Life and Luck

Gary Spina

by Gary Spina
(Copyright 2011 by Gary Spina)

I don’t know about you, but I believe in luck. Sure, the harder you work the luckier you get. I know all about that. And I believe that most of luck is keeping yourself alert and ready for opportunity when it comes along. Dead wise folks have said all these things.

Still, when it comes to sports, baseball, football, golf — it’s hard not to believe that on any given day being lucky is better than being good. Maybe most athletes would tell you they’d take skill over luck – that they’d rather be good at what they do than rely on luck to get them through. Ah, see how that last sentence rhymes? I didn’t mean for it to rhyme, but I got lucky. Things like that can happen at any time. That’s how luck works. You never know.

Now, I, too, have had my share of troubles and pain. Everyone has. But I don’t care who you are – there is always someone worse off than you – someone whose cross in life is more difficult to bear than yours. Yet somehow, with the grace and goodness of God, they manage. That’s a comfort – as much a blessing to the one as a curse to the other. How many times I’ve remarked how some other poor sodbuster was suffering, and how by comparison my woes were small, and indeed, how I’m actually lucky. Seeing someone worse off puts it all in perspective.

“Ah, how wonderful,” I say to myself whenever I encounter some other who is mournfully unfortunate in looks, finances, love, or health. I can’t help but feel renewed and rejuvenated. God is indeed good.

So, what follows logically is for the person worse off than you to go out in life and find that other guy — his own guy – who’s worse off than him. Hence, we are all on a journey in life. Hence, we take comfort in knowing that the most miserable among us are the most needed, though not necessarily the most appreciated. Now, taking this to its logical depths, where does one go when one is at the very bottom of the pity pool?

I, too, was once down at the very bottom. I was broke, owed everyone. I stopped answering my telephone because it was only creditors and bill collectors who were calling. I gave up. I figured, let them take whatever I had and be done with it. So, I had the message on my answering machine give my name, social security number, bank account numbers along with the PINs, my credit card numbers and the three-digit security code on the back of the cards. I gave my date of birth and my mother’s maiden name. That’s when my luck suddenly changed for the good.

Some fool stole my identity. He got saddled with my debts. He got to serve some prison time in Wyoming for me – some silly outstanding warrant from a 1997 barroom altercation. Thanks to him, that episode is now closed out.

He ended up paying the remaining installments on an old pickup truck I dearly loved. I would not have parted with that truck for anything in the world, something the bank did not seem to understand.

The years went on and the next thing I know, I’m a famous writer. How did that happen? Well, using my identity, that same dude published a grammar book called The Mountain Man’s Field Guide to Grammar. The book really took off. He must have been disappointed when the royalty checks were mailed to me. I, on the other hand, was grateful and forgiving. I hold no grudges.

Because of that book, The Caroline Progress – the leading newspaper in Caroline County, Virginia — contracted me to do my own column, making me the living legend I am today.

What a wonderful country America is. I own my own column and keep all rights to everything I write. There was just one hitch to the writing gig. I, of course, was not a writer.

But I proved a quick study. After I turned in my first story my editor called me into his office. My story pages lay spread out on his desk.

“Did you write this?”

“Every word.”

“Is this a joke?”

“I am noted for my humor,” I said.

“By the way, how much are you guys paying me for each story?”

“Whatever it is, it’s an affront!”

“Thank you, sir,” I blushed.

I never did take compliments well.

So, the answer to bad luck – at least one answer — is simple: Just get some fool to steal your identity — maybe some hardened criminal, some iniquitous literary person, or some politician who deserves to be you more than you do.