Saturday, August 21, 2010

Stick Figures and Stones

When you are the dictionary definition of ordinary - as I am - it is hard to ever seriously consider the possibility that another's behavior (especially when the person in question is a stranger to you) is directed towards you personally. Yesterday morning however I was sure that I almost ran headlong into the exception that proved the rule.

A couple of weeks ago or so I made several unflattering observations about those who feel the need to share with their fellow motorists the exact composition of their families through use of those inane stick figures that resemble chalk outlines across the tailgate or rear window of their vehicle. Yesterday morning as I was heading south on the Parkway towards the Monmouth County Courthouse (located in a certain someone's hometown) for the first of the day's two adventures, I slid into the left lane behind a mini-van (is there any type of vehicle - regardless of make and model - that clutters our highways and byways more than the mini-van? The damn things are like Gremlins: run them through a car wash and they multiply), the back window of which featured not less than ten (10) chalk/stick figures.

While most of them happened to be of the human persuasion, little Sally Shares-Too-Much behind the wheel also had the obligatory dog and cat stick figures as well. Next to the cat (on the far right of the panorama) was one that was a new sight for me: a goldfish in a bowl. Really? As a human being your time is of so little value to you that you spend a moment of it - instead of in a legitimate pursuit such as working, spending time with family, sleeping or using a magnifying glass to light your leg hair on fire - attaching a stencil to the rear of your automobile in honor of your goldfish. Pathetic. And for sh*ts and giggles, you place the goldfish on the rear window directly next to the cat and far away from the protection of the household's seemingly endless supply of humans. I was tempted to pull the mini-van driver over to ask whether the goldfish is still alive but I figured there was little chance that its owners take better care of its flesh-and-blood incarnation than they do its chalk outline version. I presumed that I kind of, sort of knew the answer to my question. And then it occurred to me that perhaps the use of what looks to all the world to be a chalk outline to represent the goldfish was actually foreshadowing.

I drove the rest of the way to Freehold - and later from Freehold to Fort Lee - without incident (on 57th Street or otherwise). Happiness is not a Friday work schedule that first takes me an hour south of my home and then an hour-plus north of my home, which guaranteed that I headed towards the George Washington Bridge with the early-arriving Yankees fan and thereafter south towards home with everyone looking to squeeze another beach weekend out of the quickly-expiring Summer of '10. I remained proud of myself that I had resisted the temptation all those hours earlier to visit bodily harm on the idiot who chronicled the life and times of her goldfish on the rear window of her automobile.

Sitting at a dead stop in traffic heading south on the Turnpike (having decided to stay off of the Parkway to avoid Shore-bound traffic.......a sentiment echoed by the 37,000 other motorists with whom I shared the southbound lanes of the Turnpike apparently) I had to flip down the visor in my car to get a bit of a break from the light and heat pouring through the windshield. And then it occurred to me that the light and heat were both presents brought to me by the sun, reminding me subtly perhaps that in the universe one of us is at the center while the other.....

....The other is merely a flawed little human as taken aback at the perceived failings of others as they undoubtedly are of his. The key after all is not recognition of another's failings but tolerance of those that - in the larger scheme of things - really do not matter very much.

-AK

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