Luck is a funny thing. Sometimes it snowballs and you just can’t believe how fate has smiled upon you. Kinda like Timmy Smith in Super Bowl XXII. Sometimes it goes the other way. Like how a small group of Navy divebombers changed the course of the Battle of Midway for the Japanese Empire. Other times I think it just depends on your perspective. What may appear to bad luck is actually a stroke of good fortune. A blessing. And if you recognize it as such, it may lead to more good luck.
That’s kinda what happened to me this weekend.
I’m picking up the girls Friday after school. Mom is already home packing her car because we’re headed out to her sister’s house. Almost a two hour drive. The girls and I are discussing what they are going to bring in the car with them to stay busy. This always transpires like Germany’s behavior in the late 30’s. Riley is telling everybody what to do while everybody appeases her until she stops. It never works out well.
So I apply the brakes and hit the left turn signal as I approach our street. Done it thousands of times. Except I’ve never done it without any sort of gas powered locomotion. Or steering. Or brakes.
My car literally died right there as I’m turning onto our street. I had only turned the wheel far enough to drift across the left lane and coast gently into the curb. Except the back end my car is sticking out into traffic. And this is a fairly busy street at about 5:00 on Friday afternoon.
Quickly, I examine my options. 1) I could get out and hope the gamma radiation Dr. Bruce Banner and I were exposed to during our experiments kicks in and I turn green and into Lou Ferrigno. 2) I could start swearing. A lot. 3) Something else.
I got the girls out of the car and had them walk the 150 yards or so to our house. I quickly realized that their suggestions like “Dad you need to move the car” and “Dad you missed the turn” weren’t really going to help. Then a guy in a Dish Network van turns left behind me and stops on our street. He hops out and asks if I need any help.
Turns out I do.
I shift the car into neutral, we wait for a short break in traffic, and we push the car back from the curb and then forward onto our street. As this is happening a guy running happens to jog by.
“Hey you guys need a hand?”
Turns out we did.
We push the car about 20 yards and I ask if they help me push it down the street and help me get it into driveway. To paraphrase Fee Waybill from The Tubes in “Talk to Ya Later,” they reluctantly agreed. Our street is pretty flat. But my car is an SUV. And you really don’t notice the insignificant changes in elevation on your street until you’re pushing an SUV. I have one hand on the steering wheel and the other pushing the car. Jogger Guy and Dish Network Guy are pushing from the back. Then one of the teenagers who lives on our street sees us struggling and he comes out.
“Looks like you guys could use some help.”
Turns out we could.
Right as you get to our driveway there is what cartographers might call a slight rise. Or, if you’re really tired, an incline of epic magnitude. It was not an easy task but we reached the crest and gained a little speed on the down slope. My neighbor sees this from his driveway and comes running over.
“One more can’t hurt.”
Turns out it couldn’t.
We get it into the driveway but get stuck. Jogger Guy says he’s out of gas. I give him a fist bump, say thanks and he jogs away. Ironic. Dish Network guy is already running back to his van and Teenager Neighbor Kid walks back home. I give them both a wave. I’m still not switching to Dish Network. Mom comes out and gets behind the wheel. Neighbor Guy and I push the car back a little and then up across the sidewalk.
Turns out the city fines you if you block the sidewalk over night with your vehicle in your driveway. Damn government.
Anyhow, we park it, lock it and head to Mom’s sister’s house.
We’re there for a wedding on Saturday. A wedding that starts at 2:00. Which means we have to leave the house about 1:15. Which means I don’t get to watch the second half of the Iowa State-Nebraska game.
The only text message update I get during the wedding is “gotta get rid of our kicker!” This does not give me hope. Mom’s other sister calls home after the wedding and finds out that we’re up 9-7 with 2 minutes left.
Picture this: grown man wearing a black suit in a dead on full sprint across a church parking lot. I was moving so fast I created a wind vortex behind me that sucked up all the fallen leaves. It looked like jet exhaust. I was pretty sure I heard Oscar Goldman narrating my sprint with “better, faster, stronger…” That loud “WOOOOOOOOO! you heard about 2:45 p.m. on Saturday was me.
9-7 baby! Last time we won in Lincoln was when Charlie was talking to the Angels on that crazy speaker box. This all happens as Mom’s family is trying to take a family picture outside the church. And there are about 50 people involved here including about 20 little kids. And there’s me standing in the parking lot yelling “WOOOOOOO!”
But here’s the thing. I could have been really angry and cursed the bad luck of my car dying right in the middle of a busy street as I’m turning across traffic while I have the girls in the car. But I didn’t. I thought it was pretty damn lucky that it happened right there on our street. And even luckier that some neighbors and strangers decided to actually help me push the car down the street.
Because I thought it was all rather lucky that it happened the way it did, the good luck snowballed.
Instead of being upset that we had to go into Memorial Stadium without our starting quarterback and the conference’s leading rusher, I thought to myself that this is how legends are born.
So who knows? If I get angry on Friday maybe the Cyclones don’t pull it out on Saturday? If I curse the bad luck about the car maybe the Huskers don’t go three and out on ISU’s 35 after they blocked a field goal and changed the momentum.
So I’m telling you…you never know…