sometimes people are doing something incorrectly, or even dangerously. and sometimes you feel compelled to tell them or warn them. maybe they’re driving with their lights off, and you flash them your lights, “well, i did all i could. god be with you.” and you head on your way. there is however, a small faction of people who need to be thanked or even told “you are correct, and i am ever-thankful for you guidance and prudence.” i was running at night in los angeles because i am one of those tough guys you hear about. i was in a very quiet neighborhood where very few cars are ever out. and i was running in the street because the tree roots push up the sidewalk and make it a gauntlet to navigate. as i didn’t want to fall on my face, i chose to run in the street where the streetlights illuminate a little better, and the surface is flatter. while doing this, i heard from behind me, “hello.” i turned around thinking this must be someone needing directions. instead, it was the passenger in a prius leaning out the window to say, “hi. it’s really dark out, and we couldn’t see you.” (which make sense as they not only saw me but had time to slow down near me and get my attention) I said, “okay” which she didn’t enjoy for some reason. i think she had expected a full apology from me or an explanation for why i could be doing something so dangerous. “well ma’am, the speed limit here is 20mph, and as i run at about 8-10mph, i’ve decided to take my chances with a car approaching me at a net speed of 10mph that i can leap out of the way in time. or more likely – that they will see me, as in your case, and gently pass by without much incident. any car going faster than 20mph might pose a problem, however, i’m assuming i would hear them and be able to leap to safety as i mentioned before. it’s essentially a plan hinging on a lot of leaping to safety scenarios. not ideal, but neither is tripping over a root in the sidewalk and falling onto my face. as you are in a prius, i was not able to hear you, thus enacting the “in the unlikely event” portion of my plan – which involves a hero woman, such as yourself, lecturing me on why i’m basically a daredevil just asking to be mercilessly run down in this deathtrap of a neighborhood we find ourselves in.” when i didn’t say that and instead just moved over to the sidewalk without thanking her, she delivered her parting shot as the prius silently sped away. “you’re going to get hit!”
we generally want to treat each other, friends and strangers alike, as we would want to be treated. if someone has it a little tougher than you, maybe even go a little overboard to be extra nice …you know, because you’re such an ace of a human. however, there seem to be certain situations where maybe being slightly rude is a decent idea. say, for example, you’re on the phone with a customer service representative from a credit card company. why would you be rude to them? they have a crappy job, and they’re probably in a spot in their life where that is the best they can do. they could use a little extra compassion. right, but don’t you want their life to be better? when you’re trying to say “no, thank you. don’t want to take advantage of any introductory offers” and they keep plowing through their sales pitch without any regard for your time. “…a low introductory offer of 0.9 percent, and within that time if…” “hello, my house is on fire. i need to hang up” “…at which point, the interest on the account will be transferred…” “now i’m on fire!” and so on. isn’t it better to interject (even though it feels rude and you can sense them shaking their head and thinking, “this is my life. this is how i provide for my children …who i’m stuck with. all alone. just me. looking out for these little jerks with virtually no education. and this is the only job i can get, and people hang up on me all day.”) so that they will want to get a better job? so they’ll want to get something better. they can look back and think, “at least i don’t have assholes hanging up on me all day now.” if you’re not being somewhat rude, you’re really just enabling that poor person to stay in a horrible spot in life. you monster.
they say that sharks have remained mostly unchanged since their initial induction as a species on planet earth. they survived whatever took out the dinosaurs. they had the oceans (which to them is probably just referred to correctly as “the ocean” with some warmer and cooler parts …since it’s all connected …and we’re the only weirdos who break it up into multiple pieces) to themselves for 65 million years. just swimming around, loving it. seals weren’t around, so what did they eat mostly until new food evolved for them? just chasing around fish one at a time? imagine how great that must have felt for them as seals began to evolve right in front of them. “guys, i don’t want to get anyone’s hopes too high, but meat that can swim – slowly …is evolving right over there.” and it’s been a buffet ever since. and they’ve refused to evolve. “should we change anything? maybe figure out how to sleep without having to constantly swim? or what about finally learning to swim backwards?” “what?! no! are you kidding me?! look at us. we’re kick ass.” [then he does a little show-offy shark move] and as new species have evolved and proliferated in the ocean, they’ve had to see these prehistoric beasts trolling by. and they’re just used to it. we have rhinos and alligators (some of us do) and they look old. but they’re not ferocious predators that can go everywhere. oceanic life must be the equivalent to living on land and then seeing a velociraptor eat your pet or loved one.
books like catcher in the rye and 1984 are required reading for most school children. catcher in the rye isn’t really that enlightening as far as sitting around a campfire later in life saying things like, “but it really makes you think, man” 1984, however, is a glimpse into the idea of the man and big brother and concepts that generally embrace a concept of the world being an entity that is out to get you. and it’s approved by the school board. teachers cringe when they are forced to teach a boring curriculum, but they seem to really revel in the idea of sending children out into the world with some feeling of enlightenment. especially when that is established through required reading. if those books were really the framework for free-thinking, wouldn’t they be illegal? required reading doesn’t really go hand in hand with anarchy, but teachers – to some degree – are escaping the norm. they have agreed to take a job that doesn’t make them a spoke in the wheel. summers free. they can travel. follow the dead. relax. it’s great. but when they are required to show up and fulfill their civic duties, they do so diligently ..except when it comes to assigning reading to the students. it’s a prisoner’s final wish they pass on to a younger inmate heading toward the prison’s walls. “i didn’t make it, but it’s not too late for you! read the count of monte cristo …and give me a 2 page report on what it means to you …and rebel, damnit!”