I'm minding my own business (for a change), eating lunch in a deli, when I hear the phrase that chills my blood coming from a nearby booth: "Everything happens for a reason."
Oh, boy. Here we go again. First, I don't believe it, and I think it's a cop out for the absurd things that happen to us, which we have no clue why they ever occurred in the first place. In my humble opinion, some stuff just happens because of dumb circumstances.
Case in point: This summer, I was playing golf with a friend, enjoying a fine round on a beautiful summer day at a private course. The friend, who was driving the golf cart, got out to hit a shot and suggested that I drive it up the hill and he would catch up at the green.
Cool. ... What could make more sense? Until I started up the hill. To get a clear picture, you must understand that I was sitting on the passenger side and steering. Don't ask why -- perhaps no other reason than I was too lazy to slide behind the wheel. Nonetheless, I was feeling quite in control and confident at the wheel.
As I reached the top of the hill, I entered a turnaround lined with beautiful Belgium blocks and flowers. Nothing prettier than a manicured golf course.
Heading into the turnaround, I realize that I'm driving a bit fast and reach for the brake as I take the turn. I've always been a careful driver of cars, motorcycles, golf carts and any other species of motor vehicles.
This time, however, as I reach for the brake with my stubby, little legs, a golf cleat catches on the gas and sends the cart, with me in it, plunging over the blocks and the assorted plantings.
As cool as a fighter pilot traveling at the speed of sound, I reach for the brake again while muttering a few select curse words that I reserve for just such an occasion. Believe it or not, I accidentally hit the gas -- again.
The cart plows forward some more, flattening the ball washer sticking out of the ground. But I'm not done yet. Next to the ball washer stands a garbage can, rimmed with an attractive picket fence that I also crash into, sending assorted garbage -- cups, bottles, cans, and napkins -- flying into the air.
I finally come to a stop, and I'm totally embarrassed, checking around for who might be watching. I'm only about 200 yards from the clubhouse, so I imagine that a dining room and bar full of people are pointing at me and rolling on the ground.
When my friend reaches the green, his mouth falls open in disbelief. With his help, we replant the ballwasher, tidy up the garbage, and reposition the Belgium blocks as I try to ease the cart back onto the cartpath.
Unfortunately, a hunk of picket fence wedged under the cart chassis makes a grinding noise like a small backhoe rumbling over a construction site. Is there no end to this senseless scenario?
I floor the pedal, finally freeing the cart from the pickets that are now askew. As quickly as I can, I set them back around the can like a landscaper. The pickets are leaning at a drunken angle, but hey, it's good enough. At this point, I just want to escape.
Later, we have a good laugh and every time my friend gets out of the cart, I warn him not to leave me alone with this motor vehicle, which might be possessed.
So riddle me this, believers that everything happens for a reason: What the heck did that golf-cart-from-hell episode mean? It was pointless dumb misfortune and clumsiness. Nothing more, nothing less.
But those who believe everything happens for a reason argue that the universe operates in strange ways that we can't fathom. That I agree with. But come on, this was just plain stuff. And let's not even talk about the more frightening occurrences, such as car accidents, planes crashing and meteorites falling out of the sky and plunging through the roof of a house.
I cited just one silly episode, but I've had dozens of other random scenarios throughout my life that leave me scratching my head and asking why.
For instance, I was dressed in a suit, headed to Christmas party. I parked my car some distance from the restaurant where the festivities were going on and started strolling down the street.
It was a crisp early winter night. I was enjoying the full bright moon glowing through the canopy of trees overhanging the sidewalk. I was feeling the holiday spirit pulse through me, anticipating the friends I would enjoy the evening with when I felt something plop on the side of my head and on my shoulder that stopped me in my tracks.
At first I thought it was beginning to snow, but as I touched my hair with my fingers, I discovered it was bird doo doo falling from the sky. I was stunned. My holiday spirit was dissolving in a hurry. I looked up into the sky and wondered why me, and why now? Was there a reason for this, too? Then I quickly looked down in case I was supposed to get plopped on the head twice for some specific reason that I'll never fathom.
Frank Szivos is a freelance writer who is prepared for his next random occurrence. He can be reached at email@example.com.