The Star-News


On the road with chance and trust

Sun, Aug 07 2011 12:00 PM Posted By: Carlos R. Davalos

(Somewhere, Latin America) The realization that we live as a courtesy of chance and trustvis nothing new.

Months ago I watched avpickup truck careen out of controlvand smash into the centervdivider then back across all four lanes on the 805 northvnear the 94. His overturned vehicle narrowly missed clipping mine as I drove past. Chance.

On the days I cross F Street to grab a smoothie at a local cafe, I don’t give a second thought to getting run over by a driver making a California stop. Trust.

But there's something about traveling abroad that is jolting, and serves as an alarming reminder of just how big a role chance and trust play in our lives.

It starts simply enough. We expect that engineers, ground crews and pilots know enough about planes to get us from A to B in one piece. Trust.

We land, have a few hours to kill on a layover and read about a jetliner in another part of the world crashing. Chance.

Eventually, we get to where we are going.

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, traffic lanes, stop lights and rules of the road appear to be mere suggestions. Whimsical ideas.

Cab drivers there regularly drive on what appears to be the wrong side of the road. After all, in the States if you’re driving in the direction of the arrow painted on the road, you know you’re relatively safe. In Buenos Aires, driving against the arrows is a perfectly acceptable way of avoiding bottlenecks and traffic jams. As is making your own lane.

Time and again cabbies squeezed their Camry-sized cars between buses on either side of them. It was akin to squeezing an Accord between an MTS bus and a fire engine at the 805 onramp at Telegraph Canyon Road during the morning rush hour.

And still, they got me from A to B every day.Trust.

More often than not I walked a particular avenue on my way to the ATM in the San Telmo neighborhood where I was staying. I’d been warned about San Telmo by Argentine relatives.

It’s not a safe place to be, they said.

I’ve felt more uncomfortable in certain parts of North Park than I did there.

One night in another neighborhood I turned on the news and there was a live shot from the San Telmo avenue I used every day. A cop had been chasing a car thief and dropped his firearm. The  weapon discharged and the bullet hit a commuter who had been waiting for his bus to arrive.

The man died at the scene.

The accident occurred just a few doors down from where I usually went to withdraw my money. I had been there they day before. Chance.

Trust and chance. They are fickle and unpredictable traveling companions.


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