By Kenneth Justice
~ There are a lot of things I’ve done in life that I regret (I can hear friends from my youth snickering as they read that line), but there have been a couple moments in life where I did the right thing; and those times seem to stick with me.
A while back, in the course of a short span of time my friend was arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, fell into a coma and nearly died in a hospital bed, sued by two different people, and had his car ticketed and towed by a dastardly meter-man. In the flurry of all of the sh*t that was going on in his life, I was sitting at coffee with my friend one morning when we spotted the meter-man from hell approach his car once again.
“Let’s go beat the guy up” my friend said, ha wasn’t joking. Regardless of what people might think of me, I tend to be really empathetic toward the less fortunate; and my friend had suffered so much in such a short time that everything in me wanted to go outside with him to help him beat his frustrations away into the chest of the meter-man.
Of course, common sense and logic dictated my actions, so I restrained myself…..and my friend. I can’t go into more details but there are other things that this meter-man is guilty of and a lot of people I know think that a nice sound beating would help straighten the guy up. And to be honest with you, I really wanted to help my friend give the guy a good beating. Yet, just because we didn’t do it, I suppose I’m every bit of guilty for thinking about it….right?
—) Is this nothing more than the disgusting barbarism of men? That we would think giving a guy a nice pounding would help him?
—) Would our culture be better off if more compassionate women were heads-of-state since they might be less likely to beat people up in order to ‘help straiten them up’?
—) As more information comes out about the Bush Presidency, it appears that it was mainly men in high-ranking positions that supported and authorized torture of prisoners
It was with that mindset toward meter-men that I arrived to Philadelphia this past weekend. And who should be the first person I talk to on the street when I was dropped off downtown; a meter-man! Instantly, I could feel my blood pressure rise; I’ve simply begun to really hate meter-men, it’s an awful admission but it’s the god-honest-truth.
I was standing on the corner of Rittenhouse Square Saturday morning in Philly, not sure where to walk to or what to see as I wanted to get a feel for the area before I arrived at the coffee shop. I suppose I must have looked a little bit lost when the short pudgy meter-man smiled at me and asked me how I was doing.
I told him I had just arrived in downtown Philadelphia only moments before and wasn’t sure where to go or what to see; the meter-man’s eyes lit up. I suppose meter-men (and meter-women) are pretty much treated like sh*t on a daily basis. After all, does anyone ever go up to a meter-man and thank them for the parking ticket they just received?
Well, for whatever reason the meter-man was so excited to be talking to me that he began walking along side and leading me all around Rittenhouse Square…..and for the next 25 minutes he gave me a six block tour of the area, all while filling me in on the main places I should visit while in Philadelphia.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see passerby’s watching us. We were an unusual sight, me with my backpack (an obvious sign that I was a tourist) and the meter-man talking excitedly like a pimply faced Disney World tour guide on his first day running the boat in the Jungle Cruise.
Although a half-hour window of time may not seem like very long to the average person; for me it seemed like an eternity. I had built up so much unjust hostility toward meter-men that with every step we took I could feel my resentment dissipating; the meter-man’s tour of downtown Philadelphia was a form of unexpected therapy I never could have anticipated.
I’m not proud to admit that I harbor thoughts of beating people up. I suppose it merely betrays my own unfettered mind that too often wanders toward things I shouldn’t be thinking about. Western Culture often gets me down; there is so much about our society that seems out-of-whack that violent thoughts are too easy to start thinking.
On my way to coffee this morning NPR reported the story of an innocent man who tried helping a young boy on the street last week; he was beaten by an angry mob and is still on life-support in a medically induced coma.
Violent thoughts are permeating Western Culture. Frustration is at an all-time high. People in countries like Greece, the Ukraine, and the United States are mad. We are upset that the problems of life seem to be out of our control…..but the meter-man isn’t the enemy. I learned that this past weekend.
And for all those cars with expired meters that the meter-man skipped thanks to the little tour he gave me; I expect you to each send me a dollar as a thank-you.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning.
I will be in Madison, Wisconsin this Saturday! Come join me for coffee and let’s share stories!
Categories: Culture & Society