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Random Luck

Tuesday was just another routine day for me. I went to Philadelphia to explore some business opportunities for Marcum with my partner, Jeff Zudeck, who runs our Philadelphia office and would be in the meetings with me.

I took the 10AM Amtrak Acela from Penn Station in New York to 30th Street Station in Philly, a 70-minute trip, which was uneventful, as it should be. In fact, we arrived a couple of minutes early. At lunch with our meeting group, I praised Amtrak and the ease with which I routinely go back and forth between New York City and Philadelphia. I also went on to say how I try to always sit in the middle of the car of the train because in my own mind, I figure that in the unlikely event of an accident, the hit’s going to come either from the front or the back. So the middle must be the safest place to be. Right or wrong, this is my own logic, not backed up by any scientific facts or research.

After a great lunch at the Union League Club, followed by a meeting in our host's Center City office, we were done by 3PM, earlier than I anticipated. Jeff asked me to stay for a drink or dinner, but as it turns out, I fortunately had made plans with a friend back in NYC for a drink at 6PM and then dinner with Tracy and my 20-year-old son, Leo, at 8PM. So I took a rain check on plans with Jeff, he dropped me back at 30th Station, and I caught the 3:31PM Acela back to New York, arriving on time. Another uneventful trip.

It wasn't until Tracy and I got home from dinner and turned on the 10PM news on Fox that I learned a train leaving the same station I had, just a few hours later derailed just north of departure. We didn't know until the following morning that several people were killed and over 200 were injured; the toll now stands at 8 dead, as of this writing. Needless to say, Tuesday wasn't routine for those passengers and crew members.

No one aboard that doomed train expected their day to end the way it did. Certainly, the families of the 8 who perished had no inkling that they had seen their loved ones for the last time.

As I'm getting older, I'm starting to realize the absolute randomness of life. Whether it's age, maturity or both, I see now that life can be truly arbitrary. Whether it's an airliner flown into a mountain by a crazed pilot, an avalanche triggered by an earthquake, a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon or a train derailment whose cause appears to be excessive speed, people's days and lives sometimes end in completely random ways.

I'm not sure why bad things happen to good people. I don't know that anyone can answer that. But I can tell you for sure that I appreciate every day when I get home at night and my loved ones are all safe and sound.

Our thoughts go out to the victims of this latest random tragedy and their families and friends.

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The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Jeffrey M. Weiner and do not represent those of Marcum LLP, its partners or its employees.

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