1. Traipsing through another airport—where were we, passing through Chicago, maybe?—we mounted a mile-high escalator, going up. (Which is the only way escalators should go, really, otherwise, you’re on a de-escalator? lowerer? why not just moving staircase?) The escalator was at least 100 feet long, maybe more. A man got on the parallel one beside us, going down. Somehow, somewhy, he had his roll-on in front of him, or beside him, and it tipped over, extended-handle first, and shot down the long length of the metal stairs, picking up speed. As he passed us, the man hunched his shoulders in guilty, apologetic mystery.
Lucky no one else was on that escalator.
Lucky no one was passing by the bottom of the escalator. When the suitcase hit bottom, it shot across the shiny floor like a freight train, like a forty-pound bullet, hit a trash can across the hall, and knocked it over.
2. My sister bought a little purse-sized umbrella one recent rainy day in New York. Unwrapping it in the rain, she must have inadvertently pressed its release button. The umbrella became a lethal weapon. Its handle fired off like a missile, flying right between a nearby man and woman. My sister ran over to apologize to them, though neither was touched, and dumped the launcher into the nearest trash can.
3. Bob and I were driving from Florence to Naples. We pulled off the highway for a quick lunch. In a bit of a hurry, we were soon ready to continue our journey. Wait, I said. let me get rid of this garbage. I gathered up some papers and drink cups and walked it over to a trash can. Lucky delay.
Back on the highway, traffic after only a minute, then stopped. Cars began to creep forward. There were shoes on the road. Lots of them, sprinkled evenly over the surface. Shoeboxes, too. Soon we came to the accident. A car had just fallen off the top level of a car-hauling truck. The car driving behind the truck crashed into the fallen car. A delivery truck next in line swerved to avoid the crash, but rolled, spilled it’s load of new shoes, hit the guard rail of the overpass it was on, and lodged cantilevered over the road below. The driver went through the windshield and lay on a grassy hill, below.
4. Close to the same time that the car fell off the car-carrying truck, an escalator at Rome’s Tiburtina train station collapsed, killing a rider, and an elevator in a Texas hospital malfunctioned, decapitating a doctor. We tend to trust things like car-carrying trucks, escalators, elevators, and automatic umbrellas. Should we worry more?