Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Brrr. Murphy's Law Strikes Again and I Beat Stephen Colbert

I believe in contingency planning. I’m a big “what if” man. Drives my family crazy. I constantly drill into them the need for redundant systems, such as the need to carry extra keys for the car or home. Just in case. 

Today, the coldest day of the year, was one of those days. For the first time in more than 25 years, I locked my car with the engine running while standing outside. No need to panic, I thought. Like the last time, I’ll simply dip my hand into my pocket and extract the just-in-case key I always carry. Only, this time there wasn’t any extra key in my pocket. 

Murphy’s Law—anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. I had just dropped off food at the apartment of one of the senior citizens I service in Yonkers. I opened the front passenger door of the Jeep to turn the motor on to heat up the car. I pushed what I thought was the button to open the other doors. Instead, before realizing I locked them, I slammed shut the passenger door. 

I won’t say I panicked, but I did express anger and disappointment with the only person who could hear me—me! I called 911. They referred me to the Yonkers Police Department. They informed they no longer made house calls for locked doors. Call a locksmith or tow truck company, they advised. I called AAA. Yes, they’d send someone. They’d put me on the “priority list” since the engine was running. Priority meant no more than an hour’s wait. Some priority—I always thought AAA has a one-hour response standard whatever is your problem.

Did I mention today was the coldest day of the year? 18 degrees at noon. Wind chill as a single digit. At least I was wearing flannel-lined jeans, earmuffs, a hat, scarf, my warmest winter jacket with hood and several layers of clothing. I tell you this because as a self-inflicted punishment I waited outdoors for most of the 45 minutes it took AAA to show up. 

When he arrived, the friendly AAA man demonstrated how easily and quickly carjackers can break into their prey. He placed a wedge between the driver’s front door and the car chassis, opening a slot sufficiently wide to insert a long probe that in my case pushed the button to roll down the electric window but just as easily could have shifted the door lock. He was there maybe 90 seconds. As I drove off to fulfill the rest of my Meals-on-Wheels deliveries, I couldn’t help but think of another life’s saying—no good deed goes unpunished.

Strike One: I’ve written about my feeling that inanimate objects have a mind of their own. For example, my company umbrella broke my last day of work. The handle hangs from the bookshelf above my desk as a reminder of inanimate articulation. 

I think the Jeep is worried its days are numbered. Yesterday, it assaulted me. The rear hatch is finicky. Sometimes it stays open, sometimes it refuses to. When the latter happens, I prop it up with a broom handle. But yesterday it was behaving when I had to unload three real estate signs. I had just placed the first one on the ground when I turned to retrieve another and was struck hard on the side of the head by the drooping hatch. Normally I would have just winced in pain, but I was reminded of a tragic, fatal accident one of my publishing competitors suffered some 10 years ago. He was returning a rental car when he somehow hit his head as he closed the trunk. Like me he thought nothing of it, but within an hour he had hemorrhaged and died. 

As you can read, I’m still around, but Tuesday’s Jeep incident was strike one, today’s strike two. I’m not interested in reaching strike three.

Colbert Bump: I think I’m entitled to a Colbert Bump for beating Stephen Colbert to the story about plans by Republicans to alter the way Electoral College votes are allocated (of course, we both got scooped by the Associated Press, but I reported on it Monday while Colbert waited till Tuesday).

Anyway, spend five minutes watching Colbert “analyze” this ploy being considered by the GOP. Here’s the link—