Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Anti-Murphy's Law: When things can go wrong, but don't

Bad luck calls attention to itself. Good luck can be easier to overlook. We just take it for granted when things go well. But we grumble all too easily when things go badly.

So I make it a practice to try to look on the bright side of what seems like bad luck. I try to acknowledge examples of the anti-Murphy’s Law: sometimes, lots of things could go wrong, but don’t.

Yesterday, for example, I had to admit that my flat tire occurred under the best circumstances possible. Doesn't it seem like car trouble always happens when you're running behind schedule, heading to somewhere you urgently need to be, and it's dark or freezing cold or raining or ninety degrees in the shade, and there's no one available to help?

Not yesterday, and that was what I kept reminding myself as I waited for hours in the tire repair shop. My flat tire happened just after noon as I was heading to the office for an afternoon shift that could go on just as efficiently without me. It was about 55 degrees out and sunny, and my husband was working from home for the day. I had a jacket and sensible shoes on; I didn't need to go to the bathroom, and I had neither children nor dog in the car with me.

Car trouble doesn't get much better than that.

I tried to keep this in mind as I waited impatiently for my husband to meet me on the highway shoulder, and as I waited impatiently for him to put on the spare tire, and as I waited some more at the tire shop for the original tire to be replaced. By all rights, this should have been much worse, I reminded myself. Truly, the biggest thing I could complain about was that I had packed myself a delicious lunch to eat in the office and it was sitting in my car in the service bay, so as I sat in the comfortably appointed waiting area, I was growing increasingly hungry.

But even that seemed trivial. So many factors could have made the situation so much worse. Just a day earlier, having attended a late-afternoon wake for a friend's father, I'd been driving through the dark streets of an unfamiliar city. And then I met Rick and the kids for dinner, and Rick left early in his own car and I let Tim drive home so that he could get some nighttime highway practice. We could have had our flat tire after dark, with Tim at the wheel.

Or it could have been cold or hot or rainy, or Rick could have been out of town, or I could have been driving to the airport to catch a flight. I could have been in a tunnel, on a bridge, in a construction zone.

But none of these was the case. It was midafternoon on a warm sunny autumn day when I heard the rackety-rack sound characteristic of a flat tire. I pulled onto an extra-wide shoulder on a stretch of highway fifteen minutes from home and waited for Rick to bail me out.

And bail me out he did. Sure, I should know how to change my own tire. But I don't. Roadside assistance is good; a willing husband is better. And yesterday, with all the circumstances in my favor, was the best of all. Bad luck happens. But this was about as good as bad luck gets.

No comments:

Post a Comment