Friday, January 16, 2015

The Wrong Time for Silence

Lunch is ready. Breakfast is ....

I have nothing for you. Nothing. Sometimes when I have nothing to say, I close my eyes and type and something comes out. Usually, that means a lot of spelling errors but I always come up with something. I'm just one of those people. Blah, blah, blah. I can go on and on and on. Let's see what happens today.

So, my eyes are closed. Dr. Who music is singing through my head. I know I've been watching too much Dr. Who when the theme song rings through my head in the morning without being prompted. I suffer ear worms. Always. It's one musical track or another. It can be a blessing because my life has a sound track. It can also be a curse. I'm very susceptible to 'La Cucaracha' and 'It's as Small World After All.' Torture. Apparently, I'm a sucker for the Dr. Who theme song too. That's not so bad, actually.

I'm on the fifth season of Dr. Who. I had to look up the seasons on the Internet because there was this crazy jump to a new doctor. If he's not taking somebody's body, how does that work exactly? I miss David Tanner. He seemed more vulnerable than this new guy. I really wanted the David Tanner Dr. Who to have someone. I liked Donna, even though they weren't, you know.

I've been watching too much Dr. Who.

I've also been too social lately. Yesterday, in the name of writing, I went to Barnes and Noble with a friend. There, we wandered the shelves, looked at titles and ate a bunch of snacks and coffee at the Starbucks in back. We tried to make up stories for the people walking by. One guy looked suspicious to me, as if he'd just broken into a car and took a new iPad and a receipt for Best Buy, getting the money for a purchase he never made. It's not really fair, is it, to make up nasty stories about a man just because he's wearing a hat I don't like. Does it do damage? Is it wrong to put those annoyingly loud people at the coffee shop into my stories as the people who have bad things happen to them?

Does talking about writing make you a writer? If I talk about it long enough, then surely it's me, right? Is that the secret? Will a book appear if I talk loud and long enough? My friend and I talked for hours. I accomplished nothing yesterday. Not a damned thing, except in my imagination.

When my friend dropped me off, she had to stay for a bit because there was an accident in front of my house on the highway and her car got blocked in, first by the tow truck, and then by the police car. The woman sitting on the ground next to the car said that she got a wheel off the road. She said that one minute, she was headed toward an oncoming car and she spun her car in the other direction, overcompensating, spun, and hit the tree instead. The men who had stopped to help her were kind. I wanted to ask them if they were Eagle Scouts. One guy even said it was okay for her to cry if she needed to and hugged her when she did. He probably averted a good case of shock when he did that. Why don't I get people like that when I get hit by a car?

Once, I got clipped by a car on I-90 going sixty miles an hour. That guy got out of his car and banged it on my window as he screamed. He was not right, if you know what I mean. He was altered somehow. Another time, I got rear-ended by a Dominos pizza truck when I stopped first to make a right on a red light. (There was a police care driving through the intersection at the time.) Even though we had to wait forty-five minutes for the next police car to arrive, the guy wouldn't give me a slice of pizza. He kept trying to tell me it was my fault that I had stopped in front of him and that's why he hit me. My brother used to make arguments like that. "If I'm swinging my arm like this and walking forward, it's not my fault that you get punched in the jaw when you get in my way." The woman sitting on the ground tried to make it sound as though she'd just saved some people's lives by the way she handled what happened. Well, yes, but you did start off somehow in the lane with the oncoming car, I thought. I didn't say it. I wanted to say it, but the men there were being so kind. Who was I to rub some reality into her shocked mind?

I wonder if my tree hurts today. She hit one of those two hundred year old Western Red Cedar trees that stands around my house. The impact would have seriously hurt someone in the passenger seat behind her had there been someone there. The door was all crunch in. This woman was probably injured, but she didn't feel it yet. My tree probably hurt too. I love those trees. I have volunteer baby Western Red Cedars growing in pots I've left too long on my back deck. I'm letting them grow a little longer before I transfer them into the ground where they'll have to compete with other plants and possibly overcompensating cars. I was mad at that woman for hitting my tree. Even though it's not on my property, this tree is tall enough to take out my house if it falls and besides, no one across the road has claimed it. That makes it my tree, doesn't it? Okay, not technically, but in my head, it's my tree. Or maybe I'm it's person.

Later, when my driveway was still blocked first, by the tow truck and then by a police car, my friend and I walked down to get my mail. Okay, we were gawkers. I could have gotten my mail later. I could have. But I didn't. I wanted to thank the police officer, but I got my mail and stayed out of the way. He made brief eye contact. He was busy directing traffic, so I didn't say anything. I didn't need to bother him, really. I was a little ashamed at my gawking. I wish I had spoken to him.

Then, the woman who had been sitting on the ground stomped over to us and began chatting as if we were old friends. Sometimes it's better when people keep their mouths shut.

"You know, I've learned something today," she said. Oh, I thought, maybe she would admit that she hadn't been paying attention to the road. "I've learned that I should never call the police. I should have called AAA and they would have handled all this for free." She waved her arm toward her crunched car. The tow truck was trying to move it forward to get it off the road and the wheels weren't tracking properly. That thing was totalled.

"I should have called AAA instead of the police," she repeated. A bit of spittle flung off her bottom lip and hit my jacket. "That guy just gave me a hundred and thirty-five dollar ticket for reckless driving," she said. I don't think her voice was quiet enough against the grinding of her wheels behind the tow truck, so I was sure the officer could hear her. I looked over her shoulder in his direction. He waved a few more cars past the tow truck while holding his hand out to restrain the ones going in the other direction. I tried to give him one of those sympathy smiles. He didn't make eye contact.

I can't believe myself.

Finally, I had the proper place for my big mouth. My ideas could spill out unmolested. I didn't know this woman. I didn't need to protect her fragile feelings. I wanted to yell out a thank you to the officer for his work. I wanted to tell her that the ticket was a very cheap lesson in paying attention while she drives. I wanted to tell her that the disruption she'd caused probably cost much more than the ticket did. I wanted to tell her to keep off my highway. I wanted to yell at her for hurting my tree, even as it stood stoically behind her. I wanted her to learn a lesson, a real lesson about consequences.

And yet, I stood there, completely dumbfounded at her indignation. I just could not say a word.

I feel like I owe that police officer an apology.

Thank you for listening, jb

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