Inspection- Thoughtlessness

As with all my columns, yes: I will get to how this applies to society, politics….

by Ken Carman

  I was in Cincinnati, just having worked with after schoolers and then left to head north. My annual 4th of July gig was waiting for me. I was frustrated because it took 4 hours to go 5 miles, the loop around Cinci being messed up royally. My trailer and I had been shoved off into narrow road nowhere-land along with thousands of other pissed off drivers. Perhaps I had more of a reason to be frustrated. I was towing a medium size flat bed with a scooter, generator, beer for beer tasting at my annual Beaver River Beer Tasting and… well just say I had, well, a hell of a lot of stuff. The trailer probably almost 1½ the length of the Honda Element.
  I stopped at a Speedway to get coffee: one right on a busy intersection. When I went to leave I decide to pull left and find a turn around so I wouldn’t have to pull right into a busy intersection. Young kid pulls to the left of me, blocks my vision, and revs his engine, car rocking back and forth. I can’t pull left because I can’t see and I certainly can’t drive over him.
  So I said, “what the hell,” and decided to turn into the intersection like him. I looked up: light’s green. I step on the gas to go and he takes off passing a few inches in front of my hood: a quick stomp on my brakes prevent what was almost unavoidable. He stops in front of me as if waiting to get hit, then takes off. Traffic coming up fast but enough time to pull out, so I step on the gas again and…
  Afterward the sheriff told me it turned yellow as I entered the intersection, then red as I passed under it. Last thing I saw it had been green. All I knew was the front of the Element was by the car in the turning lane and, beyond that, cars took off regardless off this Honda Element and trailer mid-intersection.
  Cars behind, cars in front, speeding by north and south at maniac speeds. I did the best I could with my turning lane car blocked vision and, as soon as possible, pulled through the homicidal intersection.
  Sheriff pulls me over…

  “Yeah, I screwed up, I know.”
  “Ya think? Don’t you know yellow doesn’t mean step on it?”
  (I explained.)
  “Oh… OH! Well then I’ll let you go, just be careful.”

  One of those scary, close: possible last moments in a life moments.
 I keep thinking back to the kid and his thoughtless actions that damn near could have killed me…
  Have you backed up in a parking lot like WalMart, Bass Pro, Target… (“Target?” How appropriate) …and while you’re in the middle of the aisle, backing up just a tad more so you’ll be able to turn and leave, some family walks by right behind you? Not paying a bit of attention. Or maybe another car drives by as if you weren’t there? Either not paying attention, or caring, or hoping to collect insurance if you hit them.
 Come to think of it all of that might apply in both situations.
  You know who will supposedly be “to blame” if you hit them, right?
 You know who is really to blame, right?
  What the hell is wrong with people?
  Do they teach defensive driving, or even defensive living, anymore? Or teach “watch in parking lots” or while crossing the road?
  Are they trying to get hit so they can collect insurance money? Seriously, there are scam artists out there: two cars, who will work as a team attempting to get you into accidents. One tailgates so close you speed up and some guy passes quickly, pulls in and stomps on his brakes. It’s an old scam. Or: entering an interstate, the car behind you crosses over the painted on divider (illegal), then blocks your way so you can barely get in while another pulls in quickly in front of you and hits his brakes.
  It was such a common occurrence in Nashville I learned to watch. I pullout almost at the same time. They don’t like it. They can’t do anything about it. I had the right of way.
 As my high school friend, Kevin Conway, used to say…

 ”Tough bananas Baby.”

  What you say, or do, to strangers hardly seems to matter anymore. Let’s not even get into what we say and do to our own relatives. I wonder, was Albert Einstein treated like he was five again by any siblings at family reunions?

 ”Still a good for nothing, slow, jerk, little Allie, eh?”

  Politics are the same: maybe worse. Over the years I can’t count the times someone I don’t even know lectures me, a stranger, about Bush, or Clinton, or Obama… I have no political stickers on my cars, I usually don’t open up political discussions with strangers, rarely with relatives. Despite being an off and on columnist since 1972, I feel it rude to treat others as captives to my rants, lectures, and presumptuous that anyone must be held hostage by such, kind of like verbal version of what Kathy Bates’ character did to her fav author.
  Though from time to time I secretly wish I could break their legs so I could get away from their self important, “I’m so superior, smarter and know better than folks who haven’t solved this issue for hundred (even thousands) of years,” rants.
  No, not really.
  Probably not.
  Uh… never mind.
  With texting, cell phones and everyone having their news based programs they watch or listen to: more like a long all you can eat buffet of mostly the same whacked opinions, we live in a culture that isolates us so much from each other we’re like madmen and women ranting at those we treat as less human than mannequins. This isolation, and prevalence of so much one sided media, can’t help but makes us more wrong rather than more right. And there seems to be some inverse relationship: the more some folks rant at others the more they’re just repeating self serving propaganda.
 And when was the last time one of these folks turned to you and said, “So what do you think?”
 Of course even if they did they’d probably just interrupt after a few words then go on with their rant.
 People today too often remind me of an incident I went through involving a couple, their kids and my truck, at rest stop just into Massachusetts on the Pike. After going in to go to the bathroom I went to my truck: stuffed with props so I can’t see directly behind… just the side mirrors. There was a couple walking far behind me in the parking lot with kids, carrying a picnic basket. I get into the truck, do a little paperwork, check my side mirrors and then start it up. Slowly I start to back up and I hear yelling. I stop, get out… and directly behind my small truck I see that the couple had spread a picnic out on top of the back of my truck.

 ”Sorry. I didn’t know you were there, I can’t see directly behind me. Well, I have to go now.”

 They nodded as if they understood. I get back in and think I hear them moving stuff off my truck. Look left, right, slowly start… and hear them yelling screaming, insults, again. I get out to see more stuff on the back of my truck. That’s when I solved it: I started acting crazier than them. I started acting crazier than them: yell, scream curses, act like I’m chasing them… they gather the kids, their stuff and run away.
 A lot of America these days reminds me of these “parents,” if we dare call them that. We are losing our ability to see the perspective of the other, care for the other, be considerate. We’re losing any vestige of common sense. It’s all being replaced by less real than Mickey Mouse cartoons: one dimensional stick figures posing as human… promoted by a “news” media that’s more partisan opinion than anything else.
 Barack Obama is a “weak, vacation all the time, indecisive president…” unless you want to use a different one dimensional image. Then switch to the “dictator” talking point hardly without taking a breath in your perpetual rant.
    But it’s less a right/left thing than a fault of expanding lines of multiple means of communications. Multiple means of communication” with no checks, no balances, no objectivity and a hell of a lot of uncivil, rude and judgmental behavior. So many “means” too damn many of us only see, only hear, what we prefer. Which, ironically, makes us the ones who are becoming more and more one dimensional, not necessarily those we rant about.
  The better our communicative tools get seems the less we actually communicate, the more thoughtless we become.
  Not so long ago a girl was texting her parents how much she cared when she drove off the road and over a cliff. That’s what our society is becoming, only I’m guessing some of us would still try to bumper car push others out of the way on the way down.

                                                     -30-

Inspection is a column that has been written by Ken Carman for over 30 years. Inspection is dedicated to looking at odd angles, under all the rocks and into the unseen cracks and crevasses that constitute the issues and philosophical constructs of our day: places few think, or even dare, to venture.

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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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