Sunday, November 23, 2008

Chance

Over the weekend, the name "Harry Carnevale" popped up in the news. The Times Union reported that a judge had ordered police records tied to the teenaged motorists death released to Carnevale's parents.

Friends, family and others who knew him agree that had young Harry lived he most certainly would have made a name for himself in the movie industry. (some say he would've eventually rivaled George Lucas and Steven Spielberg - he was simply "just that good"!) Had Harry driven through the intersection of his death either 30 seconds sooner or 30 seconds later, he'd probably be attending film school in Hollywood right now.

Such "what-if" and "paralell universe" scenarios have been the topic of many a science fiction story.

I have my own story to tell you, about a time very late in the 1990's when I was working at a place staffed with several other multi-talented individuals, all of us certainly destined for brighter days. Mysteriously, within a seven-month window, all of us found ourselves "back at square one" and the miracle here is, although two of us came close, no one died.

When explaining my role in that to friends, I say "...think of a big huge tank, like the oil storage tanks at the Port of Albany. Now, imagine there is something really wonderul inside, so you begin to climb the tank ladder so you can look over the top and see what it is... but just as you're about to get a glimpse of whatever it is, something pulls you back (or if you were dreaming, that's when you awaken)."

As the five of hurtled toward "wonderful things," the first, a very savvy and cool young lady, received the job offer of a lifetime. Of course she took it. And all was good. We'll return to her in just a moment.

Friend #2 had just made some strong career advances and was about to be taken under the wing of a powerful individual. Things went wrong... he was publicly arrested during a performance on charges that obviously were concocted. (He was framed!) At the time it happened, I strongly suspected he was set up, as the newsroom at one of the radio stations where we all were employed at the time received a fax of the gentleman's arrest record and a lot of private data. This was unusual: with all the countless arrests of people across New York and western Massachusetts, in years of working in radio, I had NEVER received such exhaustive detailed information on someone charged with a relatively minor crime. Looking back, I'm sure the sender was hoping the fax would result in my friend being fired. Which it did. And as Gillian Chung may attest, the road to get back up and running after public exposure to a mistake you've made can be a long and difficult one!

Friends #3 and #4 were an extremely talented "couple" who worked marvelously together, always on top of their game. Because I lost touch with them, I'm not exactly sure how they managed to fall from impending fame's graces, but they did. I was incredulous.

Now, back to Friend #1. Within 3 months, her new employer went "belly up" and the wonderful gig was gone. For a minute it seemed like she had landed on her feet, but the second opportunity turned out to be one of those deals where you get paid a penny and a pittance. She faded fast. She's still around in a much lower professional position, so I can't help but wonder if we all got scooped up in some kind of funky cosmic dust bent on derailing our careers.

I was "last to go" : for me things came to a screeching halt when I was involved in a car crash caused by a drunk driver. The woman totalled my car on Wolf Road in Colonie. I was at a red light, positioned to enter the Northway ramp, when I saw a pair of healights coming up fast in my rear view mirror. Then I saw a young woman on a cellphone. When I woke up, I told the investigating officer that the woman had been on the phone. He said "Don't worry about that --- she's been charged with DWI." I found out later she had been at a bar when she got the call from her boyfriend who had decided to dump her for another girl. The crash thing put the kebosh on my career for several months. My road to recovery was a long one.

Maybe you can point to an episode in your life that represents a "crossroads" for YOU, good or bad. I had an old high school chum who was convinced of the existence of "Time Gods" who covered your ass if you respected them. Maybe he was right. He's very successful today. Any thoughts?
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