Road Rage Throughout the Ages
We tend to think of road rage as being a recent phenomena. It's certainly more common nowadays, but I believe it has been around for centuries.
There surely would have been chariot rage on the Roman roads. There were simply too many chariots not to have had an incident where one chariot cut off another, or one was going far too slow. After all, it's well-documented that "the finger" has been around for centuries. Where else would it have been invented?
But the concept seems funniest to me on the high seas.
"Hey, Columbus! Get your damn caravel out of the harbor! Could you sail that thing any slower? Admiral of the Ocean Sea, my ass!"
Of course, Columbus no doubt followed the heckler for a few miles before blasting a cannon at him. Sea rage at its finest.
Cutting Down On Air Travel Complaints
In each airport, seemingly collecting dust, are small metal frames that show the correct dimensions for carry-on bags. I personally have never seen anyone (especially airline employees) use them to measure bags.
Much of the annoying aspects of airline travel center around the carry-on bag, and the side effects of the rules not being enforced. The poor people who are boarding last are pretty much resigned to checking their bag, even if their bag is the size of a change purse, because some other lout is hogging more than the allotted space.
Then there's the whole process of getting on the plane. You invariably stand in the aisle as someone attempts to defy the laws of physics to cram their pet elephant into the overhead compartment.
I have a simple solution: The Carry-on Cutter.
The small metal frames come equipped with saw blades that hack off anything that doesn't fit inside. If you don't submit your bag to the cutter, you have to check it. Maybe then people would realize that they didn't need 16 changes of clothes for their weekend trip, or that your relatives really don't care about whatever ridiculous junk you're toting back for them.
Back in the days when I used to use cash to pay for nearly everything, one of my favorite things to do was to inspect the change I'd receive.
I had to make a cursory check to ensure that I didn't get a wheat penny or a silver quarter or nickel back. Then there were those times that I would get something totally unexpected, such as a $2 bill or 50-cent piece. Can you recall the last time you got a 50-cent piece as change? I surely can't, but it has to be at least 10+ years for me since I've even seen one, let alone had one in my possession.
Then there's that strange feeling, like you're doing something wrong, when you spend a $2 bill. Like you're letting it down by not collecting it. The clerk always raises an eyebrow, waiting for you to change your mind and withdraw the bill before it's too late. Or perhaps it is that sense that you're desperate for cash and this is all you got left (which has always been true in my case).
Either way, I don't run across them all that much these days, and I kind of miss seeing the old-fashioned design of the $2 bill and the awkward hugeness of the 50-cent piece.
Honest Abe in a Sweet Ride
Every so often, I'll get a funny image in my head of something that is totally off the wall. Being a writer, I try my best to figure out ways to develop it into a story.
One such image occurred the other day, when I randomly thought about Abraham Lincoln parked outside the U.S. Capitol in a shiny red corvette, with the top down and his arm slung over the seat. He was wearing his top hat and smiling.
Nothing would make me happier than to figure out how to mold this image into a story. My problem is that I like plausible, especially when it comes to historical figures. I need to loosen up a little, I suppose, since anachronisms can be hilarious. Like how about a series of emails between email@example.com and HRHGeorge3@gmail.uk?
Alas, these are as far as I will likely ever get with these. Still, wouldn't you love to cruise the town with Abe in a sports car?
The Floating Heads of Wheel of Fortune
I find it terribly frustrating to recall something that I feel like should be part of the fabric of nostalgic pop culture and no one else remembers it. I am still looking for someone else that remembers the floating heads from Wheel of Fortune.
Way back when, Wheel of Fortune didn't give out cash for solving the puzzles, you got money to spend on the prizes they had in this showroom. There would be a segment, immediately after solving a puzzle, where the person's head would sort of float on part of the screen while the camera panned to the prize the person picked.
How come no one else remembers this? Did I imagine it, or is it so embarrassing that Wheel of Fortune is trying to hide it from our collective memories (as is the case with the holiday special with characters from a certain intergalactic conflict)?
I really do not enjoy shopping. I want to grab the things that I need and get out of the store. I don't want to browse, chatter or otherwise waste any more time than is necessary in the store.
This is clearly not a secret about me, because for years, legions of clueless old ladies are dispatched to the store to coincide with my shopping trips. They're positioned at key locations that I'm likely to visit. Once in position, they stand, oblivious to the entire world around them for inordinate amounts of time.
They ponder the font on the label of the potato chip bag; they look for their brand of canned corn when I swear all of the corn is grown on the same farm; they park their carts and study each and every single molecule that forms the sheet of paper that their grocery list is written upon -- all in front of the exact thing I need. Each and every single time.
I've tried everything to budge them: feigning tuberculosis, executing them in medieval fashion with my glare, wedging myself between them and my desperately needed product in the rudest way imaginable to get what I need. It doesn't discourage them, they multiply and spread out.
I promise that you can live out your days in front of the spaghetti sauce, just please move for a moment so I grab a jar and get out of this horrid place.
There's a secret battle being waged across America, by parents of school-aged children. It's fought on holidays, such as Halloween or Christmas, and on birthdays. The weapons are cute little bows, tied decoratively around treat bags, ghosts made with edible eyeballs and marshmallows. The prize is the title of the parents who are best at Pinterest.
The planning process begins weeks in advance, scouring boards and pins for the perfect, unique treat. Then you have to go about modifying it in some way to make it look like you didn't straight-up copy it from Pinterest. Of course, in the end the children don't really care if the candy canes are arranged to look like an old-fashioned sled, they just want the candy.
The problem that I have always struggled with is that there's no real payoff for winning the prize. You sit and meticulously twist pipe cleaners into pilgrim hats, the kids throw them away, the other parents simply retreat to the war room to plan how to one-up you for the next holiday. The only clear winner I see is Pinterest, who is all too happy to provide the battlefield (and craft stores who saturate the site with ads). It's a far cry from the days when I was in school, and you'd bring a bag of lollipops to hand out to the class.
Everyone has their "go to" candy bar, the one that's their favorite. Mine is a Kit Kat. I can count on enjoying a Kit Kat almost any time that I'm presented with one.
But every once in awhile, I'll stray outside my comfort zone and try to find something different. There are plenty of options to choose from: Twix, 3 Musketeers, Snickers, good old-fashioned M&Ms. My eyes always catch one of the more bizarre candy bars on the shelf, I confess I've never seen one purchased let alone someone who professes an undying dedication to it as their favorite candy bar. I'll pause here as you think of the weirdest candy bar on the shelf.
For me, it's the gray wrapper emblazoned with the blue-and-white type that says "Zero". Where do all of the people who like these things live? I can only assume that the population of Zero lovers is evenly distributed, but I've never once witnessed one being purchased. Does it have a fan club?
Come to think of it, I've never seen an advertisement for one either. Do the people working at the Zero division of the candy's manufacturer feel slighted? Who invented it? Is he rich? Universally despised for trying to convince the world that white chocolate is indeed palatable? Are people persecuted for their love of the Zero and hence only buy them in the middle of the night at out-of-the-way gas stations? And who, really, thought up the name? Was someone else already making "This Candy Sounds Gross" bars?
So I'm sounding an open call to all you Zero lovers out there: I have to know your story, where you come from and what catastrophic event in your life drove into the arms of such a wicked candy.
A Trip Along The Trail
Someday I'm going to have to traverse the route of the Oregon Trail.
You see, along those wagon ruts near Fort Hall or the Blue Mountains and Chimney Rock, I've laid to rest some dear friends and family. I owe them all an apology.
If only I had realized just how deadly cholera, dysentery and typhoid fever were, I would have fed you more than your meager rations. I wouldn't have kept such a grueling pace. I would have spent more time with all of you and less time hunting. (Though I would have appreciated if at least one or two of you had come along to carry meat from time to time.)
I regret trying to ford the river when it was 9.3 feet deep, it seemed like a good idea at the time. Next time I'll trade a wagon tongue to hire the guide. I draw the line at the Barlow Toll Road though, it's still a rip off.
Insert Disk 2 into Drive A: to read the rest of this thought.
My brain is a curious thing. It bounces from place to place, from the exceedingly strange to the terribly mundane. Every once in awhile, something will pop into my head that is just completely out of nowhere. Totally random.