Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bad start

I got up this morning filled with determination. I have been letting my workout slip the past couple of weeks, between a cold and holiday malaise. This morning I arose at my usual obscene hour made coffee and was out the door by 5:30. As I walked out the door a few snowflakes hit me just as I was beginning to wonder if this was going to be the snowless year, and began my walk downtown.

I made it as far as the block between Berkeley and Arlington when I spotted someone pulled over trying to change a tire. This young guy had obviously never changed a tire before. He had already jacked the truck up and was trying to loosen the lugs. I almost walked on, but my better impulses stopped me. I asked if he wanted some help, and he gratefully accepted. I lowered the car, broke the seal on the nuts and jacked the car back up. Things would have been fine after that except for the spare. A curse on General Motors and on all engineers. Some genius had come to the conclusion that mounting the spare under the car was a good idea. I have had to struggle with similar arrangements before but never with a tire that was suspended by a single bolt. A single bolt I might add that was rusted solid after a few New England winters of road salt. So, taking further pity, I went to CVS which I knew was open and bought a can of WD-40. This in itself was an adventure, since I was in line behind a woman having an altercation with the cashier because he wouldn't accept her credit card without further proof of ID, because she hadn't signed her card. If that wasn't enough fun. There was a couple in front of me and the woman was tweeked out of her mind. Jumping up and down and back and forth. Jumping forward grabbing things out of the displays on the counters and then putting them back. All the while accompanying this with a loud running commentary on how long it was taking. The first woman at this point has become thoroughly if unjustifiably offended and is demanding to see the manager. She is being dissed and doesn't have to put up with this. At this point the manager actually walked through the door and got to have her turn with being haranged. Finally, one of the store slaves opened the self-serve and tweeky and boyfriend leapt to the machine, which she had no idea of how to operate. Fortunately, some kind soul moved in and helped her process her purchases, and I, who could feel the milk of human kindness curdling in my breast, swiped my stuff and headed back to the stranded motorist. I once again crawled under the truck and this time sprayed the hell out of wing bolt and spent several minutes whacking at it with the tire iron. Finally, I admitted defeat and asked the kid if he had triple A. As it would happen he did. Now some of you may be saying to yourself, why didn't he just call AAA right off the bat. I asked myself the same question, but at the same time, it is hard for me to fault anyone who is making the effort to solve a problem by themselves. Still I left feeling frustrated and as though I hadn't done enough, or had somehow failed. By this time it was too late to go to the gym and make it to work on time, so I walked to the nearest T stop and took the next train back to my neighborhood. Once home I was placing my faith in the efficacy of hot water. A hot shower would make the world right again. This was when I discovered that I had ice cold and ice cold running water. I did my best with a chilly sponge bath changed into clean clothes and went off to work.

I guess what I am wondering now is why I persist in believing in luck and fate and karma. In spite of having a run of what could be considered ill luck, what real significance does it have? It wasn't luck, it wasn't fate or karma. It was brownian motion in action. I was merely being propeled through my little part of the universe by forces of time and motion. I am not controling my life and neither is some great cosmic force. Sometimes faith in the nitrogen cycle bites down hard.