like huge sense of a big unifying something here.
ML: Yeah, you're right and plus we don't have any. I mean, the-, there is the missing positive side of that, but then, there are some negatives to that too [laughter], um, like for example, um-.
EP: The riots? [Laughter]
ML: -Yeah, there have been riots, um.
EP: There have been riots.
ML: Um, um, I know in several different cities in um, big campuses, I know they have that, and I know that Michigan State had one of the biggest ones not too long ago, right?
EP: Right.
ML: OK, well, tell me something about that, cause you were there for that, right?
EP: Yeah, well-.
ML: It was in your town.
EP: -Well, to be fair, um, I have to tell you the whole story of the riots. And it started with something that was not even a riot, um, it was the Gunson Street riot as all these reporters like to call it, but it was just a party that got out of hand and one thing that happens on game days and I mean pretty much any weekend day during the fall semester, but especially on game days people throw these huge house parties. I know what they're like because when I lived in a house my senior year we threw them. And it's just like a standard thing. Everybody knows the rules, everybody does it. You get a couple of kegs, you get a bunch of plastic cups, the big kind and you charge people three dollars, you give them a cup and they drink beer for the night. And just I mean random people, um, when I was living in the dorms my freshman year people would come through and you know, knock on your door and be like, "Hey, party on Bailey Street," or you know "Party on Elm" whatever and you just walk, in what we call the freshman herd out to the party, and obviously a lot of underage drinking going on. But so anyway, um, this was back in [pause] ninety [pause] seven, um, wait, is that right, [pause] no I guess [pause] yeah '97, sorry, and um, it was a football game night, and people were just having a party, and it was a block party so like all four houses right together all had kegs and people were just, you know wander back and forth between the houses and be playing in the streets and stuff, and, um, then somebody decided that they had an old couch, we uh, had what we called ghetto couches and that was a couch or any piece of larger furniture that you didn't want in or house anymore, you'd just drag it onto the your front porch and just sit on it on your porch, everybody had one. So, um, some people decided that their ghetto couch was no longer worth sitting in, and they drug it out to the street and lit it on fire. Well, all of a sudden at, it was being called a riot and, um, some people were taking off their shirts and stuff and dancing around and I think a couple of people threw rocks at the old, we have all of these antique lights because the student housing, or all of the houses and apartments that students rent is in the historic district so there's these beautiful old lights and some of those got knocked out with rocks and then all of a sudden the police were there and the news people were there and they were calling it The Gunson Street Riot and you know, "We are arresting people," and it just, it got blown way, way, way out of proportion. Well, when you've got a mentality like you have at a big ten university like that where half of the kids are nineteen or eighteen and then you've got high-schoolers all around and people from other schools and there's just this big sense of like, "Student blah, togetherness, whatever," and you start calling something a riot you're gonna get people who think that that's cool, and, "Look, we got on the news when we did this, and like that's what we're supposed to do."
ML: Copycats.
EP: So and I mean, it did, it became like a thing where most of the students just thought it was a joke, we were like, "This is ridiculous, this is not a riot." You know, ha, ha, whatever. And some people were like, "Yeah, that was cool." But no one, no one on campus actually thought that had been a riot, so then um, the, this happened and then that, so this was one of the drinking incidents and then, um, there were a couple of drunk driving accidents where people were killed and then in January of '98, three young women were killed who were trying to cross the street and they were drunk and they were crossing when they shouldn't have and a drunk driver hit them. Actually, maybe only one of them died but they were all really screwed up, so then everyone like had been talking about cracking down on alcohol and, um, my freshman year, MSU was still kind of how MSU always had been where you have something called Welcome Week and that's when all the freshmen come onto campus and everyone else comes back and it's just a party week where you go to your sessions, your orientation during the day and at night you go out and party. Well, my junior year they decided this was not going to happen anymore because of too much alcohol and this was the year of the Gunson Street Riot. So, they cut Welcome Week down to Welcome Weekend, so kids were only there for two days and they thought you know, that'll solve this, no more drinking. So, people were already upset about that, so then they have this riot, then they were making more bans on drinking and people were getting more upset about that and then, um, two months after these, these three girls got, um, hit by a drunk driver then I got hit by a drunk driver like not even a block away from campus, so then that was the like fourth big drinking incident that had happened and everyone decided well we've got to crack down on this, this can't happen anymore, so the decision that they made was that there would be no more tailgating in Munn field and Munn ice arena, which is where everyone goes to tailgate, at the football games and it really is just a drunken madhouse but the thing with it is that everyone was just going to Munn field and parking their cars and then not driving, just getting drunk and it was all very localized and in that place and the police were there and it was, you know, it was rowdy but it was not dangerous, no one was getting hurt. So, um, they make this decision, this is in, [pause] um, May, I guess or no it was April, just at the end of April and classes get out the first week of May and instead of waiting till the students were gone, they made this decision the weekend before finals when everyone's all keyed up and every-, all the students are there and, you know, who, who is that stupid? But apparently administration, cause they make this announcement and so people decide well we're going to organize a protest and they were going to march from Munn field down to the Student Union, well, the Student Union is right, um, across, or right on the road Grand River, which is like the big main road there and that's where all of the shops are and everything and that's another thing there isn't here at UNCC, there's no like main strip where everybody hangs out. But, so this is where it was and by the time this group of people got to the Student Union the police were chasing them and the police came to this peaceful protest in riot gear and were calling it a riot, which pretty much just turned it into a riot at that point and, um. But it still, it wasn't like a riot, people were just they went onto Grand River and traffic had to stop and they were just marching about and some people were throwing rocks and things like this, and um, some people were taking off their shirts again but it was mostly just walking up and down Grand River and then police came, you know, with their riot gear and squirted everyone with tear gas.
ML: // Oh my God. //
EP: // And um, // I was not there, obviously, I, I couldn't walk at that point but, my roommates were there and, um, they said that people just like were running into 7-11 and the, um, other store which is called QD which is like a 7-11.
EP: Yeah, Quality Dairy, you know, farm school, but anyway, and just like grabbing pop or whatever they could off the shelves and just putting it in their eyes, just to get the tear gas out and so 7-11, which never closes had no way to get these people out of there, cause I guess their doors don't lock or something really weird, so they found a chain, and they chained the people out, I mean it was, it was just crazy so that happened and then, um, and then it was quiet 'cause after that the students left and, you know, the summer was a quiet summer like summers always are in East Lansing.
ML: OK, so tell us a little bit about March 23, 1998.
EP: I was working as a banquet waitress at the Hannah Center ballroom, and um, I, my boss told me to go home that day. He let me go five minutes early, which-.
ML: // Wow, what a difference five minutes-. [Laughter] //
EP: // -[Laughter] In retrospect was not the best idea he ever had, you know? //
ML: -Thanks.
EP: He should've kept me there and the thing was that that night I also had a study group that I was supposed to meet in the Union instead of going to work, but I decided that I needed the money instead. So, um, I went to work, there again, [laughter] let that be a lesson to always make studying come first. Um, so anyway, I went to work and, came home and, I mean just a million little things could have been different, you know? There, there, could have been a red light, or, um, I pass rail, railroad tracks on the way home. You know there could have been a train coming by, but, none of that stuff happened. And I went home and I parked in the parking structure, which was like half a block from my apartment ( ).
ML: At what time?
EP: This was around ten-fifty p.m. that I got into the parking structure, and I parked and I was just walking out of the parking structure, and um, it's like a brick wall with a doorway in it and some windows. And then, there's a sidewalk, that curves around sharply, and then, behind the sidewalk there's like some trees and a bench and everything, 'cause, it was a road that used to go straight through and then they made it not dead end, but just made a sharp curve in it and then it turned //so if you can kind of-. // // [Telephone Rings.] //
ML: OK, so the road used to go straight through but then they made it have a sharp curve?
EP: -Yeah, so anyway, the, there's a sharp turn in the road that, you know like, the road as in what you drive on, and then there's a sidewalk that also curves but then the sidewalk is really, deep or like wide, I guess. Yes. Around the curve of the sidewalk, and I was all the way back so I was a good like, five feet on the sidewalk away from the road, and I heard squealing tires. I looked up, and I saw this car coming toward me, and I thought at first that I would be OK 'cause I was so far back on the sidewalk. And then, I realized that I wouldn't be OK, and then I realized that I already knew that 'cause I'd been dreaming about this for, you know, a good month and having premonitions and things. So then I just- you know and then that was all. I only had a couple of seconds to think all of this stuff and um, according to Aaron Trommely, I did take a couple of steps back, but that was to no avail and, um, the car just hit me head on, drove right up onto the sidewalk and, uh, I remember seeing through the windshield and seeing like three faces in the car and right as the car was coming I remember hearing voices yelling, "We're not gonna make it. We're not gonna make it. Shit." And then they hit me, and I don't think they saw me, or whatever, but they were not concerned about hitting me. They were concerned about crashing into the brick wall. I remember the car hitting me, and then, I do not remember us hitting a tree and a tree falling on me, or us smashing into the brick wall and me flying from the brick wall into the bushes. But I remember, like the car hitting, and then I remember falling into the bushes. And um, the bushes were really tall. They were like six feet tall, and I went all the way through them, and I was laying face down in the dirt. And um, I tried to get up, 'cause that's just what you do when you get hurt; you try to get up. And, I remembered about two weeks before that at work, um, my boss had accidentally [laughter] dropped this heavy box full of banquet trays on my head. // And um. //
ML: // Oh my God. //
EP: And I blacked out and fell over onto an ice sculpture that the shop was carving. It was a mess, but anyway, after that when I like came to, 'cause I was just out very, very briefly, the first thing I wanted to do was to stand up, and so that kind of came back to me except that I couldn't stand up and it hurt really bad and, um, you know, I could feel blood on my face and on my hands and stuff. And um, my legs just, have just never felt pain like that, and, so I started screaming, and um, [pause] the people got out of the car. And this, this is all just happening really quickly. And I could hear people, coming out of their houses, cause all my neighbors, like they all lived close together and stuff and they were all close to this parking structure. And it was Oscar night, so, you know, luckily, everyone was home on that night watching the Oscars. And they came out when they heard this crash. And uh, the, one, one of the passengers in the car was like, "We got to get out here, we got to run away." And I was screaming at them, "No, you know, you can't, you can't leave me here," 'cause I knew where I was. I knew that no one would find me, if I were to pass out or something. I heard one of them like, run off toward the 7-11, past me in the bushes. And, Aaron Trommely, the driver, and whoever the other passenger was, was like, "Oh, shit, what are we going to do? We, we should get out of here." And the other guy was like, "No man, you got to stay here, it'll be worse." And they're like, "No, we should go shit, you know, what?" And I'm just screaming, you know like, "Oh my God, please, don't leave me here. You've got to call 911." And I kept saying that over and over again. I was like, "You can't leave me, you've got to call 911, you've got to help me." And um, Aaron Trommely just kept saying, "Oh shit, oh shit, I killed her, I killed her, I'm gonna go to jail for the rest of my life, oh shit." I'm just, was like, "You can't just let me die here, I am going to die unless you call 911, you have to do this." And he's just like, "No man, shit, shit." One of my neighbors, his name might have been Scott, but all of a sudden you know I could hear other people standing around, and I was like, "I need someone to call 911." This Scott guy or whoever was like, "It's OK, it's going to be OK." I'm like, "Did you call?" And he's like, "Yeah, I called 911, you're going to be OK." And um, so then, like I, I at least knew that help was coming. And then, I um, they're like, "What can we do for you?" I was like, "I, I need you to get my roommates." And they were like you know, "Where are they?" And I said "They're in, um," what was the address, um, [pause] "407 Grove Street, Apartment 3" no, "427 Grove Street, Apartment 3." And um, they were like "What, apartment 27?" And I was like, "No, no," and I had to keep repeating it, and I was worried they'd go to the wrong apartment. Then one kid's like, "OK, I'm going to go, I'm going to go get them." And so like, I could hear his feet, you know running off, and I could even hear him, I guess, one of my neighbors just in the building was sitting on the porch, 'cause people always hung out on the porch. And, he was like, "I need, I need apartment three." And so they, you know, like I could hear all of that, and then anyone else was like, "What else?" And I'm like, "You got to tell my roommates to call my parents and to have somebody call Kirk." And they're like, "Who is Kirk?" And I'm like, "Forget it, they'll know." You know, so then all of this was going on and they, I just kept, like at the same time I was like screaming, "Oh God." And then like, "I'm gonna die." And they're like, "No, it's, you know, an ambulance is going to come, you're going to be OK." And I like, I was getting blood in my eyes and like I reached up and I just could, um, I had dirt in my eyes and stuff so I was trying to wipe all that away and I saw blood on my fingers and I was just like, "Oh my God. I'm bleeding. My head's bleeding." And I hear a couple of people be like, "Oh, shit," you know, like, "Her head's bleeding, oh my God." They were all just everyone was just panicking and I just had like dirt in my mouth and I just kept saying things like, "I'm bleeding. I've got dirt in my mouth. And I'm eating the ground." And, so um, then, I heard sirens and that was a police car. And the police came up, and um, one of the police officers like crawled under the bushes and was just like, "You're going to be OK." I'm like [pretending to cry], "I'm not going to be OK. My head's bleeding and I'm eating dirt and I." And he was just was like, "Just take my hand it will be OK." And he just laid under there and held my hand. And um, this guy, actually later, when I was in the hospital, Kirk's family came to visit me. And then, they stopped at a Big Boy restaurant after. Like this was, they stopped at a restaurant that was like 40 miles from the hospital, and they had a waitress. And um, the waitress was like, "Oh, how are you guys tonight?" And they were like, "Oh, well, we're not too good, you know, we just went to see our son's girlfriend and she's all messed up." And the waitress was like, "Well what happened?" And they told her and she was like "Oh, my husband was the first police officer there, he's the one who crawled under the // bushes." //
ML: // And held your hand? //
EP: Yeah.
ML: // Ohh, how-. //
EP: // So. //
ML: -Neat.
EP: Yeah, that was a weird // coincidence. //
ML: // Wow. //
EP: So. So anyway, like, um. Then I heard an ambulance come, and they're like, "It's going to be OK, the ambulance is here now." And uh, like just a week before this, my friend, Kay had been [pause] she was in her car but she had been hit by a drunk driver, and I had just been to Sparrow hospital to visit her earlier that day. And she was very upset that they had cut apart her favorite coat. Well, so the paramedics got there, and um, first they had to get me out of the bushes, so they're like, you know, and, and I could hear them going, "Oh, what are we going to do? How are we going to get her out of here?" And someone said, "I'll get the chainsaw." And I thought that like, [laughter] they were going to cut my feet off.
ML: [Laughter]
EP: And then like, I mean, I didn't think that were // gonna do it-. //
ML: // How professional. //
EP: -I didn't think they were going to cut them off on purpose to get me out, but I thought that accidentally, that surely accidentally were going to get cut off my feet. And I was like, "Please don't cut my feet, don't cut my feet, don't cut my feet." And they're like, "We won't cut your feet." But I could like, they kept bumping into my feet, which is why I thought, I think, why I thought they were going to cut them off. And it would hurt. I mean, anytime they bumped my legs I would just scream. So finally like, it seemed like it took forever, they got all this stuff out, and then, um, they're like you know, "We've got to get her out of that coat" and stuff. And I'm like, "Please don't cut my coat." They were like, "We have to." I'm like, "But it's my favorite coat." And I could hear my roommate Christine going, "Do you have to cut the coat?" And they're like, they're like, "Erin, we need to cut you out of this coat." And so, I mean they just, they cut off, um, my pants and they cut off my coat-.
ML: // With a chainsaw? [Laughter.] //
EP: // -And they cut off my underwear. // No, they have those special [laughter] scissors that-.
ML: // [Laughter] I know. //
EP: // -Cut off all those clothes-. //
ML: // I'm just joking with you // 'cause that was the last thing we heard about the chainsaw and then, // "They cut-." //
EP: // They cut-. //
ML: Wow, that guy was pretty deft if he's got a chainsaw.
EP: [Laughter] Ruhnnnnndndn.
ML: [Laughter] OK, go ahead.
EP: My mom, for some reason, my mother has saved the pants and the coat and the underwear. Don't know why. And um, they, they left on my, my tuxedo shirt cause I, that's what I waitressed in and my bra. And I know that because I remember in the hospital, then they had to cut those things off. But anyway, I remember thinking, you know, there's like [laughter] fifty people standing around. But apparently they covered me up and stuff. And um, then they were like, "We're going to have to move you." And I just said, "You can't." They were like, "We're going to have to turn you over and move you," and I was like, "You can't, you can't move me it'll hurt too much." And um, but they did and [pause] it, it was the most horrible thing I've ever felt. I cannot imagine ever feeling that much pain and I just screamed. And um, my screams made my roommates scream, and I mean just, everyone was screaming. And people, you know, like the paramedics, were telling everyone else to calm down, and I was screaming horribly loud. And then we got in the ambulance, and I just remember thinking if we can just get to the hospital, it'll be OK and like thinking that I could go ahead and start to be unconscious now because at least people were taking care of me. And my roommate, Yvonne, was in the front of the ambulance, and she was talking to me. And they wanted to know all this information like my social security number. And, you know, I was telling them my parents' phone number, and they were just amazed that I remembered. They were like, "You probably, don't know this, do you?" And I'm like, "No" and I just told them. And then they were like, "Well, who, you know, what, what can we do for you?" I'm like, "Did anyone call my parents?" Yvonne's like, "Yeah, Kelly called your parents." And I said, "Well, someone needs to call Kirk." And they were like, "Well how do we do that?" And I said, "He's on call with the neuro-surgery team at Detroit Receiving Hospital." And I couldn't remember the pager number at that point, and they were like, I remember one of the paramedics laughing and just going, "Yeah, we'll [laughter] really be able to get a hold of him."
ML: [Laughter]
EP: And I was like, "You have to." And so I told them like Kirk's attending or something at that time. And I just kept [pause] like my eyes would start to close and I remember just hearing the siren and feeling like the jarring of the ambulance. And they were like, "We're going to be there in three minutes." And I was like, "Oh my God, I can't, that's too long, I can't wait three minutes."
ML: Could they not give you any like pain killers-.
EP: No you can't-.
ML: // -Or anything? //
EP: // -You can't // give anyone pain killers until you're sure that they don't have any internal bleeding-.
ML: // Oh-. //
EP: // -Or anything // that pain killers would make them hemorrhage-.
ML: // Speed up, yeah. //
EP: // -And die. //
ML: You're right, yeah.
EP: So um, and I did, I was like, "Can you make my legs stop hurting?" They Erinwere like, "Not until we get there." And so, I would, every time I would start to just black out they would be like, ", you've got to stay with us, you've got to stay awake." And um, as, I was freezing, I was ssshhivering cause it was cold. I mean this was the end of March in Michigan, there was snow on the ground that night. It was very cold. And um, I just, I kept seeing, 'cause this was not long after the Titanic movie had come out, and um, in my head I kept seeing the part where they're drowning or // everyone's-. //
ML: // On the raft. //
EP: -Drowning, and yeah and they're on that, the door or whatever it is that Jack and Rose are just laying on and Rose just keeps saying, "It's getting quiet" and, "It's so cold." And I just kept quoting that and no one knew that I was quoting
ML: [Laughter]
EP: -But I knew that that's what I was doing, because it was cold and it would get really quiet in the ambulance. And then when they'd like, be like "Don't, don't, we don't want to lose you stay conscious." I'd be like, "It's getting quiet. It's so cold." And so, um, they put, I heard someone say, "R-, let's bear hug her." And that was, they had all of these like little hot packs and they just put them everywhere, like, I mean everywhere, on my body, between my thighs, under my arms, just everywhere. It, that got, started to get warm. And um, people kept asking me like, even when I was in the bushes, they'd be like, "Are you doing OK? Are you doing OK?" And I'd be like, "No, I'm not OK, I'm bleeding and I have dirt and-." You know and so then in the ambulance, they kept just asking me, "Are you OK? Are you OK?" It just, kept seeming like such a ridiculous thing to be asking someone in my condition because clearly I was not fine. I would just be like, "No, I'm not." And so, finally, someone was like, "Are you doing OK? Are you doing OK, right now? Are you doing OK tonight?" And I just looked at them and I was like, "I'm definitely not doing OK, tonight." And um, you know so it's funny now, but it wasn't at the time.