In Sri Lanka, and perhaps elsewhere many people on survival mode wear their lives on their shoulders and live quite dangerously and by the grace of the almighty having faith in the supreme being to take care of chances we take in life, more out of forced circumstances than by design.
Driving my broken down, rusty and quite the worse for wear pick up, I know I always live dangerously not out of choice but out of force of circumstance. (my detractors may beg to disagree, but that is from their armchairs!) I have to make tough choices and prioritize my expenses primarily for the must dos. There is a long list of wants and desires that can only be met if circumstances were different.
In this regard, when I spend over Rs20,000 on a set of tires in November last and discover less than 10,000km later, in April they have both completely lost their tread, what does one do? I know in this instance, when I requested CEAT FM tires and was given CEAT T2000 for the same price, saying they were equally good, I was completely misinformed. The FM tires, purchased at the same place gave me 25,000KM so it is a no brainer that the latter were inferior in every respect, and I was had by the unscrupulous dealer, the Tire Box on Malay Street as they were out of the FMs.
To cut a long story short, I had a puncture in a desolate stretch of road in Hanwella about 20 minutes away from home, on my drive back to base in Godagama, from Minneriya quite late at night as that is the time I can spare for driving. Fortunately I had a man Friday with me, and was not alone on this trip, as sometimes I drive back on my own with no helper.
When the jack, the original that came with the vehicle was set up, for want of an explanation with a fully loaded pickup it just gave way and buckled once fully outstretched. Fortunately we had the presence of mind to put back the punctured tire, so the full force of the fall did not depress the axle to the ground, as I had a premonition that a bent jack pre-warned a break which was what happened.
What does one do? Broken jack, stuck in the middle of the night, it looked like we were in for a whole night standing outside; sitting in the cab may have resulted in further weight that may depress the axle or result in the wheel also buckling.
When this ghastly proposition dawned on us both, a man seemingly from nowhere turned up and in passing, asked us what was wrong, and I flashed the flashlight at the broken buckled jack and showed him our unenviable situation. He then suggested I come with him up the road and that he knew of a garage, and would see if he could get a hydraulic jack to help us out. Fortunately there was a man in the garage, in the inside room asleep, he was a member of staff who also acted as the security due to vehicles in the garage requiring some guard. He was woken up and told by the good Samaritan, that he would act as the guarantor and to give me the jack and that I would return it once I had been able to change the wheel.
After some false starts we were able to use this jack to change the wheel and get back home in one piece breathing a sigh of relief that we were saved by a stroke of luck or divine intervention from a much more battered alternative.
We returned the jack having to wake him up again, and the offer of some money for the trouble was politely refused. I left my name and phone number with him to give to the good Samaritan who also appeared to be a traveler who went to far off places to buy produce for sale in other places.
What is the moral of this story? Is it that one should take no chances in life and play very safe? Going about minimally, staying in one place and making doubly sure that all bases and possibilities are covered. Maybe have comprehensive insurance and have a good roadworthy vehicle. Some even have backup vehicles when they go long distances so they are not stranded. Well these luxuries are for a select few and the other mortals live their lives the best they can as I believe I do.
One only lives on this earth a short time and is either full of life’s experiences or devoid of them. While I have had my fill of experiences, I still seem to want even more experiences at the pace of life I lead. My goal is of course to improve upon my current situation, and I am taking the necessary steps to do so, however there are circumstances that intervene that make this goal a little difficult to attain at present, and possibly some delay in achievement with the obstacles seemingly limitless. However when one compares ones life with others with seemingly much easier lives, and when one delves more deeply into their lives and find them far more troubled, one is thankful for the mercies one actually has and not the obstacles one is faced with.
It is true that it is not the achievements that count, but the path one treads in life’s experiences that determine character. It is difficult to divine this path exactly, but as long as the road is clearly marked ahead, and the pitfalls are avoided and the pot holes carefully trodden on, the eventual destination will seem worth the road traveled. We must never forget that we just cannot predict the next moment and being grateful it is not worse is fulfillment in itself, though we may not realize it at the time of occurrence.