I don’t remember how long ago I became familiar with the concept, that both good and bad events happen in threes. I attempted to do research and the closest I came to a pseudo-scientific explanation was that it was connected to “3D or physical reality.” The statement didn’t enlighten me at all, so I still do not know why good and bad events happen in threes, but they do. The concept of threes manifested in my personal life many times, but never as powerful as in that one day, in late summer of 1981.
I had finished all my training and internships with the insurance company and I was starting my first day of real work downtown Philadelphia. All the motivational talks, the positive examples worked their magic on me. I was ready to get rich and most importantly to get all the documents ready to get Cristian, my husband into the States, now that I had a job.
I was not a good driver to venture into Philadelphia, so I parked at the Paoli Train Station under a big sign which said “Towing at Owner’s expense”. I was already late, so I made a mental note to look up “towing” in the dictionary that evening, and I hopped on the train.
At the office, there was a big meeting, a presentation by a disabilities insurance company. I left my purse in my cubical and went to the main conference room to hear the speaker. She, Jody, was a short, vivacious red head who had a big smile imprinted on her face and a contagious laughter. I was introduced to her as the new agent, and she offered to answer all my questions after her talk. Her speech was informative and funny, and I wished some day I would be like her. When the speech was over, several people had more questions, so I told her when she was free, she could find me in my cubical.
I went to my spot to dot down some questions before my meeting with Jody. I sat down at my desk and couldn’t find a pen, but I remembered I had one in my purse and leaned over to find my purse under the desk, where I had left it.
No purse! The purse disappeared! I ran to the reception area and told the secretary. She gave me a look:
“You left your purse unattended in your cubical?”
“Yes, what’s wrong with that?”
“What’s wrong? You’re kidding me! Didn’t you just say someone stole it? You never leave your purse unattended, now you know better!”
She turned around and started to type as if nothing had happened.
Weren’t they going to call the Police, search the office, lock down the whole place like in the movies? Life continued at its normal pace and I went back to the cubical trying to make a plan of action. All my documents were in my purse. My new driver’s license, my Green Card and about $10.00 for my train ticket back to Paoli. Oh, it crossed my mind, I didn’t have any money for the train and the car keys were in the purse too!
I was still sobbing when Jody patted me on the shoulder:
“I hear someone stole your purse? I guess you’re new here, you don’t know … ”
“I don’t even have money for a train ticket, and my papers were in my purse, and my car key!”
“Here,” she said, and handed me a bill of $20.00. That should be enough to take you home.”
She handed me tissues and I wiped my tears.
“Girl,” she continued, “You need some one on one life lessons, I’ll take you out sometime, and we could talk.”
By the time the train arrived in Paoli, I felt drained .
I got off the train and went to where I parked the car. I looked around but there was no car!
“May I help you?” a guy who was on the same train with me, asked. “You look lost!”
Lost! That was an understatement… I explained what happened. On my first day of work someone stole my purse in the office, and now the car! And I needed to call my friends to bring me the spare key to the car, but there was no car!
“Where did you leave it? Perhaps you don’t remember the exact spot?”
I pointed to the “Towing at Owner’s expense” spot:
“I know I left it right here.”
“Miss, why would you leave your car in a towing zone? They towed your car! ”
“Who did what to my car? They stole my car?”
No, they took your car because you parked it illegally and now you have to call this number and get it from where ever they tell you to go. It’s going to cost you $75.00. See it says right here, on the sign. He pointed at the small print and I felt dizzy. $75 dollars! I didn’t have $75.00!
The man gave me some coins and I called Matt and Jim and among tears and sobs I explained what happened.
It took us a few hours to get the car and they loaned me $75.00. I made no money but was in debt $95.00! Now that’s what I call a life’s lesson!
In the evening, the three of us sat down for dinner and Jim said:
“Two bad things happened to you today, I wonder what’s the third!”
No third bad thing, this was a silly superstition. As we were having a debate on luck, good and bad, the phone rang. It was my husband, calling from Romania.
Oh, something good was happening, he was calling me.
For a moment, when I heard his voice, all my sadness and worries disappeared. I told him briefly what happened, but his voice remained inflexible, as if he was listening out of politeness, but he wasn’t hearing me.
“Rodica,” he said at last, “I called to tell you I am not coming to the United States.”
No, this wasn’t happening! I couldn’t have heard him right. It was a mistake, someone else…
“Cristian, what about your love letters, and how you slept with my picture on the pillow next to you and kissed the picture every morning? How about…”
“I …I am a man, I have needs and can’t, couldn’t be alone. There are women who desire me, a woman who loves me and needs me, and I love her and she is here and you are so far away. I have made my decision, don’t try to change it, it would be useless. You will receive the divorce papers soon.”
He hang up and I called back to demand explanations. Who was she? How long have they been together?
I called Bucharest a few times but he didn’t pick up. It was over and I couldn’t come to terms with the finality and abruptness of his decision… or was it abrupt? I was powerless!
I went to bed sobbing. Jim and Matt insisted one of them sleeps next to me, to make sure I was all right. They decided on Matt and he held me all night. When he heard me cry again, he’d whisper: “I know it’s hard, it’s okay to cry, you deserve better.” He assured me that the three bad things happened and they made space for three good things in my life.
I wished I could believe him, I wanted to trust him, but my whole being was crushed under the weight of the unpredictable. Nothing made sense anymore, who could I trust? Why was all this happening? What was the meaning? Was there a meaning or was it random?
All I could feel that late summer night in 1981, were the shattered pieces of my heart inside of me and the pain their sharp edges made me endure. All I could trust was my pain.
I was bleeding but there was no blood.