Early on the morning of July 11, Nick Bostic was driving through his hometown of Lafayette, Indiana, when he saw a potential tragedy in the making.
Bostic saw a house on fire and immediately morphed into full-on action hero.
“I slammed on the brakes, I turned the steering wheel, I did a 180.” he told the WLFI local television station, as quoted by the Associated Press. “I ran into the back of the house and was yelling for anybody. Four faces. three or four faces, came out the top.”
As Bostic said, he rushed in to the house and helped an 18-year-old woman hustle three other teenagers out of the building. But there was still a child, 6 years old, inside.
So Bostic went back into the house — without any emergency gear or supplemental oxygen — and followed the sound of crying to the child. With the smoke threatening to overcome him, he leaped from a second-story window with the child in his arms.
The child sustained a minor cut. Bostic spent two days in a hospital where he was treated for smoke inhalation, a severe cut on his arm and other injuries.
He’s also being feted as a hero — a police officer at the scene told him, “You did good, dude, OK?”
The Associated Press doesn’t say what Bostic was doing driving around town after midnight, but it’s probably safe to assume that he was on his way home from his job as a pizza delivery driver.
Suddenly, that movie-stunt-driver 180-degree turn makes a lot more sense. Delivering pizza in an urban area — Lafayette has a little more than 70,000 residents, according to the 2020 census, so that counts — is some of the toughest driving, for both man and machine, this side of the Indianapolis 500.
I say that from the experience of delivering pizza for a small independent shop about 35 years ago when I lived in Pittsburgh.
That job took me to colleges including the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and Duquesne University and city institutions like WQED’s television station.
And those weren’t even my most memorable delivery. That honor would go to the time in March of 1994, when I took an order to West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh’s Bloomfield neighborhood.
Around midnight every night, we would get a hospital rush, where nurses at the 10 or so hospitals we delivered to would place orders for the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.
On this night, the nursing unit at West Penn sent a cute blond nurses’ aide to pick up the order at the emergency room.
She noticed my large plastic-frame glasses and said, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Clark Kent?” — years before I would become a mild-mannered newspaper reporter.
I thought she was flirting with me. Turns out that I was wrong, but in my defense, Christopher Reeve was synonymous at the time with Superman and, by extension, Clark Kent.
A beautiful woman tells me that I look like Christopher Reeve and I’m supposed to think she isn’t flirting?
I asked her out. More than once, before she finally accepted.
Long story short, we’ve been married 24 years.
That’s why I’ll always have fond thoughts for my time delivering pizza and for fellow drivers like Nick Bostic.
While his heroism is outstanding — in nearly 10 years as a pizza driver, I didn’t save any children from a burning building, but I once rescued a Hooters waitress from an empty gas tank on the Parkway East — it’s not unprecedented.
In 2016 after Hurricane Matthew struck Florida, a Michigan man was worried about his grandmother living in Flagler County, Fla. So he ordered a pizza to be sent to her house, with instructions that the driver was supposed to call the grandson when he arrived.
The woman was well — and well-fed, thanks to the pizza her grandson sent her.
That heartwarming story attracted national headlines, and with Bostic’s heroism, the noble pizza driver is, again, enjoying an unusual moment in the spotlight.
But even when they’re not saving lives, we’re always happy to see them.
Unless the pizza is cold.
ERIC POOLE is Editor of The Herald. Contact him with news tips, complaints, but not pizza orders — he doesn’t do that any more — by email at email@example.com or by phone at 724-981-6100 ext. 247.