I have to admit, I was feeling down this past week.
Part of it’s the weather. Which is funny because I’m from a place where, sometime in the next few weeks, it will be way below zero, there will be visibility of a few feet, the snow will be halfway up the storm door, and it will take an hour to chip the ice off your windshield if you weren’t savvy enough to find some inside place to park it overnight.
So what’s my problem with the weather here? I mean, I go out in the morning and pick a tangerine off the little tree in the front yard as I pick up my paper ... and at the worst I have to spend half a minute squeegeeing (is that a weird word, or what?) the dew off my windshield.
It’s sunlight, I suppose. Need more of that, less fog.
But it’s the weirdness, mostly. I’m a newsman, but have to admit the news can get me down sometimes... the number of COVID deaths and all; and what’s happening in the seat of our national government. As well as the guy that passed me on the bridge and flipped me off because I was driving like an old man ... I’m not that old, dammit (AND STAY OFF MY LAWN).
I’ve got to make sure I remind myself that still, overwhelmingly, most people are normal. And normal is good.
Almost all the people I know and appreciate are normal (proving opposites attract ... go ahead). The normal people, who comprise the vast majority of people around here, are not seriously acting out. They’re upset about there being so many poor people in the community ... so they gather up food and gifts and donate money and help them out. They hate that some people are slobs and litter up the countryside ... so they organize and go out and clean sites up (and it’s not even their property!).
They’re not out and about constantly hunting for something to be indignant about. They don’t spend hours on social media looking for ways to one up someone they’ve been holding a grudge against for something they got indignant about some time back whenever. They don’t spend a lot of time publicly vetting everyone’s politics to make sure they don’t become friends with someone who wouldn’t agree with them on everything.
So much of the news (mostly I’m talking national news) boils down to characters who play out some of those traits – constant indignation, one-upmanship, publicly vetting perceived foes ... it’s just good to remind yourself that there are normal people doing normal things and you don’t even have to know their politics.
Today, driving to work in the morning, I saw something on a Marysville street. I’m not even sure what it was or what it signifies, but it made me feel better. I have no idea why it made me feel better.
There was an old lady and a little dog coming my way. They were healthy -- she was ambulating well, and the dog was chubby and happy. She was wearing a black wrap and it set off her gray hair. She was concentrating on moving along without being pulled over by the happy, chubby pooch.
In the other direction, a young man in running shorts and T-shirt and shoes was on his morning run – a 20- or 30-something who stays in good shape, jogging along at a good clip, with no concept still of old age.
At just the right moment, he hopped over into the street, politely giving her the sidewalk. He barely swiveled his head and nodded at her, and she barely broke concentrating on hanging on to the dog.
And the dog was as happy to see the jogger as he was to pull ahead the second the jogger was past.
The yin, the yang and the happy dog in between. I’m still seeing that scene in my head. I still don’t know what it means, but it makes me feel better.
And I’ll tell you something else that made me feel better. As we were working Thursday afternoon on the Friday edition of the paper, juggling around all the big news from the Capitol and other serious stuff from around our own community, I got an email from Bob Harlan about the Toys for Tots drive just past.
I put it at the top and side of A1. Because I can. Was there something more weighty that could have gone there ... probably. But the lighter news balanced out the page. They helped get toys and stuff to 2,313 kids in Yuba-Sutter – 4,343 gifts, 432 books and 2,356 stocking stuffers!
Thanks, all you normal people. Good job.
Ugh: A retiree was driving down the interstate when his cell phone buzzed. It was his wife: Vernon, I just heard on the news there’s a car going the wrong way on the interstate. Be careful.”
“Hell,” says Vernon, “it’s not just one car, it’s hundreds of them.”