Life, by Chance (UG)

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I admit that sometimes I feel tempted to give in to that desire. To that desire, that wish to believe that the world makes sense, that things happen for a reason. Sometimes I yearn for just a minute of peaceful faith that cause and effect are more than just the inevitable consequences of freak chances, of coincidence.

I know better, of course.

Philip Anderson, 32, was unlucky. His girl cheated on him and he found out. By chance, he found out. It took a nervous breakdown of his colleague and the subsequent devastation of his cubicle at work for him to come home early for the first time in seven years. He could have gone to do some shopping. He could have gone to have the brakes of his car fixed. Yet he chose to go home. Only to find his girl in bed with some man he had never met before and had no intention of ever meeting again. Being a man of passion and strength, Philip did what was to save my life, in the long run – he drove to the next best bar and got drunk.

David Steadman, 56, was unlucky. His job demanded him to be in three different downs at virtually the same time, and after a day of driving a rented car, he felt exhausted and sleepy. David was thought of highly by those who asked for his advice, and he was always willing to give it. He had found out long ago that people would often turn to him for help and he could not turn them down; he could not help it. It was harder for him to accept that he, too, needed help from time to time. Asking for it was difficult, however, and he would rather try to find a solution on his own. That day, he had gotten himself completely lost in a town that looked exactly like the two he had been in before. He had phoned his wife to tell her he would not come home tonight and was now desperately looking for a hotel to stay overnight.

Yvonne Bouchard, 19, was unlucky. She missed her friends from back home, she missed Paris, and she regretted her choice to come to this godforsaken place to be an au-pair girl. She disliked Sheryl, who treated her like a slave; she abhorred Tom, who liked to come into the bathroom and pretend to shave while she was taking a shower; she hated little Tyler, who insisted on having Chocolate Fudge covered ice cream with whipped cream and pistachios at ten at night and who would then complain about a bad stomach and bad dreams.

I was lucky. I lived.

At 23:15, Philip had drunken up enough courage and anger to face his girl. Nineteen minutes later he was in his car. He did not start driving immediately. For a few minutes he just sat there, staring at the darkness ahead, listening to the radio. If it had not played REM at that time, things would be different now. But REM it played and Philip waited to listen to the song. Then he took off.

Yvonne was taking a walk in the streets. At 23:31 her room had become too small for her to breathe, and she needed fresh air.

David was still lost. He was driving in circles to find the hotel he had finally managed to book a room in over the phone.

It was 23:42, precisely, when Philip turned onto Carlsen Ave, swerving over to the left side of the street. David was jerked awake from his trance-like state by two headlights coming at him, no more than just a few meters away. He remembered the lady from the car rental service smiling and saying, 'Now, be good to our Chevy here,' as he swung the steering wheel to avoid the collision. He hit Yvonne, instead, who had just made up her mind to quit the job.

Philip got a couple of years on probation.

David got depressed and needed help from a psychiatrist.

Yvonne got killed.

I got her kidney. I lived.

I admit that sometimes I feel tempted to believe things make sense. I feel tempted to give in to the desire to believe that things happen for a reason, that people get what they deserve.

I know better, of course.

But sometimes I ask myself, what if? What if Philip's colleague had not had that breakdown? Or what if Yvonne had liked her family? Or what if the radio had played Garth Brooks? What if and what if not. David could have stopped and asked for directions. Philip could have had a different girl, altogether. Yvonne could have gone to Philadelphia. I could have died.

Every now and then, my friends watch the news on TV and shake their heads. Why this war, why that catastrophe, this is not fair, that does not make sense.

I know, of course.

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