Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Luck, Revisited

“What God is particularly good at,” says my friend EC, “is kicking you in the stomach.”  There’s not much sense having a Nietzschean discussion with E on this point. She’s had a tough few months. She got ill and it was worst than she’d thought, a pneumonia that exhausted her sick leave and drained her bank account. Even as her insurance kicked in 90 percent reimbursement, the cost of the three-day hospital stay almost made her faint. Her parents had to help her pay the difference, which led to some grumbling and ill feelings that a 35-year-old woman should be able to pay her own bills and not ask a mom and dad on fixed income to give her money.  Shortly after she recovered her boyfriend informed her things just weren’t working as well as they should and they should split. No discussion ensued—it was done over the phone and that was that.

E read the piece I wrote a couple of weeks ago about luck and told me that until the last couple of years she had felt, if not lucky, at least not unlucky. She’d been married very young and divorced more or less amicably a few years later. They still sent each other birthday and Christmas cards after he’d moved to the West coast to become a screenwriter. She had thought of maybe moving to Florida but in the end stayed in NoVa because her friends were here, there was some support and an acceptable retail job in a local mall.

Things started going to hell when her dog died, about two months before the pneumonia struck. The boyfriend was understanding for about a week and then he suggested she go to the animal rescue place and get another animal and she thought this was pretty insensitive. She’d had the dog 12 years and you don’t get over a loss that quickly, but she didn’t say anything.  Then she got demoted from being one of the shift supervisors at the store to salesperson. The place, one of a hundred outfits in a nationwide chain, was trying to trim its budget and the boss told her she was fortunate, she was keeping her job, even if it was at a reduced salary, when others were losing theirs. She’d still have medical coverage, which was the only reason she stayed. A blessing, as it turned out.

So the boyfriend bailed on her, and then her car, an aging Toyota with busted springs, broke down and the garage she took it to said repairs would cost about two grand, which would totally wipe her out. Luckily E had a bike and a friend fixed it up for her, inflated the tires and greased all the cables, so she had a way to get to work, which wasn’t too far from where she lived. The third day pedaling to her store, she parked the bike in the bike rack in the mall’s parking lot and came out after her shift ended to find the rear wheel crushed. Someone had hit the bike with a car and, of course, not left a note.

All of this is why she said God is particularly good at kicking you in the stomach. I tink she’s right.

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