The Fascinations of Life

By Jim Hagarty

We all have our various things that fascinate us. Some we have in common, other are unique to each of us. These are the things that help keep life interesting.

In my case, and I can’t explain why these things hold my gaze, I am enthralled with the following.

  1. Robots. I can’t watch enough videos about robots, especially those that are made to resemble humans. They scare me a little, but are a tangible example of the power of human ingenuity.

  2. Outer space. I am not alone in this. Most news websites carry lots of stories about space. They are sure-fire “clickbait”. It is an ancient interest. Cavemen peered into the night sky and said, “Ooogah, oogahi” which is caveman for, “What the hell?”

  3. Old cars. No better and more observable time capsules all around us. Motorized museums.

  4. Technological advances. I was sitting with a friend at an outdoor restaurant recently when he suddenly started having a conversation into thin air. He had just gotten a phone call. His hearing aids are equipped with Bluetooth wireless technology. I hate hearing aids but just might have to pick me up a pair.

  5. Ghosts. Not a big believer in them, but not arrogant enough to think there is no such phenomenon. I do believe our soul existed somewhere in space before it was embodied in flesh and bone and exists after it leaves its earthly shelter. No proof, just a hunch. Ghost hunters are little spooky in themselves. But braver than I am. The crew that spent the night in Dracula’s 14th century castle in Transylvania a while back come to mind. I was once asked to look after an old farmhouse while its owners were away. I turned on a light the entranceway when I entered the place, then went through the house, upstairs and down, checking on things and watering plants. When I returned, the light was off. I thought the bulb had burned out. But I flicked the switch anyway. It came back on again. I achieved a land-speed record for running to my car and racing down the long, spooky driveway to the main road. A woman had died in the house years before.

  6. People. I am a dedicated people watcher. I would rather spend a day at the mall doing that than touring a zoo. A seal is a seal, a gorilla, a gorilla. But people come in so many varieties, I will never get tired of watching them. When my family and I go to the mall to shop and they fret about my having nothing to do, I tell them I will be fine. Then I park my butt in a strategic location and watch the passersby. Young lovers. Moms and kids. Old folks. Fascinating.

  7. History. Or to be more precise, things that still exist on earth that have a historical connection. To stand in the theatre where Abe Lincoln was shot, or Charlemange’s cathedral in Aachen which was built in the 800s and which looks like it went up yesterday, or Alexander Graham Bell’s bedroom in Canada (yay for us!) where he got the idea for the telephone and worked on prototypes, are high points in my life. I have seen a famous rock in Ireland where St. Patrick baptized a king in the 400s.

  8. Live theatre. It is an amazing experience to watch a group of people co-ordinate their actions and voices in such an incredible blend to bring tears and laughter to audiences. So much goes into a good show, both on stage and behind the scenes, that it almost defies imagination.

  9. Music. I used to have limited tastes but now I like almost everything. But a popular song, well-crafted, is a thing to behold. It originated from someone’s imagination and then is developed into such a thing of beauty it can be breathtaking. More than once, on hearing a new song on the radio, I have had to pull my car off to the shoulder so I could fully appreciate it.

  10. Animals, wild and domesticated. I prefer to meet them up close domestically, from a distance wild. But to see them live their lives with the same needs, hopes and desires we have and to watch them interact with the world around them is a study in awesomeness unlimited.

Step on it, Mayvis!

By Jim Hagarty
2006

Last week, an 82-year-old woman was slapped with a $156 ticket for taking too long to cross a street in Los Angeles.

Mayvis Coyle was shuffling across a busy road with her cane, but couldn’t make it to the other side before the light turned red. A motorcycle cop nabbed her and told her she was obstructing traffic before he wrote out the fine.

“I think it’s completely outrageous,” she said. “He treated me like a six-year-old.”

Newspapers reported Los Angeles police Sgt. Mike Zaboski as saying that police are cracking down on people who improperly cross streets because pedestrian accidents are above normal. But on the day in question, the light changed too quickly even for high school students to make it across without running. It went from green to red in 20 seconds.

Now, you might think I’m going to defend the old lady and say boo to the cop. But you’re wrong. One of the problems with this world, as I see it, is that it is not well-enough populated with stressed-out, strung-out, wound-up, fiddle-string-tight senior citizens. Too many of them are just too darned relaxed for the good of our society. Plainly put, they are holding the rest of us back.

I say, Mayvis, get your outraged butt in gear or get off the roads!

Seniors tend to dawdle, whether on foot or behind the wheel. They stop each other on sidewalks and chat, an annoying practice as those of us with important things to do have to try to get around them. They completely take up what few benches there are around, making them unavailable for those of us who need to park it for 30 seconds to scald our throats with hot takeout coffee.

Seniors just don’t get it. They don’t talk on cellphones while they walk or drive which just goes to show their complete inefficiency. They’re not plugged into MP3 players so they can listen to Guy Lombardo while they rock on their front porches. They don’t jog, for Pete’s sake, they don’t cross streets against “no walking” signals (except for that annoying tortoise rebel Mayvis) and they don’t drive their cars through red lights.

Imagine that! Seniors actually follow traffic signals, even speed limit signs, which shows how out of it they really are. They are stopping progress, keeping society back. More needs to be done about this than handing out $156 parking tickets.

We need new “sunset” laws that keep seniors off the streets and in their homes where they belong.

In a way, although I’m still halfway between second and third base in this big ball game of life, I can identify with Mayvis. I was walking across a main street in my hometown of Stratford the other day when I became aware of a big lighted digital clock counting down the seconds I had left to cross this wide roadway. I’m not a slouch (like poke-along Mayvis) but it kept me going to make it to the other side as the clock announced three, two, one… With 25 cars and trucks ready to pounce, what it actually felt like was that the clock was ticking down the number of seconds I had left to live.

I recently pulled out of a funeral home in London and, unfortunately, turned the wrong way onto the one-way King Street. Drivers immediately began flashing their lights but a young cop was all over me like drool on a baby. He actually yelled “cease and desist” and screamed at me for five minutes, leading me to believe I was heading for the U.S. prison on Guantanamo Bay or worse.

Between gritted teeth, I wanted to tell him I happily drove along King Street (the right way) dozens of times while he was still filling the diapers his mama put on him, but to avoid the $300 fine I was threatened with, I restrained myself. Mayvis got off lucky: I would have been happy to have been treated like a six-year-old rather than a diaperless infant.

A cab driver in New York was stopped at a light one day when an old lady hobbled in front of his car, trying to make it to the other side. She was too slow, however, and just when she was midway past his hood, the light changed. The driver behind the cabbie immediately got on his horn, commanding him to get moving. The cab driver got out of his vehicle, walked back to the car behind him, threw his keys in the window and said, “You run over her, bud! I haven’t got the stomach for it.”

It’s a speedy world we live in. Seniors, and all others so inclined, need to take to heart this motto: Move it or lose it!

One of these days, Mayvis and I might just lose it.