Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

January 8th, 2002 · No Comments · Uncategorized

I think I’m paranoid

I’m not a worrier. To me, worrying is like saving money. It’s something that consumes a lot of effort in the present because of something that may happen in the future, but often there’s no actual benefit.

For people who manage their lives better than me, that analogy will make no sense. But if you think about it, what’s better: dying with money in the bank, or dying with a big debt?

If I am crossing the street tonight and rogue bus mows me down, as I lay dying in filthy road because an ambulance can’t get to me fast enough because of evening traffic, you can rest assured I am not going to think: “I wish I had paid off all my credit card debt and had a nice balance in my savings account.” I am also not going to think “I wish I had spent more time by myself in front of a computer,” but that’s another post. What I may think is “Good thing I scammed myself another Visa so I could take that trip to Prague while I could.”

So I don’t worry. If something bad is going to happen, I’ll deal with it when it does. That doesn’t mean I totally neglect the idea of planning, but I’ll be honest, I’m bad at planning. The theory of planning is good, but my execution is piss poor. I call this “in the moment living”, but most of the people around me call it “being a real pain in the ass,” but they are just bitter people who worry and save money, which I occasionally borrow.

Even with this devil-may-care attitude, I have to admit my imagination, a vivid and often hard to manage piece of my psyche, has taken a turn to the more morbid in these dark times. The shadow of my own mortality looms a wee bit larger than before the Day the Things Fell Out of the Sky.

It was this imagination this morning that became fired up when I smelled a rather strong and unpleasant chemical odor in the subway station this morning. The stink was unusual, acrid and overpowering. Luckily I didn’t encounter it until the train was pulling in, and I got on the car quickly, trying not to breathe much or deeply, and wishing the doors would close in a hurry.

I start to wonder: poison gas? Imagine that! Perhaps people around me will start retching and falling dead to the ground. This could be my last five minutes of life! On the stupid subway, of all places. How awful.

Of course, it’s not poison gas. The smell subsides. No one dies. Silly me.

I get out one stop later, feeling pretty paranoid and stupid. There’s that smell again. I look around. A thick cloud of smoke is billowing from the front of the car I just left. Something is burning at the head of the car. My very first, in my face, subway car fire.

There is a temptation, when a dramatic, unusual event occurs in front of our eyes, to watch it unfold. Then there is the smarter part, which says “go far away from this.” After seeing the conductor of the train get out and observe the smoke issuing forth, I knew I had no responsibility save that of getting out quickly. Which I did. Without incident.

And then on to the next train and the rest of the day. No worries.

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