Sometimes Accidents Happen, Sometimes Not

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comI ran across my polished rock the other day.

I’ve had it since I was 6 years old or so. It is one of my prized possessions.

It’s about the size of a golf ball in the shape of a pyramid. It is a shiny mix of colors — shades of brown, blue and ochre.

I got it on a trip we took to Texas to visit family. My parents, my grandmother and I piled into the 1969 Pontiac Catalina and headed west. We called it the Grey Pontiac. It had red plastic seats that would get scalding hot in the summer. They got especially hot on the Texas trip.

I played with toy cars in the rear deck underneath the back window all the way.

I don’t remember much of anything about the trip — except for the hot seats and the way I came into possession of the rock.

We stopped in a souvenir store somewhere along the way to stretch our legs and look around. I’m sure it was a place that sold toothpick holders, souvenir trivets and little statues of the Alamo.

I’m also sure we bought a few things.

Before we left, though, the shopkeeper came up to me holding a pretty, polished rock.

I don’t remember what she said, but she gave it to me for my good behavior and for not breaking anything.

Every time I see my rock, I think about that story. For some reason, that quick moment nearly 5 decades ago made an impression on me. I know it sounds silly, but it’s something I will never forget.

It’s unforgettable because it’s the only time in my life I’ve been rewarded just for standing there.

Fast forward to 1984. I was on a study tour to Europe with a dozen or so classmates and teachers.

One of the kids on the trip was an exchange student from Japan named Koji. We loved Koji. He was hilarious; he had a huge smile and was quick with a laugh. He spoke precious little English — except for using curse words. He was pretty fluent at that.

At some point during the trip, a dozen or so of us went into a touristy store.

It wasn’t long before the sound of breaking glass reverberated through the room.

As you can imagine, we all went silent. Then, we all looked at Koji, who lowered his head slowly.

“How much is it?” he muttered to no one in particular as he looked at the broken whatnot at his feet.

We all got a pretty big kick out of it — everyone except Koji, of course. He was mortified. I thought he was going to cry.

I don’t remember if he paid for it, or if one of the professors did, or if we all chipped in and did.

Koji wasn’t behaving badly. He merely dropped whatever it was by accident.

It’s fascinating to me the way random events happen. 

Six-year-old me had a much greater probability of breaking something in Texas than 20-year-old Koji did in London.

Some accidents cannot be explained. Sometimes they just happen. Sometimes they don’t.

And when they don’t, if you’re in the right place at the right time, you just might get a rock.

About Barry Currin

Barry tries to be funny and poignant, and he's usually satisfied when he succeeds with one or the other. (Being both is awesome. And sometimes that happens.) Email him:

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