Commute

Commute: (v) to travel some distance between one’s home and place of work on a regular basis.

Sitting around the room at a party last night with a bunch of friends and family, a young man piped up and said, “I evaluate people on whether they voted for this President. If they did I know they’re stupid.”

Well, truthfully, this article could be read forty years from now and it would still apply to someone who felt that way because “their” person did not make the White House.

I did not condemn the young man for his judgmental attitude. I didn’t try to convince him that he was wrong.funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

I did explain to him that he didn’t understand the mindset, simplicity and utter joy of small-town people all over America–who don’t have to commute an hour-and-a-half to go to work.

If they want a loaf of bread, they climb into their truck, drive down to the local market, where they spend much more time jabbering with their neighbors than getting their purchase. The trip back home takes no more than two minutes. There are no frayed nerves from traffic jams. There are no attitudes that the human race is full of assholes because they got cut off at the one stoplight in town.

It is much easier for them to be genteel.

But it’s also easier for them to be suspicious of the “big city ideas” trying to come in and take over.

When you live in a city where there’s a commute, you, yourself, develop a different pathway to sanity.

You may be more defensive.

You may be more interested in the government taking over matters of social order, since you don’t grow your own corn and soybeans.

You are not worse than the man or woman who lives in Iowa and only needs five minutes to get to their job or their barn.

You’re just different. Your perspective varies from theirs.

Wise is the soul who understands the simplicity of the village folk, and the struggle of those who commute.

 

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Billiards

Billiards:(n) a game usually for two people, played on a billiard table

Dictionary B

I grew up in a small village that was close enough to a nearby larger town to make all of the young folks feel out-of-step and inadequate.

We had to go to the bigger city to be entertained or to absorb any available culture that might accidentally trip through mid-state.

So when we drove our cars in the direction of the nearby metropolis, we felt a combination of empowerment mingled with humiliation. We certainly were convinced that everyone in the larger burg was aware that we came from smaller digs and therefore lacked the social graces to be able to hold our own with the natives.

But we went anyway. It was the nearest bowling alley.

Bowling was very important. It gave you a safe, cheap way to go on a date, where conversation could be channeled into laughter over the lack of ability to roll a ball down an alley.

Now, in the back of this bowling alley was a small pool hall. It was a new addition, and some of the young folk from our town were a little bit afraid of going to play this game of billiards because it was associated with lower-class or “hoodlum elements.”

So I had great trepidation the first time I went into the billiard section of the bowling alley, picked up a stick and tried to hit the cue ball.

Yet I quickly became addicted.

Matter of fact, almost every weekend I went to play billiards, which we called pool, with my friends, until we thought we had become so good that we believed we could actually compete with other “stickers.” (That’s what we called them, even though I’m sure no one else did.)

One night five guys from the big town came in, saw us playing, and challenged us to a tournament, the winner to take ten dollars.

We were gambling. We felt so grown-up. And ten dollars was all any of us would have for the next two weeks.

But we were confident. After all, we had already played two months worth of Saturday nights.

We lost.

Miserably, horribly and ferociously, as balls banged into each other, going in all directions, causing our heads to spin, eventually exposing our choke factor.

We left.

We were ten dollars poorer and more certain than ever before that “small-town Johnnies” need to be careful when playing with big-town bullies.

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Ballboy

Ballboy: (n) a boy who retrieves balls that go out of play during a game such as tennis or baseballDictionary B

I grew up in a village which was about 20 miles from a big city.

Even though we insisted that we were an autonomous population. we privately knew that we had to go 20 miles to actually be entertained or purchase clothes that were not second-hand.

Every once in a while, the big city would invade our little burg with a possibility. This happened when I was ten years old.

The minor league baseball team which headquartered in the big city decided to bless the neighboring burrows with an opportunity–to let one of the favorite sons be a ballboy for one night at the park.

It was a big deal.

You got to go to the game, put on a uniform and run out and chase balls that went awry, or give bats to the superstars.

So they further made a big deal of it by holding an audition to select the ballboy, which drew a crowd of about 45 kids between the ages of ten and twelve.

I was one of them.

Even though I did not like baseball very well, I was fairly athletic and certainly competitive. So at the end of fielding flies, chasing balls, and even some opportunity to use the bat, the committee selected me to be the ball boy for this game.

I had never won anything in my life expect the privilege of being born.

My skin was tingling, my head was swimming and the rest of me just wanted to pee.

So they took me into a room and pulled out the uniform I was to wear for the game and asked me to try it on.

It didn’t fit. Not even close.

I was chubby, which is what my parents called it, and everybody else knew to be fat.

I tried hard to fit into that uniform. I said that by next week I could lose some weight. But reluctantly, they awarded the opportunity to the boy who came in second place. Even though he had less ability, he also had less blubber.

I was shocked.

I was devastated.

And on top of that, I heard a giggle or two from the gallery, causing me to feel humiliation.

Until I sat down and wrote this essay today, I did not realize that I still had remnants of feelings about the injustice. Here’s an idea–one we might want to use in the future, even when electing our leaders:

Let’s find the best person for the job, and then pick the outfit.

 

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