On Friday the 13th in the 1300 hour, I found myself in the worst accident I’ve ever been in. While driving in the rain, I hit a semi, spun around, and hit another car head-on. After I crawled out the window of the heavily damaged car, many people offered to help. Some made phone calls. One asked whether I would like to be prayed for. After another look at my car, I said thank you, but I don’t think prayers will help.

When I arrived at the emergency room, one of the staff members gleefully asked me if I knew what day it was as if accidents never happen on any day besides Friday the 13th. After hours of expensive inspection, the hospital released me. Humanist friends took over some of my group responsibilities while I recovered. Although health insurance companies often make excuses to avoid paying claims, the car insurance company was extremely helpful in getting things resolved. My employer was very understanding and made accommodations for me. After a period of mourning, I have replaced the damaged car with a newer one.

Some have told me that I was extremely lucky and that angels were looking out for me on that Friday the 13th. Not everyone walks away from a totally damaged vehicle. Some people lose jobs for missing time at work or go bankrupt from medical expenses. Not everyone has the insurance, employment, resources, and network to recover as I did. In the United States, not everyone has a safety net.

Then does this event show good or bad luck? What I see is neither good nor bad luck but a series of naturally occurring events. The accident was the result of my trip in the car, and I owe a lot to people like Ralph Nader who pushed for car safety and to safety engineers who designed features like air bags. I am also grateful to many people who helped. My so-called luck comes from the thought, investigation, and actions of a network of caring people. Life comes with risks and people need each other to get through.

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