Saturday, February 23, 2008

Very few degrees and directions

February 5, 2007

The temperature outside was minus four degrees this morning. I didn't know this as I walked barefoot, wearing only sweat pants to start my car. I let it warm up for at least 20 minutes as I took a shower. As I left the house my hair froze in the eight seconds it took to walk from my back door to the drivers seat. WJR, the news/talk station I usually listen to was broadcasting nothing by school closing updates so I scanned the dial for something else. I pulled in CFCO, the "classic gold" station from Windsor, Ontario, Canada and the Terry Jacks classic "Seasons in the Sun" was playing. What irony, I thought to myself.

Driving around later in the day the streets were white but not with snow that covered the ground. They were filled with the chalky residue from the literally tons of road salt the city had been dumping on them for the last several days. In Michigan it's a process we appropriately call "salting the roads." In other parts of the country they use sand. It works almost as well, but in the spring is quite messy.

95% of the cars on the road were also white with the same wintry residue as if a million blackboard erasers were banged together at once overhead. I knew washer fluid would soon be scarce at the gas stations. Speaking of gas stations, I've often wondered who started the myth that states if you were lost you should go to the gas station to ask for directions? I mean, just because they sell maps it does not make them experts at getting you found if you'd become lost. This is especially true if they don't speak English. This reminds me of a lesson I learned from my friend, Dr. Abe Nemeth.

Dr. Nemeth was born blind, but not born a doctor. He's now 85 years old and one of the most amazing people I know. His life story is quite amazing, as he was the one who invented Braille mathematics. (The Nemeth code) Google his name sometime, it's fascinating. Anyway, when he was in his 20's living in New York he was on the subway one day and he overheard two people talking about how they were lost and couldn't find a particular museum. He politely interrupted their conversation and gave them precise directions starting by telling them the correct subway exit to take, how far to walk etc. They thanked him and returned to their seats behind him. It was then he heard one of them whisper to the other: "Why should we listen to him, he's blind." Without missing a beat he turned around and said: "That's very true, but I'm not the one who's lost."