I was stuck the other day behind an elderly driver going twenty-five miles an hour in a fifty-five zone. He’s was driving one of those pale green cars that look like a cross between a tank and a Cadillac, and weigh something like seven thousand pounds. His wife was next to him, and he would slow down and point at things along the road every few seconds. We were going so slow, Amish buggies were tailgating us, and honking horns to get us to speed up.
I’m usually not a patient man, and it didn’t help that I had my teenage son with me. I decided to help myself relax by playing what I call the absurdity game. The way it works is, when you’re in a situation that’s driving you crazy, you start making up outrageous stories. As the gentleman in front of me cruised along at a sedate twenty miles an hour, and slowed to five at every turn, I suddenly said to my son, ”Maybe he’s driving slow because he only has one arm, and it’s hard for him to drive.” My son started to laugh as I continued. “Well, maybe a few years ago he was driving by an orphanage engulfed in flames. Rushing to the rescue of innocent children, he heroically pulled two-hundred and eighty-four orphans, and Mrs. Higgins, the cook, to safety one by one through an open window. In his amazing efforts to save them his arm was badly burned, became infected, and subsequently had to be amputated.”
I continued my story. “He’s also not taken those turns too well. What if he’s missing a leg as well as an arm, and is pushing the brake pedal with his cane. Maybe, last year while at the beach some young children had become trapped in an undertow, and were being pulled swiftly and perilously out to sea. Even though he had only one arm, he knew he had to do something. So, using his training as a former navy seal, he waded into the rough surf, and ultimately the same undertow, and proceeded to miraculously save the children one by one. As he was returning the last child to the safety of the beach, while cradling the child in his one arm, he felt a harsh tugging and a sharp pain in his right leg. Struggling to the beach with his precious cargo, it was only then as he collapsed onto the wet sand that he realized that he was the victim of a shark attack. Though paramedics saved his life; the doctors could not save his leg.”
You should all try the absurdity game sometime. I may have to use it again. I’m behind a women in the Dunkin Donut’s drive-through. I’ve waited five minutes, and they started handing her box after box of donuts. I have no doubt she works for a wonderful charity. By tomorrow morning Fed Ex will be delivering boxes of mouth-watering jelly donuts to hundreds of hungry children in a drought ravaged foreign land. Bless her heart.