Three mistakes of my life


1. I should have just taken my longboard. But I was lazy. I had a flat on my bike and I asked C if I could borrow hers to run an errand. ‘It’s the one with the white helmet’, she said, as she handed me the key. ‘Gotcha’, I replied, and headed out only to see two bikes. One was white with a blue helmet and the other was blue with a white helmet. Without even a hint of hesitation, I headed to the white bike. She obviously said white ‘bike’, I reiterated to myself. Obviously.

I thrust the key in the look and cribbed to myself at how people didn’t take care of their bikes and how jammed this stupid lock was. After I had jiggled for a couple of seconds, I felt something give away. I pulled the key out of the lock and realized it was shorter than what had gone in. I dismally stared at the broken piece of metal in my hand and it dawned on me what I had just gotten myself into. I headed back into the lab, all the while, telling myself, that C obviously had a spare key. Obviously.

She looked up from her screen as I walked into her office. I sheepishly smiled at her and she sighed, ‘Uh oh, what did you do now Saad’. I held up the broken key and told her about my newly discovered super strength of breaking metal with my bare hands. I could clearly see she wasn’t impressed.

As fate would have it, she didn’t have a spare key. So there I was – two dysfunctional bikes and one irked lab-mate. I left a post-it on the seat of the white bike with my number and headed back into the lab to wait for my phone to ring and discover the other person whose day I had just ruined.

After an hour of waiting, I got tired and decided to head out to get some coffee. I had barely walked up to the door, when, through the glass door, I saw C-prime standing on the other side with a post-it in her hand, a sad look on her usual smiling face. Her eyes appeared as if they were about to break into tears. For a brief second, both of us just stood there, looking at each other through the door. Fuck. Of all the people in the world, why did it have to be her, I muttered to myself as I pushed open the door. She just looked at me with her big watery eyes and sighed, ‘What did you do to me Saad. What did you do..’

You know when you make stupid mistakes, its fine. You don’t feel that bad. You’re only human, you justify to yourself. It could have been worse, you rationalize in your head. But it feels like shit when your mistake inconveniences others. Argh.

It wasn’t a very pretty picture. Two vexed women. Two locked bikes. I did the best I could to fix the situation. I rented a car and drove them to their homes. I even offered to pick them up in the morning and drive them back as well. C-prime said she needed to get to the gym at six am. Six in the morning!! ‘Fine’, I said. I’d be there. (But thankfully, neither of them called me in the morning.)

Cut locks

Anyway, I got the locksmith first thing in the morning. And he charged me a hundred and twenty dollars to cut the two locks and replace them. If that wasn’t enough, professors on their way to the office stopped to ask what was going on. They smiled when I told them. And then people came out with their morning coffee and stopped and chatted while the U-locks were being destroyed. Needless to say, I was the laughing-stock of the lab for the rest of the day..

Lesson learnt – never borrow other people’s vehicles. Crawl/walk/run.. but never borrow vehicles.


2. Exactly the next day, I had a flight to catch to the east coast. I had to leave my house at eight in the morning and I told myself that I’d sleep early. At least that was the plan. Instead, I ended up at the Nuthouse with N. I don’t know whose idea that was, but by the time I reached back home, it was four in the morning and I was quite buzzed. I fell asleep telling myself I’d pack in the morning.

I woke up four hours later, hurriedly threw some clothes in a bag and got in the car. I was still half-asleep so N drove while I napped. We made it to the airport in good time and I headed to the check-in counters. I walked up to one of those automatic boarding kiosks and punched in my ticket number only to find that it couldn’t  find my name on the flight to Boston. Annoyed, I walked up to the woman behind the counter and asked for help. She checked a couple of times on her machine and replied back negative. I insisted that I definitely had a ticket and there might have been something wrong with the system. She just shook her head asked me if I was positive that my flight was on that day and if I was sure that it was from the San Francisco International Airport (SFO)? Uh oh…

It hit me then. The damn flight was from San Jose International Airport (SJC). Which is at the other end of the city. Damn!

sfo to sjc


Anyhoo, with no time to spare, I hopped into a cab and told the driver to take me to SJC. He promptly proceeded to warn me that anything more than fifteen miles was charged 150% the metered fare. I just took a deep breath and said fine. Just get me there in time for my flight. For the next one hour, I sat with my eyes glued to the meter. I noticed the driver looking at me in the rearview mirror and he might have felt some pity for me because he started telling me how I wasn’t the first customer who had stepped in his cab with the this kind of blunder. For the rest of the way, he narrated stories about passengers who had forgotten passports, laptops and what-not. As much as I appreciated his gesture, it didn’t help much. I still had my eyes fixed on the meter which was flashing triple digits by now.

Well. I got to the airport just in time. It cost me 120 bucks. Tip not included.

Lesson learnt – Always go to the airport a couple of hours earlier. Always.


3. This is the stupidest one of them all. I lost my wallet on the bus/cab ride between Boston-Philadelphia. Lost pretty much everything – credit card, ID’s, license, debit cards, cash.

Of all the three, this one hardly felt bad at all. I distinctly remember just shrugging it off. I was just thankful it wasn’t my laptop or passport. That would have been a nightmare to replace. Plus this was on the last day of my east coast trip. Would have been awful if I had lost it on the first day of the trip. Not to mention, I had such a wonderful week running in NYC and Boston, that this was a small price to pay for all that joy. I wasn’t going to let this stupid wallet ruin my trip.

I cancelled my credit cards and headed off for run along the Schuylkill river. As I ran along, watching the Philadelphia skyline in the background, watching the Regatta taking place, I remember feeling like the happiest guy on earth. I remember consoling myself, that years later, when I would be telling my kids the east coast trip story, I wouldn’t even remember the lost wallet incident. So, what was so great about my east coast trip. Well, that’s for another post..

Lesson learnt – When shit happens, go for run.


Never say, “oops.” Always say, “Ah, interesting.” ~ Anonymous

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