I’m not sure if it has to do with anything else, whether it’s karma or pay back for having a good life in other ways, but I can say in all sincerity that my husband has the worst luck I’ve ever seen.

black cloud
Sunny skies, but rain falls on Black Cloud Baker’s car.

If we’re on a road trip of any distance, for instance, it will start to rain. Rain hard. And the rain will follow him wherever he seems to go. Lexington? Ohio? Indiana? Montreal? Doesn’t matter.

And he never makes it through the longest red light in town without having the longest wait possible, always turning the corner and arriving a split second after the light has turned. So he invariably sits there waiting, first in line, watching the cross traffic go through a green cycle and then a turn cycle.

When he was a medical resident, his nickname was Black Cloud Baker and no one ever wanted to be on call with him because they knew it would be the worst, most tortuous night. Machines would break or patients would go crazy, the cafeteria would serve gray meatloaf and attendings would be in unusually bad moods.

Well, last week even William was dumbfounded by his own bad luck. My little brother Matthew is getting married to his longtime girlfriend Jennie and they’ve decided to have the wedding in Kelowna in British Columbia. Though it has a population of about 200,000, it still has the feel of a resort town, one that’s tucked beside an enormous glacial lake and hugged on all sides by the Rockies.

So when they asked us to come to Kelowna to help them plan the wedding, we were both honored and got to work picking out flights. It quickly became clear there is no easy way to get from Lexington, Ky., to Kelowna, B.C., so we knew when we arrived at Bluegrass Airport we were in for a long flying day.

Except almost immediately upon arrival it became clear we weren’t going anywhere. Our first of three flights was delayed, which log-jammed the rest of our plans and grounded us in Lexington for the night. It wasn’t the worst scenario possible, since at least we weren’t stuck in Detroit, but it wasn’t good either since it swallowed up a whole day we could have spent with Matthew and Jennie.

The next morning at 5 we were waiting in line at the airport. This time, the flights were on time, but we realized we weren’t sitting beside each other. Normally, that isn’t a big deal, but one of our legs was a five-hour stretch from Atlanta to Seattle, a long time to be sitting next to a stranger but a longer time to not be sitting beside someone you do know.

Happily, the man beside me was willing to switch with William, but not until William realized he’d been gifted a seat in Economy Plus, an area of the plane that is more expensive but has more legroom. The man beside him wouldn’t switch, however, so Wm sacrificed his seat and came to sit beside me, folding his legs in front of him.

Feeling like we were finally getting somewhere, we put on our headphones and swiped our credit card to watch a movie. But low and behold, Wm’s TV — and his alone — wasn’t working; the reception and sound were jumpy to the point of being unwatchable.

Still, it was lunchtime and the food cart was heading its way toward us. When it arrived, William tried to use the food vouchers we’d been given as compensation for the fact that we’d missed our first series of flights. But upon handing the voucher over, the flight attendant rather disgustedly looked at William and told him vouchers could only be used at the terminal and not on board the plane. Instead, our sandwiches would cost $18 and, no, they didn’t have any apple juice.

At this point, with five hours in front of him and a three-hour layover awaiting him in Seattle, any normal person would be ready to lose it. There just aren’t, after all, enough magazines in the world to keep someone occupied for that long. But relying on his characteristic grace, William didn’t say a word, just clenched his jaw and dug in.

By the time we finally arrived in Kelowna, 14 hours later, we thought we were home free, that nothing could touch us now. That is until the baggage started to circle on the carousel and ours wasn’t among them. Behind us, a long line formed as customs agents grilled passengers about their vacation plans. We stood there and lamely watched as the bags on the carousel thinned. Suddenly, there was my bag, but where was William’s?

You know the answer to that.

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