Lucky Breaks

September 04 2013

I often get irked by minor hassles: Speeding and parking tickets. Car trouble. Cancelled flights. Stomach flus. Rude people. Spotty cell phone coverage. Getting ripped off. These are all little things, and usually the products of my own creation, but they make me mad anyway.

It helps to put things in perspective. I think about my lucky breaks and near misses. When I was 12, two friends and I trespassed on private property to explore a cave, and an man standing in the field fired a shotgun at us. He was far enough away that the shot bounced off our skin. If he'd been closer we could have been injured or worse.

In college I was walking at night with a friend and a car pulled up and the passenger pointed a pistol at us. Idiotically, I walked up to him and asked him what kind of gun it was. He was so nonplussed that he told me the make and model of his pistol and then ordered the driver to drive away.

Another time I was driving with friends in my car in Boulder, Colorado. This was 1982 or so. It was two in the morning and the car was rattling with empty beer cans. As I drove, I wondered why the traffic lights were all out. A police car pulled us over. He told me I was driving the wrong way down a one way street. He asked me to step out of the car, and shined his flashlight in the car. He saw all the beer cans. He took my license and told me to wait by the car, then went into his car to radio back to the station. Five minutes later he got out of the car and said, "Turn your car around and go home." And then he got in his car and drove away. I still have no idea why he didn't at least give me a ticket for having and open container and for driving the wrong way.

My lucky breaks have outnumbered my unlucky ones, and I'm very grateful.

Mark Frauenfelder
[email protected]
Los Angeles

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