When I am feeling down, depressed, sad, scared about where my life is going, I try to remember and think about all the times I was almost killed. This might sound morbid, but if you really think about what you are stressing out over at this moment, right now, it is probably not a matter of life and death. We spend so much time scared and worried about losing or gaining things that don’t really matter when you break them down into life and death.
Which is worse, having bad credit… or being dead?
If you are alive, you have probably avoided being killed in one way or another many times in your life.
Here is one of the times I almost died that I pulled from one of my previous musings:
"Being from Atlanta allowed me some serious access to the 1996 Olympics. Several of my friends from school, boarding school, yeah bad boy, came to visit and check out the spectacle. My friends "The Twins," Paul and Shaun, and Shaun’s girlfriend Molly came to visit for a couple of days in the hopes of seeing the Dream Team II in action.
We didn’t have any tickets. I don’t know if you remember the 1996 Olympics, but there were several minor logistic and PR debacles surrounding the ticket sales, the pinnacle of which was someone calling in to buy tickets from New Mexico and being told that the line they had called was for U.S. residents only.
Yep, no tickets, but that wasn’t going to stop us from going down, checking out the crowd, and seeing what the scalpers were trying to charge. The Twins and I had a history of scalping basketball tickets. I am pretty sure that I never went to a basketball game with them that we didn’t have to scalp tickets to.
We took the subway down to Centennial Olympic Park, and as you can imagine, there were a ton of people. People selling and scamming these little pins and buttons. The heat was prime Georgia summer, hot and so humid that it was raining in my pants.
I have to admit that I was skeptical of our chances of finding tickets that we could afford, but the more we talked to scalpers, the more we came to realize that our dreams of seeing the Dream Team II were probably within our reach.
Luck was on our side that day… along with the color of our skin. Hanging around outside the Basketball arena was a pair of white supremacist scalpers, only selling tickets to white people. Before approaching them, we watched this blonde man and woman angrily turn away at least half a dozen non-white people interested in their tickets. While we were talking to them, working our deal, they viciously denied several more interested parties.
Let me just be clear. I don’t understand nor condone whatever their geopolitical, racial, religious ideologies and beliefs were, but at the time the price was nice. I can’t remember the exact price of the tickets, but I do remember that they basically sold them to us at only slightly above face value.
What did we get?
Tickets to a basketball double header. I don’t remember countries that played first, but the second game was between the USA Dream Team II and China, and it was great. The US team destroyed China in a fun spectacle, truly making a show of sport. Charles Barkley led the crowd and several teammates in a sing along to the song "YMCA" during a time out. These and several other showboat moves gave the game a Harlem Globe Trotter feel.
We left the game feeling great. We had just witnessed a fun little piece of Olympic history at a price that was nice.
It had been a long day, and it was getting late, so we decided to head home rather than sticking around the park and loitering. We hopped on the train and headed home.
When we got off the train, I used a pay phone to call my mom to come pick us up. This was back when only Zach Morris had a cell phone. Also, I know, you would think that if we were grown up enough to attend an international event by ourselves, we would be grown up enough to get home on our own, but I will never be grown up enough not to want a ride.
My mom answered the phone with a casual, "Oh, good. You’re alive."
Life is strange.
Moments after we left Centennial Olympic Park on July 27, 1996, moments before we got on the train to go home, moments after we strolled right through what would be the blast area, the pipe bomb went off, injuring over 100 people and killing 2.
Luckily, we didn’t dilly or dally. Luckily, the Chinese were not even close to being a match for the US team, and the game didn’t go into overtime. Luckily, I don’t have any scars to remind me of this time I almost died… only happy memories."
So, when I feel down, I try to remember that I could have easily been maimed or killed that night, and if I had been killed, I wouldn’t have any student loan debt, a need for a job, car problems, relationship problems, or rent to pay. If I was dead wouldn’t have to figure out how to end this blog post.