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It’s impossible to detour around all roadwork

I was more tired than an 18-wheeler.

I’d driven and flown too many hours. Each mile added a certain weariness. As Yogi Berra probably didn’t say, “It gets late early out there.” Time does ride a fast horse. I was tired enough to either have one shirt button too few or one too many buttonholes. I walked near a car sporting a bumper sticker reading, “I’m retired. Go around me,” when I stepped in some dog poop. I didn’t consider suing anyone. It reminded me of the two fellows walking down the street, one reached down and picked up some dog scat and said, “Look what I almost stepped in.”

If a tree steps on some dog poop in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it still make a sound? I told myself, “It’s OK.”

At least I could still button my own shirts even if I couldn’t do it correctly and the canine exhaust was only on one sandal. I didn’t become angry. As Yogi Berra said, “If the world was perfect, it wouldn’t be.” To quote someone who isn’t Yogi Berra, Ralph Waldo Emerson, “For every minute you are angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness.”

It could have been worse.

When I was in college, I read a book by Dr. Maxwell Maltz called “Psycho-Cybernetics.” He introduced visualization techniques such as the free throw experiment. There were three basketball teams. One team practiced shooting free throws. The second team didn’t practice. The third team mentally practiced making free throws. They visualized the sinking of the charity tosses. When the three teams were tested later, the team that practiced outscored the team that didn’t practice. No surprise there. However, the team that practiced only in their minds performed nearly as well as the team that actually shot free throws. Maltz found that performance could be improved by picturing success.

I visualized myself not stepping in dog poop. It was too late, but it made me smile.

After some sole cleaning, I walked to a hotel to check in. There was one fellow ahead of me. He was a singer whose name you’d recognize. He was cranky. One day doesn’t fit all. I wanted to check his shoes for dog poop. There was probably nothing wrong with him that a hug and $10 million wouldn’t cure, but I cannot speculate as to what was in his heart. He was having a bad day. I’m sure he had a good side. Even football coaches, involved in a violent sport, draw hugs and kisses on blackboards.

I made it to my room a bit later than planned. I ate a South Carolina peach I’d bought from a roadside stand. It was juicy and delicious.

The next morning I awoke too early, better than too late, believing that I’d have a good day. Life is a great adventure and it’s impossible to detour around all the roadwork or dog poop.

Sometimes I applaud. There are days that deserve an ovation. Misery might love company, but the company doesn’t love misery.

That night, after work, the stars twinkled. I took a longcut to the hotel by way of a beach. Small stones had been formed into the shape of a heart. Someone’s handiwork reminded me to enjoy each day — a once-in-a-lifetime, never again occurrence.

I wanted to put one of the rocks into my pocket, but it would have marred the heart’s perfection.

When I was a lad, most local radio stations signed off at midnight with “The Star Spangled Banner.” There were 50,000-watt clear-channel behemoths with powerful all-night signals meant to provide coverage to areas without stations.

There were a couple of stations in this category that we could listen to all day — WHO in Des Moines and WCCO from Minneapolis and/or St. Paul. There were a few that I listened to only at night. WGN Chicago, KAAY Little Rock, KDKA Pittsburg, WLS Chicago, KOMA Oklahoma City, KOA Denver, WBZ Boston, WLW Cincinnati, WJR Detroit, WWL New Orleans and KMOX St. Louis.

We had an ancient and giant Philco radio. It had been in the family far longer than me. It was wooden and tall with 19 knobs and dials, only two of which made any difference. One controlled the on-off and volume. The other found stations. I’d search the frequencies by slowly moving up and down the dial, listening for far away voices. When I found something that sounded right, it was a good place to stop.

Like right here.


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