One of the Lucky Ones

Some things in life are just pure luck, you know. Little things, like finding a dime on a sidewalk. Or, waking up thinking you’re late for work, then realizing it’s your day off. Maybe driving down a lonely country road 100 miles from nowhere before you realize your gas needle is on the E, and then coming up on a gas station around the next curve.

I spent a lot of time as a kid looking for four-leaf clovers. We had white clover growing in our yard. The fields, at one time, were full of crimson clover. I could spend hours laying on the ground in the spring raking my fingers back and forth through the grass in search of luck.

The whole “Luck of the Irish” thing goes back centuries. The Druids claimed that a four-leaf clover would fend off evil spirits and bring good fortune to the one who held it. Based on my extensive research there are about 83,972,654 three leaf clovers in your average back yard. According to statistics there should be at least 8,000 four leaf clovers in there. One in ten thousand. The statistics lie.

I did find one, one time. I flattened it out, tucked it into a small piece of folded up Blue Horse notebook paper, and slid it into my wallet right behind my Boy Scout Tenderfoot card. I carried it for several years. I was one lucky young buck. Right up until the time my wallet got stolen in high school along with my driver’s license and my picture of Susan Hightower.

That stolen wallet almost ruined my belief in luck. But how else would you explain the one time I found some serious money. We had it drilled into our heads at Callaway that “no employee should ever walk past or drive past a piece of trash on the ground without stopping to pick it up.” Bending and grabbing up gum wrappers and diapers and beer cans became like a reflex. I would embarrass my wife in the Kmart parking lot picking up trash on our way into the store.

Anyway, I’m at work and I pull into a small parking lot for some of the cottages on Mulberry Lane. I get out of my truck and turn to walk left. I tried to ignore the small piece of paper I spotted in my peripheral sight to my right. I hesitated. Aggghhhh! Turned and went to pick it up. It was a Hundred Dollar bill. I turned it in. The front desk checked with all the guests in that area. No claimants found, I was one lucky rich man that day.

Back in the 80’s I was working in landscape maintenance for a company in Atlanta. I had several office parks and complexes on the north side. Galleria. Interstate North. Cumberland Office Park. One or two downtown. AT&T Tower. Colony Square. The old Life of Georgia Building.

There was this one building at Cumberland at the end of a cul-de-sac that had a neglected area in the back. A rather large island of Riverbirch underplanted in a sea of low evergreen hollies. The trees needed limbing up and the holly needed taming. So I dove in. Carefully scooting and picking my way through the thick shrubs around my legs. I couldn’t see anything below my thighs.

I kicked something with my foot that for sure wasn’t the stump of a holly. I’m thinking trash. So, I’m just trying to work around it. Shoving it out of my way. But it’s heavy and I hear something clink a little. I bend over and dig down with my hands because I can’t squat without getting holly twigs shoved into places where holly leaves don’t belong. Groping blindly, I feel something solid. Flip it around. I find a handle on it and pull it up into the world above.

It’s a leather case that has seen better days. It’s molded a little. Crawling with ants. But it’s not bad for having been buried under the bushes for who knows how long. And I can tell this is a quality piece of work I’m holding. I flip the brass latch and open the top. I have discovered a case full of really nice Yashica camera lenses. Telephoto. Portrait. Wide angle. Fish-Eye. Lots of filters and gadgets. But no camera. I bought a 35mm camera, a new case and over the years took hundreds of great pictures. I wish 35mm was still a thing.

My luck went cold for a long time. Then one year I bought a raffle ticket marked by Lady Luck. I have bought a lot of raffle tickets in my time. Trying to help kids and groups and civic organizations raise money for some good cause. None of those tickets had ever paid off for me. I know a guy in Opelika who wins on nearly every raffle ticket he buys. John Deere Gators. 12 gauge shot guns. A bass boat. I’m thinking he found the original four leaf clover when he was kid and still has it.

I went to a PTA meeting at the Junior High School. I huffed about having to go, like any red-blooded husband. But the band was playing, and our daughter would be on stage. When we walked in the door to the cafeteria, a table was set up to sell raffle tickets for yet another Jr. High cause. Probably to put new uniforms on 80 lb. kids with shoulder pads. But the prize was a Honda Four-Wheeler. Tickets were a dollar.

“You can buy as many as you want. Would you like 20 tickets? It’ll improve your chances of winning.”

This kid is working me over, but he doesn’t know how unlucky I am with raffles. “I’ll take one please.” I feel guilty I was so cheap, but a twenty-dollar bill was big deal back then.

Later that evening, I’m sitting on the couch and the phone rings. It’s Mr. Arnold Jackson, the principal at the Jr. High. Why in the world is he calling me at this hour? “I’ve called to tell you that you are the winner of the raffle for the Honda Four-Wheeler. We pulled your number. What do you think about that?”

You could have knocked me over with a feather. We got about a good year’s worth of riding and fun out that thing. Then one night, some low life cut the chain on the gate at the farm and stole my ride. I thought about my wallet and my four-leaf clover. I thought about how things balance out. Sometimes it seems like for every stroke of luck there is an equal and opposite stroke of bad luck.

Some people say there’s no such thing as luck. Life is all circumstantial. It’s just about being in the right place at the right time. Some call it karma. Some call it fate. Some call it the hand of God. Some just call it blessed.

I still think I’m one lucky son of a gun. The jobs I’ve had. The friends I’ve made. The wife and family that surround me. I think God’s hand is in everything. I think hardships and blessings both abound. I think hope is better than despair. I think that baseball is the greatest game ever played. I think that playing music matters. I think that hugs from little arms make life better. I think that good things come to those who wait.

Good luck this Christmas. And take a few minutes to look for four-leaf clovers when you have the time.

2 thoughts on “One of the Lucky Ones

  1. Some “Luck” over the years, for sure! $100 Bill, camera lenses, and a four wheeler!! Wow!! But you said it all in…Baseball is the greatest game ever!! Good Luck Paul!!


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