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Don’t Picnic During A Police Chase

 

One hot summer evening, my friends and I spontaneously decided to have a picnic dinner in a local park by the Hudson River. Something inside me immediately felt we should stay home. At first I thought it might be because it was later in the day/evening and the park closed at sundown and we would have to rush through dinner, but that said, I just didn’t feel we should go. No one listened to me. Why should they? I only make predictions for people around the world for a living… but this was a nice summer weekend. So, I went along with the group, not wanting to eat home alone. Still the feeling persisted.

We drove to the park, found a picnic table by the water and started to eat. From our picnic table we could see flashing red lights on the bridge a distance away. “Sunday traffic,” someone said.

“Maybe there’s a fire or accident,” said another as we passed the food around.

Soon police helicopters flew above the bridge. “See, I told you,” a friend added, “It was an accident.”

We continued eating while helicopters started to fly past the bridge and headed toward the park. “Probably News helicopters circling the area for a story,” someone suggested.

I said nothing, trying to quell the uncomfortable feeling now growing stronger inside me as police helicopters approached above us.

“Someone’s probably lost in the park,” everyone agreed, except me.

We kept eating.

Suddenly, a beat up red pick-up truck barreled through the now closed park entrance at breakneck speed, broke a saw horse barrier and tore down a gravel walking path not far from where we were eating. It happened so fast, it all seemed surreal.

Twenty state and local police cars with lights flashing and undercover vans sped in a line in hot pursuit down the same path.

Everyone stopped eating.

The knot in my gut tightened as I walked to a young park worker nervously puffing an unlit cigarette in his truck. Before I could ask anything he lifted a radio microphone to his mouth and yelled – “Get out! Everyone! Murder suspects! They’re armed!”

We stuffed our food in the car and quickly drove away. He heard that a police car suffered a flat tire during the chase, but the suspects were finally apprehended in a showdown.

Finishing our picnic in the safety of a house, everyone sheepishly avoided me for the rest of the night.

The next weekend, roughly about the same time of day, the same group decided to go boating on an upstate lake. Again, I was the sole voice that said, “It will be late, and it looks like there might be a thunderstorm.”

“Ridiculous,” someone laughed, “It’s early.”

“We can get there in no time.”

“There’s not a cloud in the sky.”

Some people often need to have life repeat before they ‘get it.’ Rather than remind them of last week’s fiasco, I decided to go along for the ride and let Fate do the rest.

We ordered take-out food to eat in the boat, timing it so that we had plenty of time to pick up our food and go. As we started on our way someone noticed a few important food items missing – like our main dish. We returned to the restaurant, applauding ourselves that at least we caught the missing food before reaching our destination.

Fate reminder number one.

We were making excellent time. Almost there. Until we missed the exit. We had to drive farther, turn around, and retrace our steps. No problem, it was still early.

Fate reminder number two.

We gleefully found the exit this time and drove to the lake, sure that we would still get some quality time on the water before it grew dark. That was before we came to a dead stop after the exit due to a traffic jam. Evening began to descend.

Fate reminder number three.

Of course no one else was noticing Fate riding with us that evening. Having endured enough group mentality, and knowing the outcome wasn’t going to be pretty, I shouted, “Turn around!” to the driver at the next U-turn sign. Reflexively, he followed my command and we headed home.

 Everyone was bummed. Our food was cold and now it was dark. As we reached home, someone suggested we picnic in a small public park. At least we could make the most of the lost evening.

“No way,” I said, “It’s going to rain.”

So we split up. The die-hards dropped me off at my house with my portion of food and drove to the public park to picnic. Had I taken this last bit of Fate into my own hands?

Hardly. I settled down to my meal.

Suddenly a huge bolt of lightning split the dark and thunder rattled every window. Hailstones pelted the ground as I finished the remains of my meal, feeling a possible newfound respect from my friends and knowing that Fate was definitely on my side.

 

 

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