johnmac's rants

Monday, June 08, 2009


It has been pointed out by a number of folks that I was extremely lucky to receive only minor injury (and damage to my motorscooter) in the recent accident in which I was hit by a car at the top of an entrance ramp on New York's Sprain Brook Parkway. These folks are, of course, correct -- I was very lucky.

The mention of "luck" caused me to reflect on the role of luck (or fate) in my life. I have been generally lucky -- perhaps "blessed" would be a better word. I was born in America to loving parents -- although my father died when I was eleven, I had a good childhood and have been very fortunate to have formed lifetime friendships. I have always had work that I enjoyed -- computer programming, management of Information Technology departments, journalism, writing for publication, consulting, teaching, and now poetry; I have been married, first for 14 years, to a terrific person and, then, to a wonderful woman, the love of my life, Barbara McMullen, for the last 31 years. I have been blessed with terrific and successful children and Barbara and I are generally good health (I have lost friends to cancer and accident). So generally, I havd been lucky.

There have, in the course, of my life, been three specific instances, all involving automobiles, that would certainly be classified as extreme luck:

1. When I was 15, I accompanied a close friend, the late Bob Cummings and his father to Lake Ronkonkoma, where they had a summer home to bring some things back to our NYC neighborhood. During the day, Mr. Cummings became ill and called a doctor in NYC to explain his problems; the doctor said that he would stay in his office until 5:30PM in the event that Mr. Cummings could be there by then. Mr. Cumminigs got us in the car and drove at very high speeds for over an hour to get to the doctor's office. The doctor examined him, gave him a prescription, and sent him (and us) on our way. After a ride of about 20 minutes to our neighborhood, Mr. Cummings parked the car, let us out, and died before he made it up to his apartment. It was terrible for Bob and his family (a mother, brother, and a sister) but would have been much worse for Bob and I had he died an our earlier when we were going 70 on the Northern State Parkway.

2. In 2003, a large truck ran a stop sign on a hill, smacked into the side of my Lincoln, knocking it 10-15 feet up on a curb. The truck then took off, a "hit and run", leaving me trapped in the car (the engine went off on impact and the electric door locks were inoperable). Firemen told me later that I was very lucky that the car didn't burst into flames when the gas tank went up on the curb. I got out of the car -- which was totaled -- and walked away uninjured (the truck driver was never caught)

3. Last Tuesday, June 2, 2009, I had the motor scooter accident described above and walked away with skinned knees, torn pants, and $1,700 of damage to my wonderful "Black Beauty" (a Honda 259cc Helix -- Barbara has a canary yellow one) -- once again, very lucky.

So, that's three near-misses -- and I ask "why?" Why was I so lucky when Bill McLoughlin was killed in a motor accident? is there a plan? What, if anything, must I do to justify my continued existence? Heavy stuff.


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