By Joe Darby
What was I thinking, indeed! I want to relate to you a couple of anecdotes that will cause me embarrassment but which I hope will provide you with a moment or two of amusement.
I know that all of you are “guilty” of one of these. The other, you probably have never done. But I have an old buddy, Bob, who has. As have I, of course.
The more common mental lapse probably occurs fairly frequently in our fair town, because it seems we have more than our share of power outages, even when the sun is shining and the wind is calm.
Of course I’m referring to the times when the electricity goes off and you walk into a darkened room to get a flashlight and turn the light switch on so that you can see better.
It instantly hits you — oh, wait. The power’s off and that’s why I’m looking for a flashlight in this darkened room in the first place.
And there’s a similar and related mental lapse. You may have tried to get cooler because the air conditioning is off too. You notice that with no power, the house growing warm so you try to turn on the ceiling fan to stir up some air. Then, uh-oh. That won’t work.
I have never actually tried to turn on the fan in that situation but I have found myself approaching the switch with the intention of doing so, before the reality of the situation caught up with me.
The second mental embarrassment, I’m sure, is rarer, but I’d be willing to bet that at least one or two of you readers out there have done it. I have. And, as I said, so has Bob.
I worked with Bob for more than 40 years at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Like me, he is now retired and a full-fledged geezer. We shared many adventures (and beers) together when we were young men, including a great vacation to Mexico City in 1966 We talked about that trip for years and still bring it up from time to time.
We visited the magnificent “lost city” of Teotihuacan, about 30 miles outside of Mexico City. A mysterious and isolated civilization created this place, with its majestic pyramids and other structures more than 1,000 years before the mighty Aztecs ruled the area.
And I’ll never forget the time that Bob and I were walking down a street in Mexico City and something had irritated me, so I hollered out “Viva Zachary Taylor and viva Winfield Scott.” Those were the two American generals who conquered Mexico in our war with that nation in the 1840s. Well Bob, who speaks Spanish did everything but put his hand over my mouth in order to shut me up. That was not the best judgment I had ever shown, I suppose.
Anyway, I digress. Let me get back to the goofy momentary loss of awareness of our surroundings that Bob and I both experienced, at different times and places, of course.
We were having a phone conversation a couple of years ago. I have no idea how the subject came up, but Bob recalled that he had once driven up to a stop sign, and like the good motorist he is, stopped. And then he waited And waited. It seems that subconsciously, Bob was waiting for the sign to change to “Go.”
Eventually, he “came to” and drove off. Well, I laughed at the story and then admitted that I had done the same thing. Right here in Natchitoches, just a few blocks from my house. Bob’s tale fitted what happened to me almost exactly. I do recall that when I became aware of what I was doing, I was very thankful that no one else was around and that I hadn’t caused a mini-traffic jam behind me. I got away with it that time.
I don’t know whether the cause of these driving incidents was that we are truly senior citizens, with all that that implies, or whether we are such brilliant old men that our sharp minds have other intriguing things to think about rather than driving off from a stop sign.
But come to think about it. Wouldn’t it be a really good idea if stop signs did in fact change to “Go” when no traffic was coming?