Consider Yourself Lucky

For the most part, when an outcome is uncertain, I generally expect to make out okay. Not fantastically well, mind you -- I don't roll out of bed looking for fresh-picked roses on my nightstand, or buy powerball tickets or anything, but for stuff like ordering a meal in a restaurant, I'm optimistic. I'm not the type to presume my sandwich will taste bad, or that I'll choke on a pretzel or something. If we draw names at work for parking spots, I figure I'll get a decent one. When I picture traffic backed up, I picture myself observing it as I drive past on the other side of the road, not sitting stuck in it.

So I haven't really known what to make of a few events that have taken place recently. For starters I lost my iPod. I kept expecting to find it somewhere in the car or the apartment -- I *know* I saw it around here somewhere -- but it just wouldn't turn up. Days went by, then a couple weeks, until I heard myself describing to my friend back home: "Yeah, things are really nice here ... yep, move went smoothly. I think the only thing I lost was my iPod, which sucks, but I'm sure I'll find it."

And, what do you know? Last week, I found it. Sure enough. Even better, it had a song on it that I'd thought I lost. So the next morning I brought it into work, hooked up the new little cable I'd ordered a few weeks ago and transferred the song to my computer. I left it connected so it could charge while I went to a meeting.

When I came back, the iPod had shut itself off. Apparently that new cable doesn't charge it. So it turned out that the battery going dead before I'd officially disconnected the iPod corrupted the data on there, and... yeah. No more music for Colin. At least I got that one song.

My only option was to reset it - wipe it clean, essentially - and lose the four thousand or so songs I had on there, about three years' worth. I mulled it over that evening.

In the morning, though, I realized I was pretty sick of those playlists anyway, and I have a lot of stuff backed up on another drive, and... well, what choice do I have? So I reset it. Not what I'd preferred, but hey - two days ago I couldn't find the thing at all, and at least now I have a nice clean slate. Whatever.


The transmission news was harder to take. My ancient, beastly and ill-advised V8 Volvo had been refusing to shift out of Drive -- or 2nd gear even -- so I had it towed to a shop to (ideally) hear that it was just a problem with the linkage, or the handle or something. I couldn't just leave it sitting in my brother and sister-in-laws' side yard, after all.

It wasn't just the linkage. Jerry, from Pit Stop Automotive in Beaufort, called the following Monday morning to tell me "that thing's gonna have to come out for a rebuild." Bad things happened in that transmission, somehow, and for reasons I can't fathom it basically welded itself together in about 5,000 miles. "$930 or so," said Jerry.

"____," said Colin.

It's not the money, you see -- well, it's *kind of* the money, but not *that* money -- not the 930. It's all the rest of the ill-advised funds I've sunk into that ill-advised car over the last seven years, and how up the creek I was at the moment I heard from Jerry from Pit Stop. I could save the nine hundred and write off the rest, or spend it and hope to sell the car once it's shifting again. Either way, I lose.

But what are you gonna do? I made a bad choice when I was twenty years old; I read a Car and Driver article about V8 Volvos and how much Paul Newman likes his, and I got myself a bank loan. Live and learn.

When I walked up to my apartment Monday evening, though, coming home late after a longish day at work and noticing I didn't see my motorcycle sitting in its space, that hurt.

At first I thought maybe I'd misplaced it, or it had been towed by the apartment complex. I *hoped* it had been towed by the apartment complex. What actually happened, though, is that someone saw my motorcycle sitting in that lot every day for the last month - it was one month exactly since our move-in date - and decided to steal it.

The "if-only"s are irritating: if only I'd locked it to something (but what?), if only I hadn't parked next to that big, view-blocking panel van, if only I'd rented a garage from the apartment people ... if only I had theft coverage on my insurance policy.

But what really hurts isn't the regret. It's knowing how I'll feel from now on, every time there's a sunny day, every time I open the closet and see my helmet, every time I get a motorcycle magazine in the mail like I did the very day it was stolen.

I just never thought anyone would take my bike. It wasn't a Harley or a BMW, or a gleaming sportbike or anything. It was a big green Kawasaki dirtbike with skull stickers on it. It was mine, and so *me* that I can't even imagine someone else sitting on it. I really, really liked that motorcycle.

But I'll get another one, probably in the spring. I'll try and sell the Volvo and that'll pay for it. Whatever.

It's replaceable. That's what I told Penny, while she stood in the empty parking space and cursed the entire neighborhood at the top of her lungs. I should have locked it and now it's gone, but it's just a machine. Nothing happened to her or to Vince, and having had a few days to think about it I can honestly say I took it harder when the power company chopped down all my pine trees a few years ago.

It'll be okay. I'll be okay. And that's really what it comes down to, I think -- that belief. That expectation of okayness, that faith that despite all this, despite whatever, we're good. We'll be fine.

Our house will sell, I'll get a new bike, we'll move out of this apartment that once seemed pretty nice but now seems vaguely sinister, and we'll be fine.

I think you have to consider yourself lucky, no matter what happens. That's what hope is, for me at least.


Besides, I've had a good week at work. I didn't know if I could have even a decent week after Monday night, but it's been pretty okay. My boss said she loved something I wrote this afternoon, and tomorrow I'm going to Charlotte to record some radio commercials I wrote, and I'm liking how this blog is turning out, even though it's pretty long.

I'm not trying to say all this to sound like some kind of motivational poster... I'm probably one of the least motivational people you know. I'm just... trying to learn from this.

People go through much worse things than car trouble, or computers crashing, or stolen bikes, and I really hope this advice still applies -- the part about considering yourself lucky. It takes some forcing, even in my case -- you really don't feel lucky at all when you're stunned and sad and ashamed to be a victim -- but I think it's worth talking yourself into it.

And I *am* lucky. My mom just called to talk, and I'll call her back as soon as I post this, and my dog is waiting for me at home, and I'll go to dinner with Lope, and none of the things that really matter have really gone anywhere.

I feel fortunate to have enough money to be able to say "it's only money." I hope I don't sound like a jerk for saying that. I feel fortunate to have friends and family to listen to my misfortunes and sympathize. I feel fortunate that my misfortunes are minor enough that I can still have a little perspective on them. I feel fortunate to have lost something I wasn't prepared to lose and still made it out okay.

I feel fortunate to still expect to be okay.

I consider myself lucky; I really do.

But I'd better never find the people who took my bike.


Thomas said...

The dudes that stole your bike will eventually get caught, either for your case or a future one, and will hate it while bubba pumps them full of man-sausage in the exhaust pipe. You just make sure you don't quit doing the right things. I heard karma comes around. Bad turns good, good turns bad. A free bike for him will turn into some very very bad blindness...

Thomas said...

Or maybe he'll ride that bike down a road that you might have been on with your super-suit and get hit head-on.

Thomas said...

Oh yeah, and Ipod's fail often. My mini's been dead three times now. CD back-ups are the way to go.

Goddess of Leonie said...

just wanted to high five you for this post.

yeah, we're all gunna be okay.


Rach:) said...

Hey Col - look at it this way - my tranny went out in my Bug at the beginning of Sept. I just got her back a couple weeks ago - one reman tranny later at the cool price of $3,700 (and that was only for the transmission). So while I understand your woes of the misguided endeavor - know that you're not alone in your strife!

Anonymous said...

That totally sucks about your bike, and for that I am certainly sorry. But I am also completely buoyed by your spirit. You ARE lucky and so am I, in no small part because of you and Lopie. Just knowing there are people like the two of you out there makes me feel all four leafed and shamrocky and stuff. Also sinfully rich, freshly baked, cinnamon scented, and sugary with icing.

with much adoration and baked goodness, wee xo

meghan said...

Excellent post, excellent point of view.

I'm continually inspired after reading this blog.

Sorry about your bike though...

jake said...

You can borrow my scooter anytime!

Anonymous said...

So sorry to hear about all the icky stuff that has been happening. I guess it can only get better from here? It has to. You have your health, a new job, Penelope & your fur children. A roof over your heads and a clean slate for new music! A fresh start- brand new playlists, new music that you have never listened to, old music that you love. It can be good.

I don't wish anything bad to happen to the bike-stealer because I don't believe in ill-wishes. But I do hope he learns a lesson of his own from this. And I will keep an eye out for a big green bike adorned with skulls.

BTW- your transmission price sounds like a good deal. I had my transmission rebuilt this summer and it was much more than that. So consider yourself lucky in that aspect!

You are full of grace.

Sharon said...

What a writer...you inspire the postive in all....Don't forget the weather smiles though...its rainy and cold here. we've seen snow already and although it didn't stick...it will see you soon!!!!