“Epiphany” by Justin Lanton – 04.16.2017



By Justin Lanton, Staff Writer


I woke up to the sound of my alarm as I looked at the clock, I realized I was very late for work. It was extremely hot outside, and I burst into a sweat literally as I walked to my Jeep. I was driving fast to the World Shooting Complex and I heard this annoying song come on the radio. I heard the song before, but I always changed it to something else. I never gave the song much thought, before what happened on this hot summer day. The song is called “(Epiphany) I’m Leaving” sung by Chrisette Michele.

According to blogcritics.org the writers of the song are Chuck Harmony and Ne-Yo. The song is about a woman getting tired of her boyfriend cheating on her and she decides to leave him finally. The song won the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards in 2010, and was a hit off off  Michele’s album, Epiphany. 

Born in 1982, she sang gospel songs with her family in church. Her father kept her and her sisters busy by taking tap dancing and piano lessons. At age 17 the artist had an epiphany after a teacher gave her a CD containing the Bossa Nova standard “The Girl from Ipanema”. Chrisette Michele then started to love jazz and spent endless hours in her room learning to play jazz. After the young singer learned to play better on the piano she started doing gigs at local venues. Neo-soul singer India Arie spotted her at Manhattan’s Village Underground club, and enlisted Chrisette Michele to be her opening act.

At that same club, she was also discovered by representatives of Def Jam, who were enamored with her vocal abilities, and had her signed to the label by 2006. She helped write songs for various artists and sang with them as well. After she began her music career she released her first album in 2007 and then her second in 2009 called Epiphany with the song “(Epiphany) I’m leaving.”

I never thought a song would have an impact on my experiences. However “(Epiphany) I’m Leaving” had a great impact on this day. I pulled up in the parking lot and not only was I late, but some of the workers in my group didn’t show up for work so I was short about six people. It was really hot outside and I had to run to multiple trap houses at once. I had to load, score, and be trap supervisor all at the same time. I was so tired and worn out. I literally had sweat running down me just like water. The trap shooters actually felt so sorry for me that they gave me drinks and snacks. I had to work countless hours in the hellish heat. I didn’t even have time to stop and eat or use the restroom.

Finally when my sixteen hour shift was almost over I got to take a nice break in the safe zone. Safe zones are just tents that are a good distance away from the shooters, so you can take your ear plugs out and have some food to eat and drink. I sat down, relaxed and enjoyed some nice cold Smartwater and watched the shooters off in the distance. I felt the wind blow and get cooler outside.

Everything started slowing down and became calm. A young girl started to walk towards the safe zone to take a break from shooting. She had her Remington 12 gauge shotgun in one hand and a bottle of water in the other. The girl’s hands were wet with sweat and from the bottle of water she was drinking. Everyone that shoots at the Grand American Shooting Competition are supposed to make sure their weapon is unloaded before entering the safe zone or anywhere other than the shooting range. I believe the girl was just really tired from shooting all day. These shooters shoot from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. at night and sometimes even longer. The girl was resting and enjoying her water when her father called her up to shoot again. She jumped up really fast. At the same time she jumped up, someone called me to run out to a trap house. Someone wanted to talk to a supervisor about of one of the trap houses, and I was supervising. I stood up at the same time as the girl did. The shotgun the girl had in her hand slipped out and the gun hit the ground going off. I almost had my head blown off by the gun.

At first, I was completely deaf and shocked. It was just like a war movie, I saw people screaming and running, everything was a big blur to me. I saw people yelling at me, but I couldn’t hear anything they were saying nor yelling at me. I started to freak out and got scared. I heard this loud high pitch sound in my ears. I remembered checking to see if I was bleeding out of my ears, to make sure I didn’t have my ear drums blown out. I felt relieved when I didn’t feel anything coming out of my ears, but I was still deaf. To make matters worse I had the song “(Epiphany) I’m Leaving” stuck in my head. Now not only was I deaf and had a high pitch ringing sound in my ears, I had this God awful song stuck in my head.  

While all this chaos was happening I had this song stuck in my head. The verse was: “So I think I’m just about over being your girlfriend (girlfriend)/ I’m leaving, I’m leaving/ No I wonder what you’ve been doing/ Where you been sleeping / (it’s over)/ I’m leaving/ I’m leaving.” Going through all the heat, starving, sweating all over myself, and almost getting killed was a lot more than I could handle for one day. At one point when all this was happening I felt I actually left the world at that moment. I thought I was really about to die or be deaf for the rest of my life. I was ready to quit there, and never work at the World Shooting Complex ever again. Being almost shot and killed made me have an epiphany just like the song “(Epiphany) I’m leaving.” The epiphany was that I was leaving, and not going to work a summer at the World Shooting Complex ever again.

After the incident, the Director of the World Shooting Complex came up to me and drove me to the main building where the offices were. They let me take a shower and gave me clean clothes. After I was done with my shower and putting on new clothes the director’s secretary was waiting for me. She told me to come with her; the director would like to speak to me. I followed her to his office. When I came into the room it looked like he had two of his lawyers there with him and the chairmen of the Complex with him as well. They talk to me about how sorry they are for this accident and reassure me that they are willing to do anything to make this better. The girl who dropped the gun was suspended from that year’s shooting challenge. I felt bad for the girl, but she should have been more careful especially with a loaded fire arm.

I automatically knew they all were being nice to me because they were scared of a lawsuit. The director started to talk to me about not telling anyone outside the office what had happened. He said they are willing to give me a bonus plus pay me double time for the time I’ve worked. I wasn’t really thinking they would give me much money. I thought they would offer me a couple thousand dollars, but the director wrote me a check right there on the spot. I looked at the check and saw how much it was and thought he made a mistake and put to many zeros on the check. The director told me to sign this contract pretty much saying don’t sue us and you can have this large sum of money. I couldn’t believe how fast they got all their lawyers and contract all typed up and ready. It just seemed like this happened in a two hour time span and they would be prepared for this. I really didn’t know I could sue them for what happened. I just thought when stuff like this happened you took the responsibility on your own. I honestly wouldn’t have sued them because I didn’t know you could have sued them for that.

After I received the check I told them I was quitting and not going to work there ever again. I thanked them for the check and went to the bank to deposit the money. It took about a week for me to get my hearing back and not hear that awful high pitch sound anymore. I bought a Mercedes-Benz about a week later after the incident and put another sum of the money I received into investments towards my future.

After leaving the World Shooting Complex later that week I suffered from post traumatic stress and shell shock. I would be talking to my boss at my other job at the hospital or talking to co-workers and my ears would start ringing. I heard the high pitch ringing sound and would be deaf for that moment. I had to have co-workers yell at me when they talked to me because I was hard of hearing. It took about a week and a half before I was fully recovered from shell shock. This just reinforced my epiphany, which I will never work out there ever again.

Now every time I hear the song I think of the experience I encountered and laugh about it to myself. The song is always a reminder to me of how close to death I came. Also, I am more cautious when I am around guns and always check to make sure they are always unloaded. It makes me more aware of how close I came to getting my head blown off.

Every time that song plays I realize how short life is. Now when I hear the song it is not as annoying as it was before I had this life changing experience happen to me. It is not such a bad song after all.