Several months ago, while giving a very attractive woman a ride in my Harley-Davidson sidecar rig, we decided to stop and have a cocktail before dinner. Pulling up and parking the outfit, I helped her out of the sidecar and off with her helmet. A gentleman who had obviously been enjoying the full ramifications of happy hour approached us and started a conversation.
“Wow, that is really the way to spend a beautiful evening, larking about in a sidecar rig. This is really a nifty motorcycle. I think I could get behind something like this. But I don’t have that kind of money. I guess if life were fair I would own a sidecar outfit just as good as yours.” With that, he turned and tottered off semi-unsteadily, disappearing down the sidewalk.
When you own a bike, talking to total strangers about motorcycles happens more than just occasionally. When you own a sidecar it is not unusual for the machine to start conversations nearly every time you stop. Sidecars are not for those who wish to be inconspicuous or for those who wish to be left alone. The rule is to be polite, answer the obvious questions, listen to their stories, say your goodbyes and be on your way.
But this guy got me thinking. He said, “If life were fair” he would own a sidecar outfit. It didn’t matter that I didn’t know him from Adam; I wondered about his perception of money, motorcycles and fairness. I wondered about it for a long time.
It occurred to me that everyone’s notion of fairness is not the same, so just for fun, I spent a couple of weeks e-mailing and asking friends to finish this sentence: “If life is fair, then…?”
Here are some of the answers and the initials of those who responded:
“If life is fair, then I would have to reconsider the way I look at life.” <B.J.>
“we would all be bored.” <D.S.>
“why are there so many options?” <P.D.>
“everybody wins. Everybody gets to write their own story. There are no victims. Good deeds are recognized and rewarded and evil gets your ass kicked on the spot. Opportunity meets ability. God would have rethought, redesigned humanity after the first two. If life is fair we would all be vegetarians because plants only crunch when you eat them.” <T.W.> (This guy is a bit verbose.)
“If life is fair, then you will enjoy it as long as you try to be ethical.” <H.H.>
“ why isn’t it reflected in the outcome of everything?” < J.B.>
“ you stand up for yourself and take what is yours. Nobody is going to do it for you.” <J.Z.>
“ I am lovely to look at, I am rewarded for playing by the rules, my path is marked by justice, honesty and freedom. If life is fair, then peace, harmony, joy, prosperity, unity and success are my watch words. If life is fair, I will find neither my demeanor nor my path to be stormy or foul. If life is fair, I am free from self-interest, prejudice or favoritism, I will find a way to conform without losing myself to the vagaries of life. I will always be beautiful inside and out! If life is fair then all of the above is true and I really will, eventually, rediscover how beautiful I am. If life is fair, I will maintain my individuality through all this and learn to enjoy and appreciate the whimsicality of my existence!” <S.B.> (Talk about verbose.)
“ why are both of my ex-wives able to claim a greater taxable income than I, even though I earned the money in the first place?” <B.S.>
“why isn’t there a CHP car behind that jackass (alone in his behemoth truck) whizzing in and out of the carpool lane at 90?” <H.P.>
“what is justice?” <C.S.>
“how come so many people on death row are still breathing, then why are all the people who screwed up their mortgages and credit getting bailed out with my money? Then the fact that I ‘played by the rules’ should count for a lot more than it does.” <J.G.>
“the golden rule would be in full force.” <T.F.>
“we would all be the same, there would be no ups and downs, no one could ever lose, no one could ever win.” <M.W.>
“ I am going to live up to my own expectations for myself.” <V.V.>
“doing everything right will get you the results you wanted.” <D.J.>
“you are on a different planet.” <T.W’s father.>
“life is fair for a fortunate few.” <B.G.>
“I must not actually be alive.” <B.N.>
“the money in my pocket is really mine. If life is fair… Sam wouldn’t pick on me so much.” <M.S.> (Yeah, right.)
“If life is fair, this isn’t life.” <G.B.>
“If life is fair, then I’ll play the hand dealt me without regret.” <C.R.>
And lastly, my two personal favorites:
“If life is fair, Elvis would be alive and the impersonators would be dead.” <F.B.>
“If life is fair, then you’ll send me a check for my input when you get paid for the column.” <E.G.>
A debate could ensue with any of these respondents. There is no correct answer, but life doesn’t seem to be fair.
It’s one of those questions like, “If you were given a wish, what would you wish?” No matter what you wish for there is a corollary that would negate it. An example would be, if you wish for money there would be an inflation that makes it all worthless. If you wish for world peace and all killing stopped, there would be overpopulation and everyone dies of famine.
Everyone gets to come up with their own answer about the fairness of life. So my answer is… “If life is fair, then logic would trump superstition.”