While day-dreaming, walking up a shady city street the other afternoon I caught sight of a chunky man with a twisted, crippled right arm. He had leaped up and flopped his tumbling rear end through the open backdoors of a large 25-foot delivery truck, just as the light was changing to green.
The high-bed vehicle was filled with what appeared to be a hundred sealed light brown cardboard boxes. Of various shapes and bulks, the cargo was, presumably, on its way to the various addresses on their computerized, white labels.
And as the truck was noisily engaging from the stoplight, the man, in his 30s or so, swept his good arm and hand. He randomly knocked at least 8 of the larger boxes onto the street of Philadelphia. Maybe there were 10. Or more. I’m not quite sure.
The scene unfurled along the city’s antique-row shops. A mostly residential tree-lined thorofare, just a few short blocks from the high-rises of center city.
At first I surmised the backdoor fellow was the truck driver’s assistant. And though any shout of alert from 60 feet away would have been lost in the traffic din, my voice was immediately stymied by the next chain of events.
You know, sometimes, the eyes aren’t responsible when the mind isn’t seeing things for what they are.
I think I see my point…
With the big truck accelerating the man managed to roll off and finally stumbled, awkwardly off-balance, onto his back. He tumbled, like the weed, a couple of times on the blacktop.
Did he fall off?, my mind seemed to be asking my puzzled eyes. But the man only lay there for the mere flash it took him to acknowledge that sometimes a spontaneous notion is better than a great train robbery.
Simply put: One man’s treasure swiftly became another man’s impulsive fortune.
Fortunately there wasn’t much traffic. And the only one noticing, besides moi, was this stylishly-attired bespectacled older woman. She was idling in the parking lane in a black and chrome, chic Hummer. Her face crinkled into a smile of baffled curiosity.
Then the man on the street waddled to his feet. He politely directed a young man driving a rather large sedan behind the truck to open his trunk and back door so “we can pack and squeeze in these boxes.”
The younger fellow appeared hesitant and perplexed at the sudden turn of eccentric events. He seemed just as astonished as I and the smiling lady in the black Hummer. But he soon limbered up and cooperated.
And then with some panache and flair they slammed shut their doors and trunk. And with the cavalier air of ‘hi-ho, hi-ho it’s off to work we go,’ were off — in a direction other than the northbound truck.
At that, as the street quieted, I locked bemused eyes with the lady smiling from the Hummer and wondered aloud: “Did we just see what I thought we saw…? Did we witness a crime?”
She just shook her head amazed, enjoying her happy-hour grin.
Now, naturally, life is full of surprises. And often times we don’t register what is happening before our very eyes. We often don’t know if we’re witnessing the scene of an accident …or a crime.
Most likely, it’s because you just can’t believe your lying eyes.
One man recognized opportunity. And as my dear ol’ bourbon sippin’ Pappy used to exhale between those omnipotent puffs on his omniscient corn cob pipe: Most opportunities are disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.
Meanwhile I saw what I thought was a man being injured falling off a truck and was about to come to his aid. (Does that make me a liberal or a schmuck? Gawd, I’d hate to be thought a liberal.) Other drivers were just too busy to distinguish anything and saw what they had no time to mind.
And the woman in the Hummer giggled and laughed: “Better than a movie, wasn’t it?” she offered in a Texas-size twang. “Life in the big city. You folks really go out of your way to be entertaining…”
You know, life may not have a plot. But it is full of entertainment and intrigue that doesn’t pour out between commercials on a virtual reality cable channel. It sort of reminded me of a long-gone day while working in the erstwhile USSR. Or for those of you fluent in Cyrillic: CCCP.
My hulking, oversized driver pointed to a story in Pravda and asked me if it was true. The story stipulated: In America money grows on trees.
“It doesn’t,” I pitifully explained, “but fools do.”
Which all got me to thinking about the third Presidential debate the other night. And I got to wondering: Which of these two fools really has larceny in his heart of artificial hearts?
Because we all do. But the vast majority of us fools are just too blind, stupid or afraid to recognize opportune moments. For, like sunrises, if you wait too long, you miss them. Indeed, the follies which a man regrets most in his life are those which he didn’t commit when he had the chance.
And that’s what we are all seeking in our President, isn’t it? I know I am. Not just some political bullshitter. Not just another demagogue who knows he says foolish things to fools who believe them.
I am seeking a guy with common sense: That’s the knack of seeing things as they are. And doing the things that ought to be done. At the time.
I am seeking the one with the fire in his belly to do what needs doing. And not only to seize the day, but steal the moment. One to:
…rob the robber barons. But not too much. Or of everything. Leave them enough so they can get rich once more. And we can rob them again, more and more.
…give to the poor. But not too much. Just enough so they can’t sit back and do nothing no more. So they have to get up at the crack of dawn and cock-a-doodle-doo! Instead of crying boo-hoo!
…have some guts. But not too much. To withstand the nature, the desire of all men, in all places, in all cultures and all tongues: Mainly greed. We all have enough for our need – but not enough for our greed.
…play poker. Real poker. But not when he’s holding too much – aces. But when he’s holding two little – deuces.
I don’t want any President who talks too much and says too little. Or does too much for far too few.
Look, it’s doesn’t take a proctologist to find a good President. Or a General. Or a CEO. Or a BMOC…
I’m simply looking for the guy with the resumè that shows he’s got the brass balls, the serenity and the wisdom to change what he can, accept what he can’t, recognize the difference and move on. A guy who is brazen enough to understand it is sometimes better to have a good enemy than a bad friend. A guy who doesn’t hesitate to drink their whiskey, take their money, screw their women…and then vote against them in the morning.
For, as the day dawns and ends, and like the man on the truck, a President must be experienced and bold enough to see opportunity that may be invisible to others, as well as the good that lies beyond appearances.
And then snatch it – even with a crippled arm.
It may not always be right. But it is always the right time. For the only moment we’ve got is here and now. That leaves little time to dither about what you should already know.
Whatever is done won’t be enough for everybody. It never is. For even if everybody has enough, it’s still never enough. That’s the nature of all man’s friends and enemies alike, everywhere. We all have desire – and not just in our hearts that are always craving more blood.
But that’s not all bad for the right President who sees man’s desire for what it is — opportunity. For then, even the enemy of our enemy quickly becomes another greedy friend.
And dats yDrewIS on DIS penal colony…