CHAPTER THREE: Edge
I’m not a soldier anymore, I’m a lawyer now.
Not long ago my client Chance and I had to go New York together for a deposition. He called me the day before we were to leave and asked whether I wanted him to pick me up on the way to the airport.
“Sure,” I said. “Is 8:30 good for you?”
“What?” Chance replied. “Dredd, that’s two hours before the flight. Are you kidding?”
“I always do that.” I replied.
“Because something might go wrong,” I replied, thinking of Murphy’s Law. Old habits die hard.
“Well, you’re crazy. I’ll just meet you out there.” Chance said.
The next day I was sitting at the gate answering emails when Chance rolled up. Our flight was about half-boarded, and Chance was huffing and puffing a little bit.
“Damn,” he said. “Did you get caught behind that wreck coming in?” He asked.
“No, it must have happened after I came through.”
“How long have you been here?”
“About an hour.” I replied.
“Ha!” He said triumphantly. “That’s an hour of your life you’ll never get back.”
“True,” I replied. But it was never really “my” hour anyway. I don’t control time. No man does. You just have to flow with it.
After we got to New York I wrapped the deposition up faster than I expected, so Chance and I found ourselves in the Admiral’s Club at the airport (his membership) with three hours to kill before our return flight. As soon as we sat down, Chance got on his computer to look for an earlier flight.
“Boom! There’s a couple of seats on the next flight. You going to jump on that with me?” He asked me.
“Nah, I’ll just stick with what I’ve got.”
“What?” He asked me, incredulously. “You’re going to sit here for three hours, when you could get on a flight that leaves an hour earlier? Why would you do that?”
“Two reasons. First, I like it here. I’ve never been in the Admiral’s Club before. I don’t mind kicking back here.” I replied.
“Well, you better not bill me for it,” he said. “What’s the second reason?”
“You sure you want to know?” I asked. “It’s kind of ghoulish.”
“Sure. I don’t care. Go ahead.”
“I never change flights if I don’t have to because that will cause a ripple in the flow. I might be getting on a plane that’s going to crash. I don’t want to tempt Murphy.”
Chance looked at me like I was crazy. “But Dredd, the opposite could also be true. The flight you’re staying on could be the one that crashes.”
“True,” I replied. “But at least I’ll know in the last few moments before we burn in that I didn’t do it to myself.”
“So, you never change flights?” He asked.
“Sure, if my flight is canceled. Then I adapt. But otherwise, I just go with the flow.”
“OK, well you go right ahead with that. I’m not going to waste that hour sitting here. That’s an hour you’ll never get back.” Chance said.
“True,” I said. But just like that hour that Chance thought I had wasted getting to the airport early on the way to New York, this hour wasn’t mine anyway. No man controls time.
I get why Chance thought I was crazy. He’s an Edge Traveler and I’m a Flow Traveler. Where a Flow Traveler sees time and place as something that is subject to Chaos, an Edge Traveler believes they are within his Control. “Control” is the perceived power to determine events and direct the actions of others toward specified outcomes. Edge Travelers believe in Control. They always look for an Edge rather than going with the Flow.
I don’t know what confluence of Chaotic events and actions of others led to that C-5 landing in Dakar that day in 1991—nine hours after a C-130 was supposed to be there. I just know that it did. Nor do I know why a traffic accident almost caused Chance to miss his flight to New York in 2016–although it didn’t. And even though I was the lawyer taking that deposition in New York that ended three hours earlier than I expected, the fact that it did so was outside of any power I had to determine events.
Because I’m a Flow Traveler, I believe all those hours Chance thinks I’ve “lost” going with the Flow are balanced out by the hours I’ve “gained” not trying to get the Edge, which (ironically) is the harder path to take.
Or maybe they aren’t. Either way, that determination has nothing to do with me. It belongs to the one who provides me with recognizable commands—if I can be patient enough to wait for them.