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Monday, January 13, 2014

Charitable Signs in the Valley…

tongue in cheekThe sarcastic content of a statement will be dependent upon the context in which it appears.


J.D. Campbell, “Investigating Components of Sarcastic Comments”

The broader the divide between youth and maturity, the more difficult it becomes for one to understand the other. The generation gap I’ve heard it called. For reasons not understood by the elder generation, some members of the younger have strange ways of making their mark upon the world: with cans of spray paint, say, or in the case of the Valley, using lawns, cornfields, pastures, or grassy rights-of-way as canvases for their vehicles’ tire tracks. These turf terrorists then return to their rutted installations and with misdirected pride think, “There, I’ve made my mark. What a mess. And I caused every bit of it.”

One of these hooligans made his mark on Beebe Corner the other day. According to an eyewitness, the four-wheeled instrument of destruction turned left off the main highway and spun into the grassy area while trying to avoid a car stopped at the stop sign. That corner puddles during heavy rains, turns the space into a marsh. The driver, who had to be going too fast to turn safely, suddenly found his car mired in the soft turf and in trying to extricate his rig, reduced the spot to muddy trenches. A plow couldn’t have made deeper furrows. The driver has yet to return to smooth out the mess—or, as far as I know, to apologize for creating it. off roading

Just last week I noticed a “Thank-you!” sign posted amid the destruction. The sentiment confused me. Years ago on a regular basis turf terrorists chewed up our right-of-way, making it tough going for the lawnmower. I would replace the divots. A couple days later the wheel ruts would be back again. The scenario went on for some time. Frustrating…. But did I think about posting a thank-you sign to reward the scoundrels for their off road excursions? Quite the contrary. Each time I surveyed the damage and set about repairing it, a Mark Twain quote came to mind. A horse dealer once sold Twain a poor piece of horseflesh, prompting the humorist to say: “I told myself if the fellow suddenly were to die, I’d cancel all previous engagements in order to attend his funeral.” A thank-you? Those wheel ruts elicited murderous thoughts every time I saw them. Revenge was what I wanted; expressing gratitude was the farthest thing from my mind.

When nocturnal terrorists churned up Tony Broers’ lawn, did Tony hustle right out there and post a sign showing his appreciation? Can’t recall seeing one. And when the inevitable swath through their cornfield appears in the morning light (an annual occurrence, a turf terrorist tradition, it seems), do the Werkhovens hustle out there and erect a large yellow Smiley Face in the mowed down strip? I must have missed that one. When a sod saboteur tore a path through The Barrell Man’s yard, did he post a “Much Obliged” message next to his“Barrell’s ten dollars” sign? If so, someone must have stolen it.

“Revenge, the world’s worst cause,” said King Arthur in the Broadway musical Camelot. Apparently that’s the  kind of charity we have here in the Valley—a “Thank-you” in exchange for carnage done. Matt Beebe is a better man than I—a “turn your cheek” sort of guy.  And Matt? An exclamation mark, even. Nothing quite communicates sincerity like an exclamation mark!

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