Lessons Learned from Getting My Teeth Knocked Out

Dear Friend,

Have you ever had situations where you were right, but you still lost?

Remember those times as I tell you about lessons I learned from getting my teeth knocked out.

I had the right of way and still lost my front teeth.

Lesson #1: Don’t Be Hasty

I was 17. I had graduated from high school in June and was working a retail job. I saw the work schedule and had some days off to be at camp in August.

I was looking forward to it. I could be out of town and at a place I had come to enjoy and look forward to being at every year. If I wasn’t going to be there the whole week like I used to be back before I was an employee, then at least I might get to be there for most of the week.

Not so. The work schedule changed. I got added in for evening shifts for the week when I would’ve been at camp. I was still on probation and wasn’t yet eligible for taking vacation, so I had to cooperate with whatever the work schedule was.

Oh, well. I could still be at camp for part of the week. And I could see already that it was the end of an era. I now had an income to attend to, and it looked like I couldn’t have as much enjoyment as I used to.

So, I returned from camp and did my evening shift at work. I was relieved to leave and get riding my bicycle back home.

Why wasn’t I driving that night? Work was close enough to home that I typically walked or rode my bicycle.

It was after 9:00 p.m., and I was almost back home. It was dark out. And I was in a hurry.

I’d still have my front teeth if I hadn’t been hasty that night.

Lesson #2: Didn’t Matter That I Had the Right of Way

There was a hill on the way home and a stop light to pass through. I was going downhill. The light had just turned green. I needed to go straight through.

I had the right of way. But that didn’t matter.

I was going fast. And an SUV cut me off. They turned sharp. I was going straight. They turned left. I could tell the driver saw me based on how sharply they did the turn. They were in a hurry, too.

Time seemed to slow down.

I slammed on the brakes so I wouldn’t slam into the SUV. I didn’t have the time or the space to do anything else. It was already too late.

I slowed down enough to avoid the SUV. It was very close, but it passed through the intersection untouched.

Good. Danger averted. Or so I thought…

Then the unthinkable happened. The bicycle flipped and took me with it.

I flew through the air with the greatest of unease, unlike that man on the flying trapeze.

My face hit the pavement. Good thing I wore a helmet. It could have been so much worse.

Lesson #3: Get Up Right Away and Keep Going

I knew I was in pain. I also knew I had to clear the intersection before the light turned red.

I got up right away. Picked up the front piece of my helmet that had just come off. Picked up my bicycle. And kept going. I walked with a limp. But at least I could walk.

I didn’t know my front teeth were left behind on the pavement. All I knew was I was too injured to ride my bicycle the rest of the way home.

I walked as fast as I could. I was curious to see what my face looked like. It was in pain, and I knew I was bleeding.

It wasn’t until I was back home, however many minutes later, and looking in the bathroom mirror, that I saw my face was bloody, and my front teeth were gone. It was a funny sight. I had a bloody goatee. The blood had formed perfectly around my mouth. I still remember what it looked like.

I felt alive.

I cleaned my face the best I could, which wasn’t much. My face still looked like it had clearly been through something. And that’s beside the fact that my front teeth were missing.

My face still looked bloody when I returned to work the next day. I got sent home. The only time that happened at that job.

I didn’t go to the hospital. And my dentist was away until the following week. But I had some scheduled days off. I only had to wait.

Lesson #4: It Helps to Have Friends in High Places

I needed to have my front teeth replaced. My dentist got back and knew what to do. I didn’t have any dental coverage.

What would I do?

Thankfully, my dentist was my main real-life father figure, Dr. Keith. We had known each other for approximately ten years at that point. His son, Matthew, and I went to elementary school together. Matthew and I both played t-ball. We also spent time together twice a day during summer vacations during our early teenage years.

Through the years, Dr. Keith had played a vital role in my development. I treasure the times we had together. I can credit a lot of the positivity of who I am as a man to him. He gave me a gift for my high school graduation, which I still have. We both enjoy reading books, learning, growing, wisdom, and helping others however we can.

As for the dental work I needed, Dr. Keith gave me a deal, and I got to have front teeth again.

That was lucky. And it showed me that it helps to know the right people. It helps to have friends in high places.


What about you? What lessons have you learned from times when you were right, but you still lost?

Whether you learned “Don’t be hasty,” “Get up right away and keep going,” “It helps to have friends in high places,” or something else, it does help that you learned something.

It can be tempting to put a negative spin on whatever the lessons were, but that won’t help you. It will only help if you see how the lessons are useful for you.

It can look like a negative thing that I lost my front teeth. I was foolish that night. I sped up when I needed to slow down. If I had relaxed about getting home, that SUV would have passed through the intersection before I got there. I wouldn’t have had to slam on my bicycle brakes, and I wouldn’t have flipped onto the pavement.

As I said earlier, it could have been so much worse. What if I hadn’t been wearing a helmet? Or what if I had hit the SUV instead? I got out of it relatively unscathed.

I consider myself lucky, and I’m grateful that I could walk away from my mistakes that night. I was fortunate, and you have been, too. You have learned something even if you lost from being right at various times.

What did you learn? Share about that in the comments section below.

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Until next time,

James Barnett

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2 thoughts on “Lessons Learned from Getting My Teeth Knocked Out”

  1. James, that was a very nasty way to get knocked down. But you got back up. Thank goodness you could. It could have been much worse, as you said. Angels must have been with you. You have a destiny for sure. You got up and kept on going. No matter what, no matter that you lost your front teeth and had other injuries. You are very strong. You even learned lessons from this. Well done, that is wisdom. You are inspiring.

    1. Maisie, it’s interesting that I didn’t get a concussion. My helmet and my teeth must have absorbed enough of the impact. I still remember the taste of my blood and the pavement. I’m glad I was able to get up right away and clear the intersection. Thankfully, there were no other vehicles in motion at the time.

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