Archived Story

Comparisons can send the facts packing

Published 9:21am Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Column: Tales From Exit 22, by Al Batt

A giant meteor hadn’t destroyed the earth during the night.

That made it a good day.

I stepped in a hole dug by a badger as I chased some sparrows across a grassy prairie while doing a bird count for a state park.

It fell, but I emerged from the adventure uninjured. I credit my ability to remain unscathed in such mishaps to a lifetime of using my shinbone as a device for finding furniture in the dark.

It was no tornado in Oklahoma.

That made it a good day.

A Florida lottery player is richer by $590.5 million as the winner of the highest Powerball jackpot in history.

I didn’t win because I’ve never purchased a lottery ticket. The buck stopped before it got there.

I’m ahead by a dollar.

That made for a good day.

I walked through an area with a heavy concentration of wood ticks. That put a hop in my step. The day was cool. Others complained about the temperature.

I was happy that it wasn’t too hot.

That made for a good day.

Once upon a time, I was interested in amateur radio. I built shortwave radios and antennas. Despite being a profound doofus, I learned Morse code. I transmitted text information as a series of electrical impulses by use of a telegraph key that resulted in standardized sequences of short and long signals called dots and dashes or dits and dahs. I sent them in an order like this, “…. . .-.. .-.. —,” which I think means “hello,” but I’m not sure. You see, I’ve forgotten what Morse Code I knew.

I hadn’t thought about my failed recollection of Morse code for many years until I was waiting to go on stage in Nebraska. Performing ahead of me was a woman who tap danced. She was good and a tough act to follow.

Then it occurred to me that if I understood Morse Code, a tap dancer would drive me crazy.

That made for a good day.

One pleasant morning, my wife and I went to the zoo to see the critters and the people looking at the critters. I had a slight sore throat. I didn’t like to whine about it, but I’m a husband. I have to whine about things. It’s not only my duty, it was a part of my wedding vows. We stopped to look at the giraffes.

I hadn’t spent much time looking up when I decided that I was pleased I wasn’t a giraffe with a sore throat.

That made for a good day.

A friend tried to talk me into bowling. I don’t want to bowl. Bowling is a fine sport/activity, but I bird. I’m a birder, not a bowler. I consider birding a rip-roaring good time. I’ll admit that I was weakening. I thought about becoming a bowler. I could bird while bowling.

Then I read in the newspaper about a Florida man who accidentally shot himself in the leg while bowling. That’s why I’m not a bowler.

That made for a good day.

Generally, I don’t compare myself to others. I don’t believe in comparing what I do with what others do. There are instances when that is useful or necessary. Mostly, it serves no purpose other than to aggravate or dishearten. We are all different. We are who we are. We do what we do. We shouldn’t encourage comparisons.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, there were two contemptible brothers who lived in Hartland. They were rich, having obtained their money in any way possible. The brothers attended church regularly in an effort to present themselves as upright citizens. A new pastor, one who believed in putting the hay down where the cows could get at it, initiated a fundraising campaign to build a new church. Not long after the drive had begun, one of the brothers died. The other brother sought out the pastor the day before the funeral and gave him a check for the amount needed to finish paying for the new building.

“I have only one condition,” he said. “At my brother’s funeral, you must say that he was a saint.”

The pastor gave his word and deposited the check in the bank.

At the funeral, the blunt pastor didn’t hold back. “He was an evil man,” he said about the deceased. “He cheated not only in his business dealings, but in every other aspect of his life.”

The clergyman concluded by saying, “But compared to his brother, he was a saint.”


Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.