The cement mixer sped down Salvon Avenue. The driver had received a tip that the police had set up a speed trap on Lincoln Boulevard and, being in something of a hurry to deliver his load, he decided that he could make better time on this side street. He frequently hit red lights on Lincoln and besides, once he crossed 7th Street, he would encounter no more stop signs before reaching the construction site.
George looked at the clock on the microwave as he walked to the refrigerator. The former told him that he was on time as usual this morning, but the latter contained no orange juice. He went to the basement to bring up another jug of juice from the refrigerator down there, and noticed that his dehumidifier needed to be emptied. He hated to waste the water and so he took the catch basin around to the front porch where he watered the potted plants. While on the porch, he looked around for the paper, but discovered that it had been dropped at the end of the driveway. A mockingbird seemed to be singing at him from a tree in the front yard. He took in the paper, replaced the catch basin, drank his glass of juice, and, noticing the time on the microwave once more, jumped up with a start, and hastily left for work. He would have to speed a little to get to work on time, which shouldn’t be a problem as there was never much traffic on 7th Street. As long as he reached 7th and Salvon by 8:00, he should make it to work on time.
“I must be livin’ right!” the truck driver said to himself as he noted that traffic was indeed light on Salvon Avenue. In fact, he felt no sense of obligation to completely stop at the stop signs at 5th and 6th Streets. One more stop sign at 7th, and he was on his way.
“Traffic and weather next. It’s 8:00 and you’re listening to WCGR,” said the morning DJ.
“I’m movin’ now!” thought the truck driver as he barely slowed down through the 7th Street intersection.
* * *
George could not believe the disaster that had befallen him as he crossed 7th Street around 8:20. He had been pulled over by the same speed trap that the cement truck driver had sought to avoid.
If I hadn’t run downstairs to get more orange juice and then found the dehumidifier full . . . If I’d have just pitched the water . . . If I hadn’t bothered with the paper . . . If any one of those things hadn’t happened that cop would have been busy giving somebody else a ticket! If it weren’t for all that, I would be on time! I’d be driving through this intersection right at 8:00 instead of now!
George cursed his luck—and the orange juice and the dehumidifier and the paper boy and the ticket most of all.
George couldn’t help it. Being merely mortal, he could not see that an empty orange juice container and a full catch basin had saved him. He could not see that thirsty flowers and the paper boy had delivered another 50 years worth of days at the beach. He could not see that the speeding ticket was actually his ticket to 50 more years of football and good coffee; afternoons in a hammock and evening strolls. Actually, to be accurate, it would be another 48 years 11 months, and 12 days of such things, but mortals are funny like that. They can measure time with tremendous precision, but most haven’t learned to value it with any degree of accuracy.
The moral to this story is: The surest way to be late is to have plenty of time!
More like the surest way to have plenty of time is to occasionally be late!
A different take on Palsgraf v. Long Island RR. Nice. DBS
David, I must confess that I don’t know that case. Or was it a ballgame?
Oh my goodness, Austin! How BLIND we are! What a WONDERFUL story! It really makes one stop and think. Maybe things happen sometimes for a reason … a GOOD reason, maybe a LIFE-SAVING reason. It’s interesting that I read this today, a day when I posted on my blog regarding shifting my mental focus. POWERFUL!
Thanks, Bonnie. I’m glad that the story meant so much to you.
If only we had enough time to read about the random outcomes in the infinite number of parallel universes.
I’m sure that there are alternate us’s out there reading similar stories right now!