Have you ever had a streak of bad luck - a series of unfortunate incidents that make life at least temporarily miserable? With me these strange things always happen in clusters, with no apparent reason and in spite of the most painstaking effort to avoid them.
For instance, department stores. Sears has a hex on me. Everything I have ever purchased at Sears - my entire life - has failed to work if it has moving parts. That includes lamps, typewriters, dryers, whatever. And for some inexplicable reason I always go back. It may be that I have a deep inner need to begin a new streak and since I am an incurable optimist, I just never give up.Unfortunately, my steaks of bad luck are not limited to department stores. Shortly after moving to Massachusetts, we bought a new station wagon to accommodate our growing family. After all, every suburban family MUST have a station wagon.
So we researched station wagons in "Consumer Reports," then checked the background of the seller through the Better Business Bureau. In spite of that great care, I was given a certificate of ownership from the company that had a secret code indicating that I was not the original owner. In fact, the seller turned out to be a crook and was forced out of business early in the life of the car.
Tired of station wagons, we decided to buy a real car more recently. Observing that Chevrolet's Celebrity was the fastest selling car in the country and given a high rating by "Consumer Reports," we decided it was a good buy. Besides, we had several friends and relatives who had good reports about their own Celebrities. We bought it and after a few thousand miles decided we had a lemon. My study of "Consumer Reports" had revealed that 1984 was a lemon year, but who would dream that my NEW Celebrity would be one too?
No one has officially claimed it as such, but we have repaired most things on it at least twice and it is only slightly over 50,000 miles. The golden year was 1986. It could be, of course, that my dealer just enjoys a mounting repair bill and cannot be trusted. In a period of one week I ran up a $500 bill on four separate occasions. Don't try to sell me another Celebrity.
Then, of course, there was our house. Our first house. We approached it with the same consummate care we had exhibited toward automobiles. We studied the market, we consulted several real estate agents and once we selected a builder, we investigated his reputation and found it spotless.
We loved the house and the location and we bought it. Only a few months later we discovered that our entire neighborhood had been constructed in a swamp and that the building permit and the "perk test," which proved that the land would absorb water, had been forged by the builder, who was also the chairman of the planning board of our New England town.
The builder was a crook and had done many other things more serious than this. Eventually, he wound up in prison. Once, during the construction process, I had an argument with the foreman that I regretted when I later learned that he was indicted for and later convicted of killing the police chief's son.
These are the major cases of bad luck in my history. We had also had a streak of neighborhood vandalism that arrived out the blue, including the loss of drainpipes and mailbox, egging of the house, and the filling of the notorious station wagon with water from a neighbor's hose during the night. There was no research we could do to avoid that one.
We also ended up with a next-door neighbor who just happened to have a carnival business "on the side," and who, without warning, began driving huge semis up our street and all over his property, depositing loads of panda bears and other stuffed animals. It often appeared for all the world that we had a carnival next door.
When we implored him to park his vans and trucks elsewhere, he reacted adamantly. "Listen," he said with apparent sincerity and no hint of a smile, "you should realize that I care about nothing except money, and I will do whatever is necessary to protect my business." A chill crept up my spine.
After that, Sears is a pleasure.