Moments make a difference

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It’s funny how life or fate or whatever you call it puts people in certain places at certain times. Maybe a red light stops you when you are in a rush and that prevents you from being part of an accident that happens a few miles and a few minutes ahead of where you sit waiting.
Perhaps, you show up in some store at the exact same time as the person with whom you live for the rest of your life. And if the story about the latest lottery winner is true, your life can change dramatically from the simple choice of buying barbecue and a lottery ticket instead of going to the chicken place your wife suggested.
A few days ago, my friend Sean, who grew up in Opp but now lives in New York City, had one of those fate-filled experiences. After Sean graduated from Auburn University’s school of architecture with a degree in interior design, he headed for the big city and for several years worked in his chosen field.
Then Sept. 11, 2001 changed the world and Sean’s life. Suddenly tourists weren’t coming to New York and without guests, the hotel chain for which Sean designed had little need for designers.
So he took lemons and made lemonade. Banking on the return of tourists in a daring move, he launched into a new career and started his own tour service.
His was right and even when there was a downturn in the economy Sean managed to keep his business going. And that is why he ended up in Times Square with a smoking SUV.
On Sunday afternoon after this happened, I opened my email to see I had a Facebook message from Sean. Its subject line was, “do you feel lucky?”
It seems fate placed him smack dab in the middle of the foiled car bombing and the realization of what almost happened finally hit him after the fact. He wrote:
“I didn’t really think a lot about it last night, however, after listening to a 30-minute press conference from the head of the NYC police department explain the details regarding last night’s Time Square incident I feel very lucky.
“I had 45 kids ages 11 to 15 yrs  plus 5 chaperones across the street from the smoking car. I was the last one out, I was paying the check… My kids were on the street. Before the evacuation began I organized my group and took them one block away to a gift shop. The last kid met me at my stated departure time when the evacuation began.”
Sean said it was also lucky that all the kids had on red T-shirts so they were easier to identify and keep together.
There were a lot of lucky folks in Time Square who walked away from a near tragedy. Sean appreciates his luck, but I think he wonders, as do I, about how life works to put us places.
“How odd when I think about it today, how things could be very different,” he said.
And how true that is for all of us. One different turn, one change of plans, a few seconds time and life can change – for the worse or the better.
So, I guess we should make every moment that we have a celebration, even the ones when we find ourselves impatiently waiting for that red light to change colors.