Saturday, 17 December 2011

Movie Life

A few years ago I was once called to account by a friend for mentioning the phenomenon of luck, "You believe in luck?" he said.

I picked up on his rhetorical tone and answered with something like, "I have the same profound conviction in the existence of luck as I do for the concrete reality of this mug of tea in my hand!" we were at a tea break in a work's canteen. As you might guess my friend was an intelligent and rational person, who had no sympathy for the supernatural or superstition. He was somewhat bewildered by my reply and prompted me further, indicating that he was surprised that I should embrace a concept that he believed was irrational and ridiculous. I countered, saying that he was inferring that I believed luck to be some metaphysical phenomena "That's not necessary," I said "just think of it as an adjective, like black or white -- good or evil." The discussion continued for as long as the allotted period for a tea break and embraced things like the difference between concepts and concrete reality, then we both returned to work.

So why am I pondering luck today and why is this post entitled Movie Life? Well yesterday something very strange happened, I had a rare encounter with good luck that coincided with some recent pondering on the virtues of selfish versus selfless behavior. I would say I'm the the last person to be prone to demonstrable acts of selfless behavior. In fact I'd say I'm suspicious of and often despise folk who display such behavior. I don't think such an attitude is rare, I think most people view the posturing and self proclaimed virtue of public figures with a skeptical eye, I don't really have to mention names do I? But the ice cream parlour that is selflessness serves more than a single flavour, and it doesn't always come with a generous topping of hypocrisy. People frequently put the comfort and needs of others before their own without thought of reward or to enhance their image in the eyes of others. Such acts almost never receive recognition but you sometimes glimpse clues to those likely to act in such a manner through everyday interaction. The guy who defers to people walking through a doorway or the woman who lets another pick up the last bunch of ripe bananas. Of course this is countered by those with a more self-serving outlook, the woman who uses her push-chair borne child to plow through crowds of Christmas shoppers, is one example of such. It's with those considerations in mind that I very recently swore a silent oath to be more selfish. It's not necessary to further detail the reasons I came to this decision but I'll just mention that a mixture of both personal reasons and observations of broader culture prompted the decision. The thing about swearing oaths is that you find that they're going to be tested sooner than you think.

So this piece of good luck I received, well, while out Christmas shopping I idly wandered into a charity shop. I think I was probably looking for second hand books but I found my self thumbing the racks of coats and I stumbled upon a leather coat in very good condition, pea-coat length, in brown leather. I'm looking for a new coat so why not see if it fits, I think and sure enough after trying it on, I find it's not only a good fit but very comfortable too. Charity shop prices have risen sharply since the economy went pear-shaped, so I was expected the price to be beyond my meager means but was surprised to see that they were still asking the relatively modest sum of £10 for the coat. It was while I was looking up the price that I saw the label. It was a name I recognized as being a label that held some reputation but as designer clothing is currently beyond my means, the label held no particular significance for me. I make my way home, confident that I've secured a bargain. It wasn't until I reached home and curiosity got the better of me that I discovered how much of a bargain.

I Google the label to find prices for the coats under this label and see sums like £150, £199, not a bad bargain, I think. Hang on all these coats are nylon or polyester, lets do a search on leather coats. Google spits out a few results, £750 is the first I see, oh shit, it's a £700 coat. There's the dilemma, even taking pre-Christmas inflation into account, I've brought a coat worth a great deal of cash from a Charity Shop for £10. Last week I would have auctioned it on e-bay and shared the cash with the shop, which I estimate would have left us sharing about £200 to £300. A nice dividend for the shop, I could pat myself on the back and even buy a decent coat with my share. That was last week though, since then I've sworn an oath to forsake acts of gratuitous selflessness and I take oaths very seriously. See what I mean, Movie Life? it's like a the plot for a cheesy rom-com.

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