Monday, July 28, 2014
Those of you who know me know that I am an uncle, not a parent, and I do not take that duty lightly. From my actual nieces and nephews, like the eleventy-foot tall Payton and the sweetest child in all of Hawaii, Hannah, and the most ardent Saints fan west of the Mississippi River, Tanner. Hannah was recently given the Golden Heart Award by her classmates in sixth grade for being the most loving and compassionate person in her grade. Those who knew me when I was a student at Tylertown High may remember that I was voted Most Polite. For those of you who just started laughing, you’re just being rude, but I totally get it. Now, I don’t know if there was some sort of conspiracy afoot, like when everybody kept voting for Sanjaya on American Idol, but I accepted the accolade. To turn it down would have been…impolite.
I also have a not-really-niece whom I adore, a precocious displaced Texan named Pearson Mary Eckrich, who has been taken by her handle-bar-mustachioed father to the wilds of Upstate New York. And I only mention any of these sweet kiddoes because I am at a loss to explain how so many parents have supposedly accidentally left their children to die in a hot car. I simply do not get it. And I find, when you are about to pass judgment on someone, it’s good to give context. And I am about to pass judgment all up and through here.
Now I admit that I have done some crazy things in vehicles. Some I cotton to and some I refuse to admit due to my lack of knowledge of statute of limitations in all 50 states. But I can tell you that if I were transporting a PERSON, fruit of my loins or otherwise, I would remember they were there regardless of events that unfolded. For example, if I were to visit the Eckrichs in New York and volunteer to drive Pearson to pre-school, I would not forget she was in the back seat even if Benedict Cumberbatch were to land on the hood of my car wearing Incredible Hulk Underoos, holding a koala bear in one hand and a copy of my book in the other. And I am most certainly placing blame on any parent so pre-occupied with anything as to forget their child for the length of time it takes to die in a car.
Based on what the media has stated, that one guy was focused on Olympic level nastiness through texts, which was surprising considering he wasn’t even remotely attractive. Other cases have other reasons; however, it seems to me that this forgetfulness is a by-product of the ludicrous level of self-centeredness that has overtaken our society. We don’t look at each other anymore. We don’t talk to each other anymore. All we do is look at those blasted phones. All day. Every day.
And don’t get me wrong, I look at my phone too. But not while entering or exiting my car. Anyone who is my Facebook friend, and some have stated they will only accept my friend request when I stop posting pictures of my injured feet, knows that as agile I once was, I have somehow become less mountain goat and more fainting goat, in respect to agility, mind you. I need to be focused on the getting in and the getting out of my car in a manner conducive to allowing the optimal view of each of my fantastic outfits. My public have expectations, y’all. True story.
We simply don’t pay attention to each other anymore and that’s what’s wrong with this country. We have our prejudices and our preconceived notions and since we aren’t really up to meeting new people in person, we don’t have the opportunity to hear other opinions or exchange ideas. We simply find those with whom we agree and then we post all manner of opinion and dare someone to disagree. And I’m aware that when I’m pointing one finger at you, I’ve got three pointing at me (hearing my Mother’s voice in my head) but we all need to pay more attention to the world around us.
And, yes, I see the irony in telling someone to get off Facebook in a blog that is mostly shared through Facebook, but it doesn’t mean that my opinion isn’t valid. Start caring about those around you by actually looking at and talking to them and listening to them and having really great conversations that don’t devolve into shouting matches. A rigorous debate is a great thing.
I recently attended a wedding in Scotland and while there, a number of us retired to the library of the castle where the event took place to escape the riotous volume of the dance band and because we were tired. English weddings last all day and night, people. It is just like “Four Weddings and a Funeral”. And I’ll be the first to admit that the main reason we were feeling chatty was due to poor cell phone reception since wi-fi strength in rural Scotland is about how you would expect. But we made friends and disagreed and heard extremely unique points of view considering there were an anthropologist, performance artist and government bureaucrats among us. And it was wonderful and enlightening.
And if starring in the mini movie that continually runs through my head has taught me anything it’s that you can create your own reality any way you want, but you might want to see what’s out there before you made your decision. If I had culled my reality from my time before I left Mississippi in my early 30s, I would still be driving a purple Buick, wearing fashions from Dillard’s Big and Tall Collection and thinking Brooks Brothers was people I may or may not have gone to school with in Texas whose last name was Brooks. And nobody needs that, am I right?
And to circle on back to my original thought and just to make sure you don’t ever forget anyone simply ask the question, “Anybody up in here?” before you exit your car. But keep in mind if the response is in an adult’s voice, you need to run like you are being chased, because odds are you’re about to be.
And that is all I’m saying.