One of my favorite movies of all time is the 1950 classic, “Harvey.” It starred Jimmy Stewart as Elwood P. Dowd and the wonderful Josephine Hull (whom you may also remember from, “Arsenic and Old Lace”) as his longsuffering sister, Veta Louise. The story line is that Elwood, a man who likes his drink, has an invisible friend named, Harvey. Not only is Harvey invisible to everyone but Elwood, with a few exceptions during the movie, but he is also a white rabbit who is over 6 feet tall, and a pooka to boot.
A pooka is a magical being from Celtic folklore that often appears to drunks and has a mischievous sense of humor. One of the things that Harvey does in the movie is to make it so that Veta can’t find her purse. It is very important that he makes Veta lose her purse because her brother Elwood is about to get a shot. The shot is going to help Elwood be normal, but unfortunately it will also change his fun-loving, easy going nature. When Veta loses her purse she has to interrupt the doctor who is about to give the shot and it gives everyone time to realize that the shot is not a good idea, after all, thereby preserving Elwood’s lovable nature.
Veta even dumps her handbag out, but the purse just isn’t there. Later, after Elwood has been saved from the shot, she opens her handbag and the purse is right there. The stricken expression on Josephine Hull’s face is absolutely expressive, as she stares in awe at the purse and gasps, “Harvey!”
So how does this relate to my day?
It was one of “those” days, today. I had all kinds of problems and setbacks, but finally got to the casting company in Sherman Oaks where I planned on registering so I could pick up more background acting work. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my social security card so we couldn’t finish processing the forms. I had my license so I had my picture ID, but couldn’t find my ssi card. I had just changed wallets, but I was sure I had put the ssi card in the new wallet. I even emptied the wallet and poked around inside and opened it wide, but there was no card.
I had to drive all the way home. I decided to get something to eat from a fast food restaurant, but the drive thru was closed for some reason so I had to go inside, more frustration and more time lost. I got my food and went home and decided to print out another 8×10, but the printer jammed, so I finally just took a ZED (a montage of headshots on one sheet) and went back. I had to take my passport because, in spite of turning my office upside down, I couldn’t find that ssi card.
I got the registration done and left. Driving home on the 405 freeway, I was just getting to my exit for Rte. 118, when a van ahead of me and one lane over, suddenly lost a large load of ladders and a culvert pipe. It happened in a flash and without thinking about it, I swerved to the right. There was just enough room for me to fit in the right lane and it made enough room for the pickup to my left to also swerve to the right.
The pickup truck almost hit me and just narrowly missed the big pipe and ladders. The whole episode happened in a fraction of a second. If I hadn’t swerved, allowing the truck to also swerve, he would have hit the debris and possibly my car as well. It could have been a very bad accident, possibly fatal. I don’t know what happened to the cars behind me, there was too much traffic to stop.
Up until that happened, I thought I was having an unlucky day, a bad day, but then I realized, that like every other day, it was a perfect day. Everything that happened was important because it put me in the right place to take up that lane on the side of the truck so that I could swerve out of the way. Maybe, if another car had been there, that driver wouldn’t have been fast enough or observant enough to avoid the pickup and debris.
I realized that the person in the pickup was having a lucky day, whether he realized it or not. His angels were working overtime at keeping me from wrapping up my business quickly and forced me to go back to my home and to make that second trip. All the little holdups and problems, from printer jams to missing ssi cards put me in the right place at the right time. If I hadn’t had to make that second trip because of the missing card, I would not have been in that spot when the emergency occurred.
After I got home, I walked to post office to mail another set of headshots to yet another casting company. When I went to pay for my postage I opened my wallet and there, in plain sight, was my ssi card. Without thinking, I made a Josephine Hull-esque face and gasped, “Harvey!” I am sure the clerk thought I was crazy.
I wonder if that person who was driving the pickup truck has a pooka?