Monday, October 02, 2006

Makes Good Use of Time

A Man A Car, A Plan: Planaman

I was driving home for a change, when I saw something unusual in front of me. A guy on a small motorcycle kept sliding back to have a discussion with a person in a car. I suppose they know each other, I thought, but instead of keeping pace with the slowly moving car in rush hour traffic, the cyclist would bound ahead, and then slip backward for another word or two. This action intrigued me, but it was only a mild aberration.
In another mile, the cyclist veered off, and made a turn and the rest of us in the rat race plodded slowly forward, a metal taffy pull on the highway; go ahead, shrink closer together, etc.
The next thing I noticed was that the guy in the car who had been the friend of motorcycle Bob, let’s call him, pulled up to a truck that was carrying the equipment and workers for a lawn service, and I saw the guy take a business card from the guy in the passenger seat of the truck.
This guy makes very good use of his time, I thought. Here I am just driving home, and this other guy is making friends, getting contacts, contracting work to be done. What else could he do while I drove passively behind? It turns out, that he could go to the drive in dry cleaners and come out ahead of me at the next light, a neat trick. He also picked up some dinner, cleaned the inside of his windshield, went through some mail on the seat next to him, changed his shirt, and tie, combed his hair, applied fresh cologne to disguise what I could only surmise was the accumulated odors of the day, and picked up his date at a bus stop which he probably arranged by cell phone before I pulled up in back of his car.
At this point, I was completely in awe. If he had not already picked up that other woman, I was going to jockey my car so as to get a better view of the guy and meet him myself. After all, a man who was so productive on the road could only be a paragon of efficiency in his home. Unfortunately I was not quick enough to think of that plan in time to catch up with him; also, the road was very crowded, as the rush to home continued for the majority of workers on our route. We continued driving for a while and the girlfriend wrapped a package she had pulled from her tote, changed her outfit, applied makeup, made one or two calls of her own, rummaged in the back seat to come up with a newspaper wherein she appeared to be engrossed in the classified pages, but the light in the car was fading, and my eyesight is just not what it used to be. Perhaps they live in the car, I thought. All they need is a bathroom and a couple of blankets, and they need never leave the car at all. Perhaps he conducts business by phone and laptop while making the rounds of his daily errands. Most other people would feel claustrophobic, but I know of one or two people who have lived in cars, or claimed to do so, and who knows how many people there are who just spend their day in the car? I know a salesman, but he likes getting out of the car to stretch his legs and to do business with his clients. He prefers eating in restaurants, too, as would I in his place, but the couple in front of me seemed perfectly content to conduct all of the business of their lives in the front seat of that small sedan.
Before I could surmise anything else about the two, we came to a stop at a gaper’s delay, and I read his bumper sticker, to wit: You don’t have to believe everything you think. Ain’t that the truth? I thought. Even stopped in traffic, I was being made to think philosophically by his choice of reading material on the car. Wow! I was blown away by the fabulous functioning duo in front of my eyes. It is not often that one gets a show while driving their humdrum route home from the daily toil for cash.
I thought about going further, but was afraid of being at some point disappointed. Surely they would embark at some destination, ruining the invention of my imagination. With some relief, as I neared home, I made my turn, even then wondering about the magical life of the man whose teacher must have written in his report card; makes good use of time.

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