Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bad Luck

I don't believe that a person can be "cursed" or "blessed". It is certainly possible that a person can have things turn out badly for then more often than other people, but I dont think there is any explanation for that other than luck. Random chance and coincidence play such a huge role in our lives. It's unsettling to think we don't have absolute control over what happens to us. I guess how our lives turnout depends on how we play the cards we are dealt by chance. Chance handles about half the work, and your own attitude and drive takes up the rest. Someone could have bad luck for a while, but a great attitude about it, and it would appear that that person is doing A-OK. Others could have great luck and not appreciate it, and it would appear they are having a hard time.

I say: Do your best at all you do; that's all anyone can expect. And don't take things too seriously. The ability to laugh at or brush off a bad event or situation, and the willingness to get back up after falling could save your life, or at least make it a lot more enjoyable. Keep things in perspective.

I had a round of minor bad luck that started on Monday. Regan headed south to San Diego for a couple of days, so I was left to my own devices. In the past, before I was married, this would not have been a problem for me. Nowadays, I've let myself delegate certain tasks that I used to handle myself to my wife. Things like remembering the date of an upcoming event, the street-by-street directions to a certain location, reminding me not to forget my keys as I walk out the door. . . I'll return to that last one later.

As I was leaving JPL on Monday, I opened my windows to let the breeze in. I started hearing a periodic "clack, clack, clack" coming from outside the right window. Pulling over, I found that it was coming from my right rear tire, which was flat. A nail had been embedded in the tread, and was making the clacking noise as it hit the asphalt on every rotation. Looking in the trunk, I found I had a compressor(my wife must have put it there). I re-inflated the tire and found that the leak was slow enough to drive home on. A good thing, since it was too late to take the tire in to be fixed that day, and I had to use the freeways to get home (the tiny spare is not meant for speeds over 50 mph).

So there it was, some bad luck (flat tire) and some good luck (compressor in the back). No problem. Home. Bed.

Next morning I gear up for the day: directions to Discount Tire Co. to get the tires fixed and rotated, swimsuit, towel, and mask for aquarium volunteering, backpack for work, white car key. About that car key: I keep it separate from my main key chain, since I have my key to the other car on that chain and I don't like to have two keyless entry remotes on the same keychain (too bulky). Stepped out the door, twisting the knob lock, and let the door swing toward shutting. Put my hand in my pocket to get out my house key to lock the top lock. . . the keys are not in my pocket. . . *click*. The door shuts. I stand motionless for about 30 seconds. What should I do? My nearest source for another key to my condo is in San Diego. . . We have tons of extra keys. . . all on the other side of the door. My hand flies up and strikes my forehead with a thunderous SMACK!

Time is of the essence, as I have to get the tire fixed and then get on the road to Long Beach. I borrow a key to the garage and elevator from a neighbor downstairs, so I can get to my car. Then it's off to discount tire and down to Long Beach. I dive happily and give presentations and feed animals. I call Phil to ask if I can stay at his house in Downey for the night. I can. Sit through a 4 hour CPR class, then it's off to Downey to get to Phil's house. Get up early and drive to work. By the end of the day, I realize I have lost the garage key and elevator key that I borrowed from the neighbor less than 24 hours before. Regan gets home that night, lets me in, and all is well.

So, over just two days (those days when Regan was gone) I got a flat tire, locked myself out of my condo, and lost a set of keys lent to me by a good samaritan neighbor. On the bad side, I feel like a moron with bad luck. On the good side, I got to have a bit of an adventure, and I had neighbors and friends available to help me out.

I don't believe someone can be cursed or blessed. And I know the fact that these things happened only during the short period my wife was away was only a coincidence. But it sure didn't feel like it at first. It felt like I was cursed. The fact that I had people willing to help me made it easy to have a good attitude about it all, though.


Regan Galvan said...

I will never leave you again. :)

Tommaso Sciortino said...

Ha! Married life has made you weak. You are no longer the Klingon of a macho-man we knew you to be before.