There is a guy going making the rounds in storytelling circles. He had a horrible thing happen to him; he was attacked and stabbed during a gang initiation in New York City.
Thing is, he had just started doing some really cool stuff, he’d been working to start a business, and was making it happen when
He got jumped. And stabbed. And in a hospital and not gonna live. Then he did live and had all the terrible things happen when you cannot take care of yourself. He had a heaping pile of bad luck, on top of trying to come to terms with living in a world that can unexpectedly try to kill you.
At a very dark moment, he sat in the park and watched a man in a beautiful suit and briefcase walk by. He saw that man, and had to use all his self-control not to run after him, beat the crap out of him and tell him “YOU THINK YOU HAVE ALL YOU HAVE BECAUSE YOU ARE GOOD. YOU ONLY HAVE WHAT YOU HAVE BECAUSE YOU ARE LUCKY!”
I got a chance to volunteer for career day at a south central elementary school. A dynamite woman, a friend of mine, is the principal at this school, and she asked for people to come and tell her students what their jobs are like.
The school is surrounded by steel bars—painted yellow to be more cheery. But they are almost three stories tall, to protect the children. The children were very cute, so earnest and just like kids everywhere. They asked me questions, and my biggest regret was that I hadn’t prepared better.
We were given snacks in the library, between our sessions. I met the other volunteers. There were people from Caltrans, road workers in hard hats. There was a lot of law enforcement. And a criminal defense attorney.
The principal said to me “They probably have not heard about your kind of work before.”
Really? My super ordinary IT tech work? Graduate from ITT tech and keep computers running?
I overheard her talking with the defense attorney, who said, “I asked the kids if they knew of anybody who was in a gang. They all raised their hands.”
My friend said, “If I could make all the gangs go away right now I would.” Her face was steely and so ready to defend her students. But she could not. She was already doing what she could.
It’s an unlucky day to be born into that neighborhood. It’s a bit of bad luck to have to go to that school, with the bravely painted concrete walls and carefully swept asphalt yard.
30 miles away, my town prides itself on grassy playgrounds, yawning luxurious trees, SAT scores and college acceptance. My lucky daughter gets her pick.
I told these kids, in the steel barred school that I hadn’t expected to have the career that I did. That I didn’t know about videoconferencing and computer networking when I was their age. What I did know was that I loved reading and finding things out.
So when I had the chance to learn about this technology, I read, and I learned and I am still reading and learning. They listened.
Life is full of good luck and bad luck. It’s full of chances. Lord knows, I didn’t have to end up in my town of trees and PhDs. Plenty of people from my town are on government support.
I don’t know what’s going to happen for those kids. I feel for them. But to be real, I don’t know what’s going to happen for any of us.
Luck doesn’t always come, and it isn’t always good. But I can try to be good. I can try, and keep trying.
And I can fall, feel sorry for myself, and then get up and keep trying again. Because that’s life. I can’t wait for the luck.