But For The Grace Of Privilege And Luck

I thought I might wake up at a reasonable hour this morning and head to POTM for at least some combat kiting since it has been too long. As has been the case for the past couple of weeks, however, I instead slept like the dead. I think the experience of breaking my pandemic era travel slump, discovering Colombia, and experiencing non-Utah paragliding simultaneously across a couple of trips separated by just a few weeks, while in many ways wonderful, also proved quite draining and I am still playing catch-up.

This post, however, isn’t about paragliding, except that the sport has given me ample opportunity to consider the nature of undeserved good luck. Rather this post is about a very unusual and random occurrence had at home this morning.

Deciding to be a homebody and have a lazy morning, I had my AirPods in my ears and Audible playing some science fiction while tidying up the house. At some point I pulled the trash bag from the kitchen, walked it to the garage, flung up the lid of the can which causes it to bang gently against the outer garage door, and tossed in the bag. Just as I was doing this I thought I heard the doorbell ring but felt no particular urgency as 99% of the time it is a parcel carrier giving a courtesy ring and the other %1 of the time someone trying to save my soul from eternal damnation.

As I was walking back into the house I heard a fist pounding on the outer garage door. “That’s a little aggressive”, I thought, confusedly imagining a delivery wanting a signature, but then was alarmed to hear what I thought was “OPEN UP!” (which legal scholars might note sounds an awful lot like a command versus a request, a distinction decidedly with a difference).

I went to the front door, looked out the peephole, saw two armored Draper police officers, and opened the door. Or some such order of operations — memory and witness testimony notoriously unreliable, etc…

“John?”, they asked.

I cocked my head and furrowed my brows (or maybe I raised them? (memory!)).

“John So-And-So?”, they asked.

“No… but I still receive an awful lot of his mail! I have lived here for about 18 months and he was the previous tenant.”

“Uhhh…”

“Would you like some ID?”, I asked.

“Sure…”

“One moment…”, I say, close the door to keep the cats in and the coyotes hungry, and head into the house to fetch my wallet.

“Right”, I think to myself coming back to the door, “this is probably how things get confused and people get shot”, so I open the knob with my left hand and make sure that my right hand nonchalantly comes out the door by itself clearly holding my driver’s license.

The officers, whom I should note always seemed calm, polite, and professional, seemed satisfied and we proceeded to chat for a moment. Apparently John had been involved in a traffic incident earlier today and more than one agency was looking for him. I imagined there may have been a hit-and-run, but that is speculation on my part, for all I really know is that a man-hunt for someone else brought police to my door. They asked if I might know how to get in touch with him and I suggested that the leasing agency might be their best bet.

Then they were gone and I had some time to ponder the experience.

What if they had come earlier while I was sleeping or at a moment when I was in the bathroom with the fan and/or shower running? What if the seal on my AirPods had been better? What if they had a warrant? What if I looked like this John character? What if John’s incident was of a more severe nature? What if I fit a profile? What if I didn’t live in a nice neighborhood? What if the dice roll had sent less exemplary officers to my door? What if I were less conscious about making my movements non-threatening? What if events had unfolded in a way where I mistook the circumstances as a home invasion and went for one of my firearms?

And on and on my very lateral and imaginative brain went…

How many variables, whether in-the-moment randomness or long held privilege, would have needed to be otherwise to yield a materially different outcome? How many would have been enough to escalate from a simple mistaken address to some kind of embarrassment, injury, or traumatization? How many to end up with a Breonna Taylor-esque fiasco?

It is easy to forget how much luck and privilege are involved in ensuring that any given Saturday morning remains relatively uneventful. Sometimes a reminder can help.

[Author’s Note: Some people who I think wanted to save my soul knocked just as I was finishing this. I did not open the door. Hopefully it wasn’t undercover FBI agents looking for John. I have had enough fun for one day.]

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