So I’m walking down the street from the bus stop, and I stop at an intersection to wait for the light to change. It’s a pretty large road, and in the right-hand lane a car pulls up. An SUV of some sort, driven by a young man with his windows open and a laughing woman in the passenger seat, bare feet up on the dashboard.
The man looks over at me– “Hey,” he yells, “Whuz that, a pager?” indicating the insulin pump on the waistband of my jeans.
“No,” I yelled back into his car, “it’s an insulin pump– I’m a diabetic.”
Suddenly, he is taken aback, abashed. “Oh, dude, I’m sorry– I didn’t know!”
And I laughed. Really? In what world is it perfectly acceptable to yell at someone out of your car, but, not recognizing an obscure medical device that only 15% of 1% of Americans have? Now that’s just rude.
The light changed, and I continued across the street, my day made.
“There are no exact guidelines. There are probably no guidelines at all. The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world. In other words, I can only recommend perspective and distance. Awareness of all the most dangerous kinds of vanity, both in others and in ourselves. A good mind. A modest certainty about the meaning of things. Gratitude for the gift of life and the courage to take responsibility for it. Vigilance of spirit.” – Czech President Vaclav Havel, addressing far more serious things than I am (June 24, 1999 Open Society Prize acceptance speech)
Happy Mother’s Day, all you mothers– and many thanks to my mother for imparting to me a healthy sense of irony and an appreciation for the absurd.