Sometimes things go your way, and other times, not so much

This column published as "As Luck Would Have It" in February 2021 issue

David Matthews / February 03, 2021 / 3 minute read
David Matthews

In this era of COVID, delivery workers are heralded as everyday heroes who keep the economy afloat and the essential goods flowing.

However, Madam Ren in Singapore would beg to differ. She called the police on her delivery driver after he broke a flower pot. 

While a flower pot may not seem like a big deal, this particular pot was believed to have special powers. 

“Because of this lucky flower pot, I would win the lottery often,” she explained to “Just this year, I won over 10 times. A few weeks before the pot was broken, I won the first prize of $2,000.”

Ren had placed the lucky pot near her door in accordance with feng shui principles. Unfortunately her attempt to harness energy forces and create harmony within her environment wound up having the opposite effect.   

“You can’t buy this type of flower pot anymore,” she continued. “Now that it is broken, my heart really aches.” 

Flying high

A family in Australia must have also broken a lucky pot as their day trip to see a waterfall in Queensland went very wrong.

In January, the family of five set out to visit Blencoe Falls, one of the most stunning waterfalls in Australia. 

As the official brochure notes, the staggered falls plunge 300 ft to a pool, before cascading a further 750 ft to the bottom of Blencoe Gorge.

The family may have failed to read the entire brochure, though, because it also warns of flooding during Australia’s wet months from December through April.

When the four adults and six-month-old baby got to the top of the range, they found the creek feeding the waterfall was swollen. They decided to turn back, but then just 12 miles from the bottom, their vehicle got stuck crossing a creek. 

When the engine shut off and couldn’t be restarted, the family safely exited the vehicle and set up a tent on a dirt road to spend the night.

And that’s when ex-Tropical Cyclone Imogen began dumping several inches of rain over much of Queensland.

The next morning, the family found themselves stranded between two rising creeks with no cell phone reception to call for help.

That’s when one of the men in the group grabbed his phone, a drone, and some tape, and devised a MacGyver-worthy solution. 

He first sent an SOS text message from his phone, which didn’t go through due to lack of reception. However, the man knew that his phone would continue trying to send the message until it found reception. 

He then attached the phone to his drone and flew it up as high as he could. When he brought the drone back down, he saw that his phone had found reception long enough during its flight to send the message. 

Once the message was received, a rescue effort immediately launched. Due to the torrential downpour, emergency workers needed chain saws and a front end loader to clear a path, but managed to rescue the family.

Finally, some good news

MacGyver would have been proud of an eighth grade boy in Seattle who created a mobility vehicle for a little boy in Denver who he doesn’t even know. 

Three-year-old Ollie has a physical disability that makes mobility difficult.

Eighth grader Eli Murphy adapted a rideable electric toy car for Ollie as a school project. He altered the car’s steering system and pedals, added padding and a lap belt, and even created a customized license plate—all while doing online schoolwork.

“Mostly just because it felt like the right thing to do,” he told CBS 4 in Denver, “but I was also looking for something to do while COVID was going and just gave me some sanity throughout this tough time.”

Eli interviewed Ollie’s parents, consulted with his physical therapist, and even consulted a couple YouTube videos to make sure the vehicle was perfect for Ollie. 

The project was funded by the California-based nonprofit Harbor Freight Tools for Schools as a pilot to demonstrate how skilled trades classes can be taught online during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eli invested about 75 hours on the project and spent less than $400, including the car and materials, which makes you wonder why motorized wheelchairs often cost tens of thousands of dollars. 

About the Author

Matthews has been chronicling the unexpectedly humorous side of transportation news since 2000. The stories are all true.

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