Bear With Me

If any of you read the name of my blogsite and expect something like Ward Cleaver’s den, or Father Knows Best den, (just dated myself again.) forget it!  No comfy sweaters with leather elbow patches here.  This den belongs to a grumpy old bear who is roused occasionally by folks doin’ stupid stuff.  Then I shamble out and growl and wave a front paw to show my displeasure.  “You damned kids get off my lawn!”

I thought when I started this, that I might be like BrainRants, but I soon realised that I idled at a much lower R.P.M.  Perhaps it’s the extra 25 years of immunity and experience.  I’ve come to realize that continuous ranting doesn’t accomplish that much.  It’s like Charlie Brown used to say, “It’s like peeing yourself in a brown suit.  It gives you a nice warm feeling, but nobody notices.”  Not that Rants, or anyone else should stop ranting.  The world CAN be changed, slowly, a bit at a time, but, any single rant, no matter how loud, can do little against the inertia of billions of unthinking, uncaring fools.  It’s like two elephants having sex.  There’s a lot of noise and dust raised, but nothing actually happens for a long time.  It takes a Ghandi or a Martin Luther King or a Winston Churchill, and even they had to fight against strong currents.

I was heartened to see the thousands of Occupy participants, and in so many cities.  They are still few, compared to “the Establishment”, and they are/were fragmented and un-led, but I hope that some of the more astute politicians and businessmen see the writing on the wall.  They are the canary in the coal mine.  The tipping point is still far off.  It’s not quite time to storm the Bastille, shouting, “Off with their heads.”, but, it was a warning, so keep ranting.

Be nice to your fellow man.  Go a little out of your way to make his/her life a little better, a little easier.  Oh, I’m not talking to the small, select group who actually read my stuff when I get around to doling out a bit more unexciting pap.  I’m talking to the huge, imaginary readership I wish I had.  In a production seminar, the instructor stressed the importance of “ready for the next user”.  This applies whether it’s the next guy on a production line, or the next person you meet (or, perhaps never see) at a supermarket.  Rants and I have both recently posted about the importance of THINKING.  Think about who will be affected by anything you do.

Supermarkets and parking lots seem to be where I witness most of the, Man’s Inhumanity to Man, that I see.  That’s probably because that’s where large groups of people inter-react with each other in a concentrated space, usually badly, inconsiderately, selfishly.  The driving and parking of some (most?) people, both inside and outside, just drives me berserk.  Both my wife and my daughter are semi-handicapped.  We rate one of those blue and white wheelchair cards for the windshield, so handicapped parking spaces are important to me.  If I’m alone or with my son, we never use them, even though I’ve got the magic key.  He and I can walk in from the back if we have to.

Shopping carts and what to do with them after you’ve loaded the groceries into your car.  DON’T stick them in the handicapped parking spot!!!  Really!  People do that!  Back when I was working, I had a week of three to eleven shift.  I got up one morning and rode my motorcycle down to the nearest plaza.  I got off the bike and was divesting myself of helmet, gloves and jacket.  As I stood there doing this, a smartly dressed young woman near the end of the row loaded some stuff into the back of a hatchback and pushed the empty cart across to the next row and shoved it into a handicapped spot.  Not across the top of the spot, or up the side of it so that a handicapped person might still be able to get into it, but smack-dab in the middle of it.  As she walked back to her car, I yelled at her, “Hey! don’t leave it there.  That’s a handicap spot.  Put it in the cart corral where it belongs.”  The corral was three spaces towards me.  “I’m busy.” she replied, and kept walking.

While she got busy, getting into her car, starting it and getting her seatbelt on, I got busy with the cart.  I quickly grabbed it and walked it straight at the back of her car.  I turned it sideways and walked back and leaned on my bike.  She came slithering out of her car with her Medusa face on.  If looks could kill, I’d have been a puddle on the parking lot.  I smiled, looked at my watch and said, “I don’t have to be to work till three.”  You know, she wasn’t as busy as she thought she was.  She had the time to take that cart and put it where it belonged, out of everybody else’s way.  On her way back to her car for the second time, I noticed, hanging from her neck, a beautiful 3 to 4 inch silver crucifix with jewels.  I’ll expound on “good Christians doing only good deeds” in a later post.

I always try to make the life of the person “next in production” behind me a little easier.  Sometimes I can offer a bit more, sometimes a bit less, but it is always a pleasant surprise to see how, even a little consideration for others can evoke such happy reactions.

The Emperor’s New Car

You should all know the story of the Emperor’s new clothes, supposedly invisible to the unworthy, until a little child proved that they didn’t exist.

I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but here, every day, when I go out, I see the Emperor’s new car.  In fact I often see part of what must be a huge fleet of his vehicles, everything from a little SmartCar to a big semi.  Better to say I don’t see them.  I must be very unworthy.

They are just in front of other cars sitting at red lights.  I don’t know what it is about people pulling up to the white line at a light.  That’s where the Highway Traffic Act insists you must be, but I’ve seen cars a few feet back from the line.  Okay, the driver just doesn’t know where the front of the car is in relation to the white line.  If that was all I saw, I wouldn’t be ranting.  That’s the best-case scenario.  It progresses to enough space to put a SmartCar, to enough space to put a full-sized sedan, to enough space for a car and trailer, to enough for two cars.  A couple of times I’ve seen enough space to put a full-size transport truck.

Are these drivers afraid that someone will come around the corner, and run into them?  Highly unlikely, especially at the big intersections, with the concrete dividers.  Of course, it’s not just the cars at the front of the parade.  As I leave my subdivision, and roll down the hill to the main cross-street, I see, a half a car-length empty, then a car, then an empty car-length, then another car, then two car-lengths of empty space, then a pick-up, etc. etc. etc.  I just don’t understand the reason for all the empty space.  I thought one time that maybe these people were somehow afraid that the person in front of them might back into them.  All that space just gives them enough room to really build up speed.

I don’t think of myself as an aggressive driver, although my wife has so defined me at times.  I’m just ADHD enough that I’m a precise driver.  All that open space offends my sense of order.  The getting there isn’t half the fun, being there is.

Why am I ranting about this, I hear you asking.  This goes back to my last comment about knowing and caring for others around you.  As I approach my neighbourhood corner, and many others like them, I, and the guys behind me want to get over into the left-turn lane, and take advantage of the advanced green.  In this keg-party parking lot, six cars take up ten spots, and I can’t get past them to turn left.

Why did the chicken cross the road?  That’s the problem!  We can’t get them to cross it  Woe  betide you if you manage to make the left lane, but get behind one of these automotive marshmallows.  I’ve sat for an entire advanced green behind some wimp who doesn’t notice the little green arrow, or doesn’t know that it’s for him, or is just too cautious(?) to pull out.  Even once the big solid green comes up, they sit behind the line, perhaps inching forward just far enough that they can complete the turn on the orange, but I get to sit behind the line and wait for the next light.  If you make your turn from there, you’ll wind up on the wrong side of the road.  You’re going to have to move forward sometime, do it now so that two or three others behind you can get though also.

In my town, several of the main roads have demand lights at some cross-streets.  Magnetic wires are embedded in the pavement on the cross-streets.  If there’s no traffic on them, the light never changes on the main road.  I was going to work one day at a non-peak time.  As I approached the main road I would have to turn onto, I noticed, two blocks ahead, at the red light, a car already sitting there.  “Good,” I thought, “they’ll have the light green by the time I get there.”  Pulled up behind them, but no green yet.  Grandpa and grandma in a land-yacht slightly smaller than the Titanic.  Hmmm, still no green.  Then I realized why.  They were so far back from the intersection that they hadn’t tripped the mag-strip.  I don’t know how long they had waited for a non-existent green light.  I backed up a bit, pulled around them and back into the lane, to cycle the light.

Anybody know why so many drivers leave so much unnecessary empty space, please enlighten me.  Is it excess caution?  Is it lack of driving/stopping skills.  Is it lack of attention and consideration for those who have to follow you?