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Thursday, March 25, 2010

VIGILANCE






I drove to Sparta to pay some bills and get some groceries. Stopped in about everyplace I go in town. I enjoy going into different places and seeing people I know, talking a bit, friendly chats. Halsey Drug for drugs. Farmer's Hardware for a "lopper." That's long handled clippers. The ones before were in the truck when it burnt up. They were about worn out. I use them a lot, though I hadn't used them in some years since looking after Jr. I like to go through the woods and clip the lower dead branches from rhododendron, mountain laurel, various trees. I've found when I get the dead limbs on the ground it opens the woods immeasurably for easy and enjoyable walking, instead of getting snagged on branches and devil's clothesline briers. It's also moderate and easy exercise. The branches on the ground get covered by leaves in the fall and their decomposition begins. In a few years they're topsoil.




Bought a jack today for the car. One of those jacks on wheels and a handle to pump it up and down with. I had one of them in the truck when it went up in flames. It's the only kind of jack I like. They don't cost very much considering their value. I do not like any jack I've ever experienced that came with a vehicle. I looked at the one that came with this car and swore I'd never touch it. The jack on wheels is so easy to operate that it makes jacking up a car an enjoyment instead of a passage through hell. I'll get one of those cross bar lug nut removers. They're so easy and the single bent bar is so troublesome by comparison. They're only good for fights in movies. I've never had a flat in my parking space at home. I want something I can operate in the rain that doesn't drive me out of my mind, and gets the job done in a hurry. That's the Boy Scout in me. Be prepared.




I like to be ready for the unforeseen in the realm of what I'm able to take care of myself with a good jack, good jump cables, a spare tire with air in it. Nearly all the time nothin don't happen. And then it does. The way I see it, it's the nature of the material world. I was told once by a woman I know, who knew what she was talking about, that I was hyper-vigilant. I'm hyper aware of what's around me all the time. Walking on a sidewalk in a city I kept an eye on who was behind me in store window reflections. In Charleston in that time, in any time, surprises happen when you're not paying attention. Driving, I'm as much aware of what's going on in the mirror as in front. I drive on the highway and especially the interstate like anything can happen, because anything does happen.




Before seatbelts became a stiff fine, somebody would ask me from time to time why I use a seat belt. Are you afraid of dying? I say if I have to leave the road, and I have had those moments, it's bumpy, sometimes really bumpy. I like to be held in place to have control of the steering wheel and the pedals on the floor. I don't want to be flopping up and down wishing I could control the steering wheel. Chances are, where a wreck is concerned, without a seatbelt I more than likely would not die, but wish for the rest of my life I had. Certainly there are worst cases of people who were thrown from the car when they'd have died if a seatbelt held them in. But there are thousands and thousands more that came through something with a seatbelt unhurt, when without a seatbelt they'd have gone through a wall of glass face first.




I've questioned what she meant by that ever since. I don't think I am. But, what do I know? Can the mirror see itself? I've avoided a few accidents by seeing it coming up ahead and slowing down, backing away so I'm not collateral damage. Somebody else would have driven up into it. But I believe most people would not. But I don't know that. I don't know what's going on in any car but my own. Mine is the only one I can trust. The yellow line is the rule everybody goes by, but sometimes somebody doesn't. If I see it ahead coming my way in time, I can get out of the way. I like to pay attention while I drive and keep both hands on the wheel. I don't see that hyper. I see it simply sensible. Race drivers use both hands. There are reasons why. Good reasons. First, with both hands on the wheel I can react instantly. I don't get surprised a lot, but when I do, I'm glad to be paying attention. Perhaps the hyper could be that I'm always aware of what's going on around me. I find the exits first thing in a new place. I couldn't live in south Florida because there is only one highway out, it glutted to a stall by everybody else's car in south Florida. A pipe carrying fresh water to the Keys is too vulnerable a thing for me to subject my life to. I've never wanted to live on the beach.




The ocean has a life of its own and doesn't concern itself with property values on the beach. I'm not one who could live on an earthquake fault. I don't see any point in it. I'm like Tom Pruitt when watching tv news of a flood someplace in Missouri, I think, and a tv reporter asked a man whose house had washed away what he was going to do. He said he'd rebuild on the same spot. Tom about blew a gasket. A man building a house where his last house was washed away in a flood did not strike Tom as man with good sense. It continues to ring with me probably 25 years later among the most incredible things I've witnessed on tv. Tom and I both exclaimed together, the man didn't have a lick of sense. We probably weren't being politically correct making fun of a man's thinking after a flood washed his house away. We were both of the old way where PC was concerned. Dumber'n shit is dumber'n shit, any way you look at it. Of course, we don't want anybody to notice when we commit our own such moments, I don't know what I was thinkin.




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