LISTEN TO JIM: http://jimreedbooks.com/mp3/riseofthedrinkmachines.mp3
OR READ ON…
Regarding the disregarded is my job as a writer, my task as a teller of stories.
It’s easy to notice the obvious, and there are plenty of other folks whose job that is.
But paying attention to the invisible, looking between the cracks, examining the interstices, walking backward in a forward-motion crowd, even describing things so obvious that they’ve become obscure…that’s my job.
1. The looming electronic soft-drink machine flashes its message: EXACT CHANGE ONLY. Only, what the exact change should be is not posted, leaving the caffeine addict no choice but to pour money in until something—or nothing—happens.
2. The parking meter asks for quarters, but nothing happens when a quarter is inserted, leaving the visitor no choice but to pour more quarters in, just in case this magically fixes the problem.
3. The flashing yellow light at a busy intersection totally confounds most motorists. Does yellow mean stop, does it mean speed up, does it act as a four-way stop, does the other driver know the same set of rules that you know? Most of us simply look both ways, make a wish and take the Acceleration of Faith, hoping that irresistible objects don’t suddenly meet and mess with the laws of physics. Either way, the light never stops communicating its uncommunicative message: YELLOWFLASH YELLOWFLASH YELLOWFLASH
4. The elevator light doesn’t come on when you punch it, leaving you no choice to punch it again and again, just in case it didn’t get the message the first time. Then, another pedestrian arrives and starts punching, too. The elevator disregards us all and operates exactly as it is designed to. It’s the elevator’s world, we just live in it. And obey.
5. The fast-food clerk has done her job so many times, she no longer feels the need to speak. Her economy of movement dictates that she simply sit there staring at me, slightly raising an eyebrow as if to say, “Come on, speak up. I don’t have all day.” I am amused and decide to play the game. I stare silently at her and raise an eyebrow, too. She doesn’t respond. Finally, I say, “Welcome to MacDonald’s, may I take your order, please?” She snaps out of her contempt, acts confused, then decides to take my order. She never knew what hit her.
6. The city employees I most admire are the trash and garbage collectors. They do their jobs like clockwork, exposing themselves to every manner of germ and fragrance and dangerous object, come rain, drought, storm or darkness. They cannot possibly be paid enough, and certainly should make more than city leaders…about as much as surgeons. The only thing I have to do as a citizen is obey their rules, which are sometimes obscure. I obey because I don’t want them to fail to pick up my detritus.
7. The city’s signage programs are useless because graffiti artists and taggers have obliterated virtually every signal that should be visible. Walls and fences are filled with their symbols. I feel sorry for them and have no respect for their misguided efforts—their work would indeed be deemed ART if it weren’t for the fact that said work is basically vandalism, destruction of property, trespassing, and sometimes ugly. They produce art without permission of the property-owners. While they are occupied doing their best—and worst—at 3 a.m. in the abandoned city, I would like to enter their abodes and spray-paint everything they cherish with images of my own design. Would they like coming home at sunrise to find caricatures of Billy Graham and Pee Wee Herman and Police Chief Roper covering all they see? Just an idea.
Regarding the disregardable is a gift and a curse. Disregarding the all-too-obvious is next best. Forgetting the unforgettable, always remembering the forgettable…that’s what we writers do. I hope we have your sympathy…even if we don’t, we still have one shared secret that keeps us going:
This kind of life is sooo entertaining.
Get yourself a pencil and you can live it, too
(c) 2012 A.D. by Jim Reed