WATCH OUT FOR FALLING SHOES
by Nancy Rechtman
I believe people can be divided into two groups. I'm sure you have your own ideas of which two groups we all fit into. But it's become clear to me lately that there is a conspicuous difference in the way people think. It all comes down to how you answer the following question: When something good happens to you, what is your first thought?
OK, those of you in Group #1 think something like, "How great! Life is good and I'm happy." As you might have guessed, I am not in Group #1. Those of you who stand by my side in Group #2 already know that your thought process goes something like this: Oh no, something good just happened, when is the *@#% going to hit the fan? We are only too familiar with the principal that for every good thing that happens to us, the universe can only remain in balance by showering at least double or triple that amount of bad things back upon us. Only then can we relax. I'm not saying that we will be met with actual disasters. Usually, the balance comes in the form of annoying and frustrating events that sap away at any joy that might have come our way.
Recently, I had several good things happen to me. I rejoiced momentarily. I shared the good news with friends and family. And then I waited. Retribution was swift and unyielding. First, came in the form of our annual trek up North, thankfully scheduled before the most recent restrictions on liquids and gels carried onto planes, as my family usually travels with enough water and Propel to create our own swimming pool. Anyway, we were leaving mid-afternoon and arrived at the airport about an hour and a half before our flight. We waited patiently for our time to board. As it became obvious that we were not going to board the plane on time, people started looking around, waiting for an announcement which finally came in the form of an announcement that the plane wouldn't be leaving on time due to a "ground situation" on the other end, but we would receive an update in half an hour. We all looked at each other, wondering if anyone understood airlinespeak. When the customer service agent noticed a horde of confused passengers approaching, she quickly translated that there were thunderstorms at our destination and we'd have to wait to take off. Each half hour, we received the news that we would get another update in another half hour. After two hours, we were assured that the plane was waiting for us right outside the gate, and that we should please remain where we were as we would definitely be taking off soon. As this sounded reasonable, everyone obediently complied. Three hours after we were due to take off came the following announcement: Ladies and gentlemen, your flight has been cancelled. Please go downstairs to find a ticket agent and re-book your flight.
Everyone was immobilized for a second, then the race to find someone who could help us began. It turned out that there were no more flights that day to our destination so I re-booked for the wee hours of the morning. The next morning, as we blearily approached security, the woman looked at our tickets and informed us that we were tagged for extra security. We wondered why. We were informed that it was because we had just booked the flight. But, we protested, our flight was cancelled last night and the airline re-booked us on this flight. No matter, we were informed. We'd have to go through the super duper screening. Now, I'd rather the airlines be safe than sorry. Honestly. But having our fellow passengers stare curiously at us as we were patted down in front of everyone and to have every inch of our carry-on luggage searched was just a tad embarrassing. And we continued receiving curious stares by everyone in our general vicinity while we once again waited to board our plane.
Once at our destination, I won't even go into what happened on Day #3, but take my word for it, the debt to good news continued getting repaid.
Several weeks later, we took a quick trip to the beach before school started. It is normally about a 4 ½ hour drive to the beach. It took us close to 7 hours, thanks to the geniuses who decided there doesn't need to be an actual highway once you approach the beach, but instead, travelers are required to sit at every traffic light at every corner for a 20 mile stretch which adds 2 hours to their trip, so that by the time they do arrive at the beach, they won't even care what their accommodations look like or how far they end up from the water.
On our second night there, we decided to run up our charge card even further and go to one of the big extravaganzas that also include a dinner. Since I don't eat meat, I asked for the vegetarian meal, a request, I'm sure, they don't get too often. But my dinner tasted fine, we all had a great time, and headed back to the hotel. Within two hours, I was so sick, that I basically had to get mopped off of the bathroom floor. Yes, I had food poisoning. For hours. The next day, my son was stung by a jellyfish.
We are home once again. Maybe I should just stop traveling. But I don't think that's it. As a member of Group #2, I know why all of these things happened. But I feel as if I've paid my debt for the good news I received earlier this summer. Actually, I think I've overpaid the debt. So maybe the next time I have something good happen, I won't have to worry quite as much about the other shoe falling. Right.
Please let me know your reactions to these columns as I would enjoy hearing what bugs you, too. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved. Small excerpts of the column may be republished as long as appropriate credit is given. To request permission to publish larger portions or the entire column, e-mail email@example.com.