Looking through the home page on Ricochet tonight, I see great minds at work on everything from the enumerated powers, to Lebanon, military service, Mexico, the long term effects of the Tea Party, the Zadroga Act, Lady Kurobara's interesting question about whether government is inherently a liberal domain, and much more. Even the Sistine Chapel gets a review. So you will understand if I throw a small grenade into the midst of these weighty discussions and ask; Have you ever had one of those days when it seemed like someone had attached an "Annoy Me" sign to your backside, after which a significant number of people agreed to take up the calling? I mean, people were lining up to pass me on the highway today, move over in front of me and then slow down. It happened so often I began to suspect they had called ahead for reservations. My best friend Bob Lee once said, "Dave, the trouble with you is that you sometimes take life as a personal affront." Bob is like a brother to me, and he may be right, the twerp. But here, I'll present my story and you can decide.
After being snowed in last weekend, I made my way down to Laredo, TX. Now, Laredo is challenging enough with drivers from south of the border maneuvering their smoke-belching, rattle-trap semis like go carts all over town. Add to that mix a large dose of road construction and an already bad traffic situation becomes an absurdity. The crews directing traffic down there make The Three Stooges look like the Mensa Society. So for reasons of safety and sanity, I parked that night at a truck stop that charges money for parking. Then, finding a relatively quiet corner in the restaurant, I ordered a plate of "comfort food."
Dinner arrived at the same time as three very loud customers who, naturally, decided to sit at a table next to mine. Let's see, ...the trio consisted of a 20-something couple, and a large older fellow who I gather was the young lady's father. He played lead fiddle in the conversation and he must have been around 300 years old judging from all the experiences he's had, which experiences he narrated loudly enough for the benefit of everyone within a 15 mile radius, including the deaf. His specialty? The legal system in California. "Don't get me started," he said, as if anyone needed to. "I know evathang they is to know 'bout the California Pee-nile Code." Yes sir, court was in session and he was granting his own motions to enter anything and everything into the record. I began eating faster. As he went on at Tolstoyvian length about drunk driving laws, three strikes and you're grateful, whatever, I began replaying opera in my head as a defense. I was mentally playing it so loud that I practically had poor Pavarotti in an aneurysm, but he still couldn't overcome the California Pee-nile Code.
Scarfing down my comfort food, I left the restaurant and went straightway to my truck. After a half hour of quiet, I decided to venture back into the truck stop to see if they had anything I could purchase as a Christmas gift. Unless everyone on my list wants a miniature tractor trailer this year, the pickings will be slim. Remembering that these places have a good selection of flashlights, I wandered back to the tool selection. "Don't get me started!" I heard. Over by the flashlights stood the California Pee-nile Code, inflicting his wisdom on some hapless truckers whose only apparent offense might have been to say hello to him. They looked miserable, and I looked for the exit.
But it gets better. The next day in San Antonio, I decided to try my luck again. Another restaurant. Another secluded corner. I was reading the latest on Ricochet when I heard sleigh bells. Well, not quite. It was a fellow playing with the loose change and keys in his pocket. He was looking for a place to sit. And you, astute reader, know by now where he sat. Evidently, it's no small matter to get spare change and keys situated just right in one's pocket. I suspect it takes some folks the better part of a week to get it right. He's probably still working at it now. Even while sitting there, he was jingling his pocket. It was tough for the waitress to hear his order over the jingle. It was tough to hear anything over the jingle. While waiting on his order, he told the waitress he had to retrieve something from his truck. He began to walk out, and stopped right by my seat, hand deep in his pocket jingling to beat the band. He had a look of deep contemplation on his face, not unlike the look I used to get in algebra class while trying to determine the square root of a consonant. He also had a certain air about him, like he hadn't seen the business end of a shower spigot in a very long time. Thus was he able to assault multiple senses simultaneously.
My appetite gone, I began searching that truck stop for Christmas gifts (I hope everyone likes toy trucks). I heard the sleigh bells again, looked over and saw Mr. Bojingle walking in my direction. For the next several minutes, it seemed that everywhere I went in that place, he followed. When I went to the register to pay for my purchases, he cut in front of me. I half expected him to be waiting for me at my truck. I didn't leave the truck for the rest of the night.
There are many more stories, but you get the point. Obviously, these folks aren't out to annoy me, ...right? So is it that they are just annoying in general and it is my happy fortune to notice? Or is it that they really aren't particularly annoying, and I've just spent too much time secluded in a big rig? (No, says Bob, my issues predate trucking.) Am I less patient with age? Do you have many days like this? As I asked at the outset, are curmudgeons created over time, or are we simply born that way?