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Plan as You May, Stuff Happens

There’s an old joke about a fully automatic plane that flew without a crew, and as the plane soared heavenward, an automated voice reassured the passengers, “Nothing can go wrong… nothing can go wrong… nothing can go wrong…”

Stuff happens all the time. Here are some items from the news and the grapevine to prove the point.

In north-central Costa Rica’s Ciudad Quesada, a thief robbed a hotel, but his partner never showed up with the getaway car. The dejected thief was found sitting in a nearby park with all the stolen goods.

Thieves stole a truck from a factory parking lot, thinking it was an easy haul. The factory produced intimate apparel, and the thieves discovered too late that, instead of a fortune, they’d made off with a truckload of brassieres.

In the Caribbean Limón province, 10 men with acetylene torches and crowbars were detained trying to steal a bridge. They had already cut one section, supposedly to sell for scrap metal.Not one of them lived on the other side of the river.

Now we’ve seen everything! Two men were arrested for swimming nude in the fountain of San José’s Parque España.

Paulo César Wanchope, famous for his fútbol feats, was appointed director of the National Games in January. His most consuming task was posing for pictures, as each of the 4,000 athletes wanted a photo with his or her hero.

If we’re going to globalize, we’ll have to globalize holidays, too. Bank transactions are difficult when holidays in one country don’t match those in others. A client couldn’t withdraw money from a U.S. account because it was a holiday there, and when she returned a week later, it was a holiday here.

Maybe they should globalize the names of holidays, too. Aug. 15 is Ascension Day in Catholic countries. Here it is Mother’s Day, and in Germany it’s Maria Himmelfahrt, or the day Mary went to heaven.

Borders are better now, but years ago travelers were warned not to cross the border into Panama around noon, because the two countries were in different time zones. Panama closed the border for lunch an hour earlier than Costa Rica, and when it reopened, Costa Rica closed its border for lunch.

Borders stay open now, but there was something charming about closing a country down for lunch.

Stuff happens everywhere. In the women’s dressing room at a sports complex, a woman pulling on Lycra tights and top after a shower panicked when they got twisted and she couldn’t move. She had to call for help to finish dressing.

Another sport dampened spirits and bodies when a couple in a kayak got stuck between two trees. They tried to free the boat by rocking, but instead the kayak filled with water and sank, leaving the couple chest deep in the river.

At a bingo in a village community hall, a pigeon in the rafters bombed the table with droppings, covering up several numbers on the bingo cards. The organizers of the game cried foul – or should it be fowl?

An Easter Week procession ended abruptly when a pack of dogs came running. Jesus, Mary and the apostles hitched up their skirts and ran, as did an army of Roman soldiers.

A bus was on the final turn of its route when the foam-rubber money box fell and bounced out the door. Coins rolled in all directions. Two Traffic Police officers helped pick them up, then forgot to give the driver a ticket for driving with the door open.

Good stuff happens, too. Neighbors on a country road met each morning to wait for the milkman. They noticed that a truck full of logs passed by several times a week. None of the logs carried markings to show they were legally cut. The Environment and Energy Ministry (MINAE) said it needed more information or at least a license plate number to investigate – not an easy task, as no one knew exactly when the truck went by.

It was the milkman who tracked the truck and got it put out of action.

Nobody can prevent stuff from happening. Just keep your chin up, but not so high that you fall over the holes in the sidewalk.



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