By Gene Weingarten
Sunday, July 26, 2009
Don't you hate it when the driver in front of you does something boneheaded? But don't you hate it even more when you do something boneheaded and the driver behind you won't let you forget it? You know you screwed up; you don't need the services of the tsk-tsk squad.
I got a major tsk-ing the other day when I started to switch lanes without sufficient reconnaissance. The guy I was cutting off quickly hit his horn, and I swerved back before any damage was done. Though I meekly ducked my head and raised a palm in the universal semaphore for "Sorry, idiot here," this was evidently not enough penance. The other driver leaned on his horn for five full seconds as he slowly passed by, giving me the stink-eye scowl the whole time.
The real story is what happened next. Because he had taken it upon himself to personally inform me of my rancid worthlessness, the guy failed to notice an orange traffic cone dead ahead, which he plowed right into. It got dragged under his car, where it apparently severed his muffler. The last I saw of him, in my rearview mirror, he was pulling to a stop on the shoulder, with sparks flying.
Now, I do not consider myself a vindictive person. I know this should not have been an occasion for jubilation, and I definitely felt a little sorry for the guy once I had wiped all the tears and drool away.
I know what you are thinking. You are thinking: "Why doesn't that sort of stuff ever happen to me?" The answer is that God loves me more than he loves you. The evidence is everywhere.
For example, God gave me Karl. Karl is a friend of mine who once did something really stupid in public. So any time I do something really stupid in public -- such as the time I spent three sputtering minutes trying to get an ATM to accept my card, only to be informed by the person behind me that I was giving it my dental-plan card -- I am able to cheerfully lessen the embarrassment through redirection: "Well, I have a friend, Karl, who once accidentally slammed his own head in a car door!"
God also sees to it that I lose my wallet every few months, but only for about half an hour. Then He makes it turn up in places such as behind the toilet, or between the brake pedal and the clutch, or in the washing machine. The point is, every few months He forces me to confront the nightmarish specifics that would accompany the loss of one's wallet, keeping this dreaded scenario always fresh in my mind, which means that I will probably never actually lose my wallet.
God also gave me a dog who wants to sleep 22 hours a day but play with me like a slaphappy lunatic the other two. This is the perfect dog metabolism.
God gave me an incapacity to understand matters of finance or economics. This incapacity is so profound that I didn't suffer any real anxiety during the past year as the economy went straight into the toilet faster than a third pitcher of beer. Like you, I lost plenty of money, but unlike you -- gifted as I am with the same sort of blissful ignorance that God gives the stinkbug so he never realizes he is a stinkbug -- it just never got to me.
And lastly, I am blessed with an ability to ignore denunciations, which is a very important attribute for a columnist. It makes me impervious to criticism, the sort of criticism I might get for cynically using the concept of a deity that I don't really believe in as a cheap construct around which to base a column.
Well, you can yell all you like. I don't care. I've got a thick skin. God gave it to me.
Gene Weingarten can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.