I have been the hapless recipient of stupid good luck more than a few times in my life. Notably, the time I almost got robbed by gypsies in Europe. Almost is the operative word. I had been warned, but gypsies are smart. They also don’t play fair. I had a rail pass that would allow me to transit back and forth at will for a six month stretch. I could board a train somewhere in Europe and overnight it to Paris. Someone also gave me good advice. I bumped my pass up to a first class. That meant the sections were particularly empty. It meant if you had a cabin, you often were without fellow travellers. If you were going overnight, you could put two seats down and stretch out as if on a bed. The only interruption might be a whistle stop where the cabin light would come on and a conductor would come in and check your ticket.
One overnight stint, I prepared to sleep, and without thinking about it collected the only things of value in a small black bag and tossed them under the seat below me. The bag had my money, traveller’s cheques, and my passport. Up above in my backpack, I mainly had dirty clothes in need of a good launder, rolled up and compartmentalized in plastic bags. I had one pair of traveling boots for the year, a collection of soiled socks and underwear, broken in and tucked away. Not for the squeamish. The socks bore the collected sweat from walking around for days in fairly rancid boots. They were kept at bay in plastic bags awaiting the next wash cycle.
Of course, it happened. A robbery was attempted. I woke up to find all my stuff in disarray. Presumably the robbers had turned on the light but I had not woken up. I was mystified. Someone told me later on that gypsies are smart. They don’t take any chances so they pipe sleeping gas into the chamber before they enter to ensure you are out cold. As a light sleeper, I don’t doubt it. Nonetheless, I had to take an itinerary of my stuff. Every single item was rifled from the pack and thrown carelessly on the floor. I assessed in the end, that they had not succeeded in stealing anything. They had gone through all my dirty laundry, socks and underwear, chemical warfare that it was, and come up empty. When I checked, the one item of value, the small black pouch containing my passport, money and traveller’s cheques, was intact where I tossed it. No one thought to look elsewhere than the backpack. It was the kind of stupid good luck that could only accompany a very lucky idiot. It might not need saying that my socks and underwear were truly weapons on par with things James Bond might cook up, like the poison pen and the secret camera in the briefcase.To the hapless gypsies who opened my bag of personals, I apologize. I know that once the odour hit the air you were very, very sorry.
I ALMOST had a bad time going through Israeli security. The level of scrutiny single male travellers attract when screened can be egregious. They can pull you aside and make you miss your flight and they are in no hurry. I was of course asked repeatedly the same questions… did someone else give you anything, did somebody pack your baggage, did you leave your baggage alone, etc, etc. Then the final check. The surly security guard took me to a small private chamber and told me to remove my boots. “Are you SURE you want me to take off my boots?” I asked innocently. He looked angry. “Sir, take off your boots NOW” he demanded. Needless to say, I was quickly out of the booth and on my way. My lucky socks scored another round.
As they say, almost is a big word. If you almost got robbed, almost ended up dead, almost had an accident you likely were also the blind recipient of dumb good luck.
When I sit down and make a mental list, I have had blind good luck in a lot of things. I had blind good luck finding a wife (at a bomb scare), blind good luck finding work more often than not.
I remember quitting the studio where I worked as a junior artist. I was tired of being everybody’s coffee boy. I wanted to be paid more, and treated better. I told them I was going to court sketch. They laughed at me. I went home, no paycheque in sight and a month away from rent, and did up some samples. I took the bus up to a television studio and asked to be let in. When I told them why I was there, they said… “what a coincidence. Our court sketch guy is away in Europe for the summer and we are desperately phoning around trying to find somebody. What are you doing right NOW?” The next ten years are history.
I had blind good luck finding accommodation when I had no deposit for a second month. I have blindly wandered through a lifetime of like blessings, often grumbling and sipping from the cup half empty. I have had the unexpected help of friends when in need, and I have been caught mid-fall from some precarious heights. I have had the blind good luck of tackling complicated projects with no idea of how to proceed, and navigated without a stumble. Ignorance has been my friend because I frequently stepped where angels would fear to tread, with no idea what I was getting into.
I have thought at times I should write a book, except that I would have to list it as fiction because there would be a credibility gap. No one would believe me. A lot of things have happened to me in sixty plus years. A lot more things have ALMOST happened to me. The difference, is something for which I should be profoundly grateful.
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