People for whom a disaster is not so disatrous

My grandfather used to work for Pratt and Whitney aircraft manufacturers in CT, and at one point, part of his duties used to include informing widows when a worker was killed on an on-the-job accident. He told me that every woman he told was devastated, except for one, who said words to the effect of “Thank God, I hated the bastard. Come on in and have a drink!” The widespread death that the tornadoes in Joplin have me thinking about that story, and I thought about it as well after 9/11…given that human relationships, even with family, are not always happy and loving, and the number of people involved…I wonder how many people found an unexpected disaster to be also an unexpected blessing? And how many people would be as honest about it as that woman was?

I’m sure a few people whose houses were about to be foreclosed are thankful they still had insurance on them after the tornadoes passed through.

I’ve thought of this before. Like 9/11–you can’t tell me there wasn’t at least one son-of-a-bitch wife-beater who died that day, freeing some woman from his tyranny.

I’ve also wondered if anybody’s ever taken advantage of a disaster like that to just disappear from their old life. Like they were supposed to be in the Towers that day, but for whatever reason they weren’t, and instead of going home they just let everyone think they had died.

Look at Hurricane Karina. There were quite a few people that benefited from being relocated out of the slums of New Orleans to other places. I recall articles how the relocated were fighting to stay in places like Spokane, Salt Lake City and Boise. So even though they lost everything they found something better to replace it.

It’s probably less likely in something like a tornado because the destruction is so indiscriminate. That woman lost a husband she hated; she didn’t lose her house, children, and pets at the same time. Nor for that matter did she lose friends and neighbors. The random death of one person they know is more likely to be an unalloyed pleasure for someone than the random death of many people they know because the death of someone they like becomes a near certainty.

I just popped in to say: I read a column on this very topic recently, I thought in The New York Times, but I can’t seem to find it.

Anyone who’s looking for stories like this might find some comfort in this book …

Best, JK

I heard a story about someone who was supposed to have been in the WTC that day, but there was some evidence to suggest he wasn’t there and used it as an opportunity to disappear. I don’t remember the details, but I think he’d left for work late that day, and wouldn’t have gotten there until 9:30 at the earliest. If that was correct, there’s no way he’d have been in the Towers.
I think it was more about his wife wanting desperately to believe he was still alive, but there was a lot that didn’t add up.