Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
by Rodney Merrill
Some days, it seems like the world is full of jackasses. Like the day I looked in the rearview mirror and see this guy barreling up behind me, going way too fast. He slams on the brakes and skids across the wet leaves. His huge car stopped inches from my little Mazda. Then he jumps out of his car, waving his arms and shouting obscenities. Nobody slows down at a yellow light, he bellows. You should have gone through! Nobody expects you to stop fer Chrissakes!
What a jackass.
Or the last time the countertop contractor came back after tearing out his first attempt and replacing it with something worse. This is his second repair of the second install. He is "not interested in issuing a refund," he says. He has used enough materials for three kitchens already. My house isn't square. He can't be expected to fit countertops to a skewed kitchen.
Jackass-colonized days are exhausting. And they stretch your belief in humanity to the fraying point.
Other days are different. Like last November when I landed at Logan airport, expecting it to be bustling with people. Although I'm 57 years old, this is the first time I've ever flown alone. I do not navigate well, to put it mildly. I can get lost in a large house. So I rely on others.
It is late at night. The airport is empty. I am scared.
A janitor asks if I am okay. I try to explain but when she responds, I realize she can barely speak English. I say I will be okay and she goes.
I must get to the University of New Hampshire dorms (150 miles away) before midnight or I will be locked out. Bonnie, who is to share a ride to UNH, has left several urgent voice messages . She is at Manchester airport, some 75 miles away but my cell phone balks when I try to return her calls.
The janitor returned with a guy holding a mop. He offers help and this is almost comical because his English is worse. He is very tall, dark-skinned and kindly. His accent may be Carribean. I tell him not trouble himself but he will not be dissuaded and leads me to someone who can help: an English-fluent Delta employee who hands me her personal cell phone to call Bonnie. Bonnie, another stranger, realizing how distraught I am, takes the cab from Manchester to Logan to pick me up!
At the dorms, the doors are locked and the cabbie refuses to leave until we figure something out. Moments later, a Durham police officer with no responsibility for the UNH campus stops and calls around until she finds a grad student to let us in.
Even though we've paid him, the cabbie waits until the student unlocks the door.
Some days, it seems like the world is full of jackasses. Other days, it is just teaming with angels and saints.
Rodney Merrill lives and writes in Astoria, OR.
Back to Flashes