Lucky 13

Right place, right time.

I'm sure every person wonders how their lives would have been different if some opportunity didn't present itself at exactly the most opportune time. When I applied to work at The Salt Lake Tribune in 2000, I originally didn't get the job. I was commanding more money than other candidates and wasn't local -- essentially, I was more expensive to hire. I went about applying for other jobs, almost got an interview in Tucson, got calls from Las Vegas and California. Before I could act on anything, I got a call back from The Tribune. There was another opening, and they needed me in a hurry.

So if that second copy editor hadn't left, I likely wouldn't be a Utahn. We might be a Nevadans or  Californians or Wisconsinites. I might still be in newspapers. We wouldn't own the dog and cat we currently do. We just got lucky that things turned out like they did, exactly as they are now.

Right place, right time. Even our perceptions are shaped by it. Thirty-five years ago, I think on the 28th, I went with my grandparents to see Dionne Warwick at Mill Run in Niles. They volunteered as ushers at the theater in the round, mostly to see free shows, and Grandma knew I loved watching "Solid Gold." We were at a birthday party for my cousin (who is now 36 ...) and they offered to take me along. I sat on the steps with them during the show, which was the first real concert I ever attended. On the way back to my godparents' house on the cold Chicago night, Grandpa turned on WGN, which still programmed a wide variety of options. It went from news to classical, with Jack Taylor (WGN TV's news anchor back then) providing the introduction. We never listened to WGN other to hear the Cubs. I came away thinking what a unique station WGN was, but never listened much to station afterward.

Lately, if I've had trouble sleeping, I will turn on WGN on my smartphone and listen to the variety. It's not like it once was, but it's talk and somewhat unique, and something different than trying to fall asleep to ESPN Radio.

Wrong place, wrong time. The randomness goes both ways. Grandma has almost been gone a year. Mom was going to have me talk to her when she was hanging on but unconscious, particularly after the hospice nurse said she was waiting for something. Mom thought maybe she was waiting for me, and that maybe talking to me would give her the peace to let go. I found this out on Friday night; Mom was going to call in the morning. Grandma died during the night.

The right place/right time paradox goes both ways, like a lucky 13. Trying to predict how things would be better or worse is an exercise in futility. You can only deal with the present and everything that brought you to that moment. I forget that, sometimes which often leads to the sleeplessness. You can't fix what's not in your control -- especially at 1 a.m.

Spring is almost here, and that's lucky.


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