OP-EDS

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February 19, 2002

Strange strangers touch us all

It's funny how some of the most memorable moments in a person's life can be attributed to random meetings with strangers. For one reason or another, I have made a tremendous impact on the lives of people who have never met me before. No, no, I'm not referring to my articles. Although I would be flattered to receive an e-mail or two telling me how inspiring I am, as opposed to the ones saying "I hate your articles because you hate lesbians, blah blah." But what I am trying to say is that there have been some odd connections between me and various, memorable people that I will never forget.

This brief narrative should start with the curse that I feel I am partly responsible for. It all started three long weeks ago. Some unnatural force caused me to jolt out of the left side of my bed. After I arise from my slumber, I generally get up on the right side of the bed. Immediately after this burst of sudden energy, I attempted to walk a mere two feet, only to trip over my tennis racket and fall on my mini-fridge. I've had this recurring problem, which happens to still be a problem for me, with my little refrigerator and the deadly odor that it emits. This smell exists because of the Chinese leftovers that have remained in the fridge for a few weeks. I tried using baking soda that should have absorbed the odor, I tried using soaps and fresheners, my friends attempted to endure the smell and let it out by opening the windows, and even my mom confidently brought perfume to eradicate the toxic stench. All of these methods were to no avail and on this day of the curse, I had fallen on the fridge, only to open it (for some odd reason) and enjoy the whiff that shall forever haunt my precious refrigerator.

With a midterm and many papers due, I assumed this would be the worst of days. If tripping over prized possessions, nearly fainting from lethal fumes, and dropping a hot iron on my foot (because my ironing board is broken) weren't enough, what would be coming in store would be a heartbreaker. Instead of falling down a flight of stairs or making a complete idiot of myself by trying to answer questions that would require some intellect, the day went by quite smoothly. For once, the bus arrived when I wanted it to. The girl in front of me, with bright blond hair and big eyelashes, was just full of cheer. Unfortunately for this student, her smile didn't last too long as she tripped over the steps getting on the bus, her cards and coins spewing everywhere. I couldn't help but chuckle, considering the fact that the slip was supposed to happen to me. Wasn't it my day to be lost?

As I walked to class, I noticed an elderly couple approaching me from the opposite direction walking their German Shepherds. As much as my heart bleeds for the affection of a canine, dogs do not seem to care about my loyalty, as they find some way to torture me incessantly. The gargantuan dogs such as the Saint Bernards topple me over and the small Chihuahua-like pups amuse themselves by using my feet as urinals. As I saw these dogs approaching, I grumbled a bitter statement along the lines of "Oh no, these people can't control dogs of that size." Of course, the dogs were loose, but instead of heading my way, they leapt around me and chased a man behind me.

The day seemed to be getting better and better, as I enjoyed the slight suffering of others. At dinner, the kid behind me attempted to pick up one tray and ended up dropping all of them. It seemed as if all of Bartlett turned around at that moment. I'm sure this happens often at Bartlett, but it was ironic how I had just picked up my tray before his little accident. Many little things happened to others who happened to be right beside me. For example, I mentioned to friend before class how I pity those who step on gum and have to clean it up. What happens then other than a girl stepping on gum as she walks into the classroom! I thought these miracles only happened on Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Apparently, I had the luck of a unicorn in full flight.

Well, when I realized that unicorns don't exist, my lucky streak came to a depressing close. After waking up and jumping unconsciously on the left side of the bed, I returned to the right side. This started a myriad of strange occurrences, too many to list here. The most memorable would probably be the girl who attacked me walking home from Walgreens. I have told and retold this story many times, so my memory has no true grasp on the actual events that occurred. I do remember the basic story line and that's all that is really necessary. I found myself waiting at a stoplight, watching the mix of BMWs and Geo Metros pass by (only in Hyde Park) and suddenly, a ball of snow comes flying at me. My precious jacket had been stained by the wicked H20. I turned around and realized that my enemy happened to be a tiny little girl who looked about 10 or 11. Once she spoke, I realized that she was a force to be reckoned with. The girl threw down her book bag and called me ragged (did I really look that awful?) and continued with a string of swearing. All I could do was chuckle, as I could not even imagine starting a fight with a girl, let alone one who happened to be about six years younger than me. I couldn't completely make out her question because 75 percent of the words were profanities, but I assume the basic point was "What are you laughing at, fool?" All I could think was "Yes, I am a fool and yes, I am laughing at you." Instead of starting a verbal war that would result in her asking me how to spell "bling bling," I walked away, starting one long adventure with a new stranger every day, always to be continued.

Jay Patel is a first-year in the College concentrating in economics. He can be reached at jaypatel@uchicago.edu.