“After bad luck comes good fortune.”—Gypsy Proverb
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One of the morning coffee club drinkers extended wishes for luck and good fortune in 2020 last week and was promptly met with, “Well, I hope my luck brings more good fortune in 2020 because my 2019 was a wreck.”
Another of the caffeine consuming consultant’s club offered as how maybe this could be the respondent’s lucky year. “Good fortune often follows unfavorable circumstances, you know.”
Those words still lingered a few days later as I read Larry Edsall’s column on ClassicCars.com about the death of Bill Simpson, a racer whose safety innovations, including helmets for racers and riders add an extra layer of luck for protection. Edsall wrote, “Raise your hand if Bill Simpson saved your life or limb or, like me, perhaps your noggin.”
I subconsciously raised my hand remembering a night some years ago that if good fortune was ever present in unfavorable circumstances for me, it had to be when a motorcycle and I parted company on an open stretch of four-lane highway. More than luck was with me that night when I body surfed a lengthy stretch of pavement with my noggin and shoulder.
The late-night trip on U.S. 67 from The Monitor, the newspaper where I worked in Naples, to home in Mount Pleasant was one I made daily. That night’s trip was almost completed when the bike’s rear tire abruptly abandoned its air at around 70 miles-per-hour producing violent swerving that projected me over the handlebars in the process.
After meeting the pavement head-on, literally, I still remember wishing my forward travel would slow down enough for the rest of my body to rejoin earth and hopefully end the trail my upper body was blazing across the asphalt.
My guardian angel was already dispensing favors of good fortune into my night’s unfavorable circumstances when that prayer was answered. I stopped sliding, but the motorcycle that was still tumbling my direction miraculously stopped just short of our reunion. I stood up slowly and looked around in the middle of a dark four-lane highway where I could see no cars in either direction before realizing the full extent of good fortune that was allowing me to do so. A quick inventory of body parts revealed that I had not only survived but did so miraculously without gaping holes or missing limbs.
Reaching up to remove the helmet from my head for which I was gaining appreciation for still having was a sobering enlightenment. Most of the outer shell on the right side was mangled or missing, ground completely through to the padded lining in some places.
Lights at the H. E. Spann concrete company atop the next hill offered hope that help was near. Efforts to lift the beat up bike and push it along with me were quickly abandoned after noticing my right shoulder and oddly positioned arm didn’t work very well.
“Don’t move. I’ll take you to the emergency room,” said James Spann who was finishing a late-night concrete pour when I hobbled up a few minutes later. Funny, I really didn’t feel too bad until I saw the look in his eyes. Family doctor Lee McKellar assessed the damage. “You’re lucky, nothing broken, but everything in your shoulder is separated. The orthopedic surgeon in Paris can fix it and you will be fine,” he assured me.
Over decades of riding from Texas to Colorado, Florida and through the Smokies, I relied on Simpson, Bell and other top-quality “skid lids” as we called them. For a long time, I saved what was left of the one that skidded with me down a dark highway one night saving my noggin and likely my life in a plethora of good fortune amidst really unfavorable circumstances. Sitting right beside its brand-new replacement, it was my reminder should I ever be tempted to take a “quick ride” without one.
The helmet got away somewhere over the years, but one reminder of good fortune coming with unfavorable circumstances remains today. Medical choices offered the next morning by the surgeon (and would-be comedian) were surgery and screws or a harness holding everything together for healing with one caveat: healing would be longer with the harness and my collarbone would leave me with a small protrusion on my shoulder whereas screws offered a more cosmetically correct repair. “The downside,” he added with a smile, “is that it will show if you ever decide to wear strapless evening gowns.”
He was right. I still proudly bear the protrusion, but that’s OK. I survived unfavorable circumstances one night when good fortune via my overworked guardian angel allowed me to hang around for many more new year’s wishes to come…with the added good fortune of never having to face wearing a strapless evening gown.
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