We always like to believe that when faced with adversity or difficult circumstances we will arm ourselves against such troubles with reason, calm, understanding, and other defenses to cope with the inevitable problems we may encounter in life. However, for many us, when the opportunity presents itself, we tend to fall short of our resolutions. So when I observed my friend, whom I will call M, experience a quite unfortunate day the other month, I was rather impressed to see him remain relatively unaffected, and respond to everything rationally.
It was a Saturday morning, the day we had agreed to play a round of disc golf – a game which neither of us could boast much experience with, but decided to do for fun. We scheduled to meet around noon at his place, to collect his discs, and head to the park from there. But before the hour was close to approaching, while I was busying myself at home with chores, I received a text message from M informing me that he had just received an eviction notice, from his apartment, for his dogs. They had to be gone in seventy-two hours. I got back to him soon after with my apologies and asked if he still wanted to play. He said he did. At the time, though a sad situation, I didn’t think much of it because I had assumed that nearby relatives would be able to provide for them (which I later found out was not true).
Anyway, by 12:00, I was at his apartment waiting on the landing. Before long the door swung open, we clapped our hands together and embraced. After the preliminary exchange of greetings and comments, I once again expressed my consolation for the eviction notice and asked what happened. While I will spare the reader of these convoluted and unimportant details, it was from this explanation that though I learned that he did have a temporary home for them with family, it would only be for a couple of weeks. I was sorry to hear that he would have to bear the anxiety, and possibly financial burdens, of having to rectify the situation. No matter, whatever the case would be, it was apparent that he was not going to let it bother him too much, but focus instead on the present. Now to get his discs. After a few good searches around his apartment did not reveal them, we had recourse to Big 5 where we purchased a couple. And it was at this point that these complications gave rise in me the vague premonition that the rest of the day would continue in this fashion…
At last we made it to the park and commenced to play. The sun was shining, the sky was clear, and there were other park-goers about enjoying the fair weather. M and I got started. M showed his skills on the first round and won by a decent margin. I had deceived myself when I thought he had only played just once or twice before like I had. So now I knew I had to seize my opportunity at redemption. By round two I proved myself and entertained a nail-biter of a game. On the last couple of holes I took the leading score and just barely beat him. Having felt satisfied with our first foray together into disc golf, and having passed over an hour, we called it here and made our way back to the car. But before we could walk ten paces, however, M groping in his pocket, turned to me and said he didn’t have his wallet. I couldn’t believe it. Yet another obstacle that had befallen us! M said he would check his car and cover the far side of the course and that I could search in the other direction. We set to work.
After numerous laps around the grass, scouring around, M deemed it lost. Oddly enough, I was becoming more perturbed by everything that was happening than M was, and asked him if he wasn’t sure we should look again. No, he was sure it wasn’t lying around. He proceeded to ask some of the people sitting on the benches around the course if they had seen it. No one had. He left his phone number with some of them and we took off. M still maintaining his composure told me he had his credit, debit, EBT, and social security cards, as well as his driver’s license, and a few other important things in his wallet. This whole time M did not show any signs of being flustered or upset but instead focused his energy into figuring out what could’ve happened. Finally he suggested we circle back to Big 5 to see if he had left it there. After waiting for fifteen minutes or so for one of the shop employees to review the camera footage, as luck would have it, they came back to inform us that the camera malfunctioned and had not record anything the whole day. We both glanced at each other and tacitly expressed our disbelief at the turn of events. M just shook his head and, in good humor, asked, ‘what did I do?’
In an effort to help make things a bit better, I offered to get us some snacks and drinks that we could take back to the park to take the edge off things. We went over to Safeway and I got a random assemblage of food items while M sat in the car canceling his cards. At the park again, we partook in a little feast, and had a laugh over the absurdity of the day. But it wasn’t enough that the bad luck should stop here. When we repaired to the car to end it all, as M turned the key in the ignition, the engine wouldn’t start. He said nothing at first then gave it another go. When nothing happened again the second time, a slight smile broke across his face, and he uttered, ‘You’re kidding me. This is the cherry on top.’ Luckily for us, though, I lived only a few blocks away, so we ambled back to my place and I drove him home. On the way back M continued joshing saying, ‘I feel like this day could be the inspiration for a country song!’ When we reached his apartment, parting, we shook hands and he thanked me for what turned out to be, in spite of all its craziness, a pretty fun day. I expressed the same sentiment and I went back home.
Now that some time has passed since this all happened, M has gotten his car fixed, come to an agreement with his apartment complex allowing his dogs to stay with him, and also has succeeded in locating his collection of disc golf discs. Other than just a strange anecdote, or a story for the books, M’s behavior on this day taught me to take the good with the bad, remain calm and pragmatic – and just as important – to keep a sense of humor when misfortune assails us. This may be especially crucial when we are experiencing even more trying incidents like illness, death, or hate. I remind myself of this everyday knowing that bad days like this can happen to us all, and that we can make them that much better if we exercise self-control.