As I drove through another rainy morning cloaked with a grey, wet blanket, Bobby Bloom's Montego Bay popped up as my iPod shuffled songs. I've never been there, and I'm not sure exactly what a BOAC is, but the tune transported me to other places and made me remember people I've passed on the journey.
I've found, sometimes you encounter people randomly but more than once. It may not be anything but serendipity if you're a reporter in a small city, or maybe there's a little more magic to it.
I ran into a man named Glen about three times. He was a small business owner out to live life to the fullest from what I could tell. He spent his vacations travelling, seeing sites, SCUBA diving and more.
The first time I met him, he was just back from Jamaica. It had started as a vacation trip and turned into an adventure.
A hurricane hit the island shortly after he arrived, and he and other vacationers spent about a week trying to survive and get back out of paradise. It was a time with little water and much uncertainty.
When civilization gradually took hold again, he was able to get a flight out. He recalled looking around at fellow travellers, recognizing people from the flight in and wondering what became of those who were missing.
That experience didn't seem to slow him down or dissuade him. I heard tale of other trips he took afterward, hopping here and there.
I encountered him next at the opening of a chest pain center at a local hospital. I don't know how old he was. I was young and everyone looked old, but he was probably around the age I am now. He was there as a spokesman, representing the need for a chest pain center.
He explained how he'd felt a tingling in his left arm as he took a shower one morning. Initially he denied it could be anything serious, but eventually he sought help.
It was a heart attack and they caught it in time to avert major damage. He felt he'd been given a second chance and wanted to encourage others to act quickly and hang onto life.
The last time I ran into him, I was afraid I had a flat tire. I pulled off the freeway and into his auto service center. One of his employees came out to help me check my tire. Glen popped over for a second and, seeing the employee was handling things, went on to wait on other customers. I didn't have a flat, just a low tire. With it re-inflated, I pulled back into traffic and never looked back.
A couple of years later, I heard he had died while diving somewhere out West. I was a little sad, though I didn't know him well, not friend, just acquaintance.
The second chance had played out, I guess, or maybe the Reaper had him on a list and didn't give up on that appointment in Samarra.
I guess the important message is that he milked the days, fought for the second chance and tried to make the most of time, had some fun.
When "Montego Bay" came through the speakers this morning, I recalled Glen sitting on his sofa, posing in a straw fedora for photographs, and it was a good thought for a new year. Carpe diem and all that.
Who knows what a year will bring? Maybe the good news is that it's made up of a lot of nows that can be squeezed.
I confess two things. I'm Sid and I'm a cynic.
I confess also, I've been a little down the last few days. I will endeavor to do better, to snatch the joy of each moment, even if it's as simple as humming along with an old song with a catchy beat. I'll cope with the travails as they come, and I'll look ever forward.
I will also seek to heed my own advice.
Them's my new year's resolutions.
And to G., maybe we'll cross paths again somewhere down the line. I'll look for you in the crowd in that distant port when the BOAC lands.
Come sing me La
Come sing me Montego Bay
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh