Fingers, Luck and Farmers

I still maintain that cutting off the tip of my left ring finger was the best luck I've had all year!

Luck.  Just what precisely is it? There are those who would posit that one makes one's own luck.  I've never been able to sign off on that one.   Harking back to the Chinese proverb about the farmer and his horse, the judgement of good or bad luck surely is in the eye of the beholder.

To wit:

A young Chinese farmer has but one horse and through no fault of his own, the horse runs  away.  "Such bad luck," his neighbors lament. But three weeks later the horse returns bringing four wild horses with it.  Now the farmer has five horses!   "What good luck," his neighbors cheer!   The farmer must of course, break the wild horses and while doing so, falls and breaks his leg!  "What bad luck" his neighbors cry.   But the next week a Barbarian hoard comes through recruiting conscripts for their army - with a broken leg, the young farmer is left behind and is thus saved from certain death fighting on the front lines of the Barbarian army.

Last week I was working on one of the houses I own.  It's a small brick home built in the mid 19th century that I purchased in 2007.  At that time, I had just sold a rental property I owned because the tenant loved it so much she made me an offer I couldn't refuse!   What good luck!  Once sold, I was approached by a woman whom I knew from the local cafe.  She had a sister who was a realtor. The realtor sister told me that if I bought a house within 3 months I could avoid capital gains tax by doing what is called an IRS “1031Exchange”.  A 1031Exchange is a slick but legal accounting maneuver in which one more or less swaps one rental property for another and defers the taxes.  More good luck!   I looked and looked for another rental I could restore. As time ran out the realtor showed me this very house that had been already “beautifully restored”!  (note the quotations). Ordinarily I prefer doing the restoration myself but had had the good luck of being so extremely busy with my other full time job as a commercial filmmaker that not getting bogged down in a construction project seemed like an attractive idea. There were only three weeks left to take advantage of the 1031!  So I decided to buy the house.

Unfortunately the realtor lied.  The 1031 was not an option.  Though this was bad faith on her part,  in my estimation, however, it was not really bad luck. Contrarily,  I simply was the victim of having the good luck of so much film work, that I had no time to do my due diligence and find out what a 1031 was!   If I had I would have realized that she was blowing so much smoke up my ass that my ears were farting smoke.

And as it turned out, it was a sort of double whammy of nefariousness. The restoration of the building itself was a mirage of duct tape and deceit. The people selling the building had only pretended to restore it. They had made no effort what-so-ever to do anything more than fool the eye into thinking it was seeing something it wasn't. Beautiful floor!  Beautiful walls!  New wiring!  Ironically it was like a movie set.  On a movie set, it doesn't matter how it is created,  as long as it looks like a wall to the camera, it's a wall!  Within no time at all, floors were caving in, duct tape was pealing off the walls, improperly installed toilets were leaking, plumbing and electric were going awry.  Before a year had gone by,  it became obvious that I had been totally conned.  Bad luck!  

So over the last decade and a half I have put an enormous amount of energy into actually restoring the fucking building.  I've been doing sections at a time in between tenants. Perhaps having the skills and a trusted friend to help is good luck indeed!

I usually drive my 1996 Ford F-150 to work on the property, but on this particular afternoon,  I had instead, driven my 2013 BMW. This was due to the bad luck of having one of my guitars damaged by the airlines when I had the good luck of competing in the International Blues Festival, where I had the bad luck of being the victim of errant scheduling! (please see earlier posts).  Subsequently, around midday I had to take my guitar to the repair shop.  I didn't want to put it in my truck as my truck was not as secure as my car. So I had my BMW.   

When I came up the street I saw a large, yellow Springfield Municipal dump truck parked in front of my uphill neighbor's house. It seemed an odd sight on this quiet, go-no-where, Media, PA street.  Immediately my spider senses started tingling. Perhaps it was just paranoia.  But I did not want that truck to back into my car. So, circumventing that possible bit of bad luck, (do we make out own luck?)  I parked in front of my downhill neighbor's home. There was the entire width of my house and yard, some 25 or 30  or more feet between me and the big, yellow, monster of a  truck. The car was well within view of the driver's mirrors and he had plenty of room to back up and pull out.  Feeling safe I went inside my house. (Are you getting a foreboding sense?)  

The basement of this old house had started leaking a few years ago, (what bad luck!) and I had successfully pinpointed the problem on the exterior and stopped the leak (what good luck!).  But, alas, there was a second, smaller leak. (Bad Luck!).  I was down there mopping up and trying to pin point where the water was actually coming in. Outside, I heard the engine of the dump truck start with a hurrrumph.  I heard the truck engine rev as it engaged in gear, and like a giant yellow bird,  it began chirping it' s back up warning... chirp... chirp... chirp...  I kept working.  Chirp... chirp... chirp... chirp…I paused.  Chirp... chirp... chirp...chirp…chirp. I stood up straight. My eyes widened my pulse jumped.  Time shortened like a film shot at high speed and played back at normal speed. Chirp... chirp... chirp...chirp…  I bolted for the stairs!  I reached the top and raced toward the front door.... chirp... chirp... chirp... KRUNCH!

The driver's plan, apparently, had been to back all 50 yards down the street to the intersection without looking!  How anyone could get into a huge dump truck, put it in reverse, step on the gas,  and not bother looking in the back up mirrors is beyond me and irrelevant.  The damage was done. 

It remains to be seen if having a big yellow dump truck crush my car somehow becomes good luck.

The car still runs so I am able to drive John and myself to gigs. (Good Luck)

So I maintain, that cutting the tip of my finger off at the end of January, was the best luck I've had this year! Being the finger I use for the slide, I was still able to perform and enjoy my music and guitars!




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