Yellow Jacket Gang in Concord

April 1st, 2007 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

I may be too sensitive for the harsh, competitive suburban life. The cascading shocks of life in Concord and Carlisle were almost too much to bear.

We arrived at Walden Pond to park and connect the eighth grader with his church group for a walk to the original Thoreau cabin site and a discourse on Universalism and Transcendentalism. I was supposed to disappear for an hour an one half while the minister or kids’ mentors shared wit, wisdom and whimsy while walking.

I Am Oblivious

A minor inconvenience at the unattended entry gatehouse was to find after waiting for six vehicles to slowly clear was that the automated ticket dispenser was way to 20th Century. Of course, most ATMs tend to regurgitate only $20s. The machine had a big sign reading that it did not accept $20 bills. A nearby sign informed you that if you did not have a current ticket on your dashboard, you got a pricey fine.

Here is one proof of how ensured to and eroded by city life I am. My son had already announced repeatedly that he wanted a soda, we were 20 minutes early, and I took this as a message that I could check the road I’d shortly ride, while simultaneously slaking a thirst (and later preventing xerostomatic complaints), spend a little time, and get change for the nasty little machine.

While I was finding out how unyielding and unaccommodating the machine was, a couple came behind me to do the same. They were clearly not so complacent and much more entitled. The woman literally stomped and she held forth is high volume about the unfairness and stupidity of the situation. “This sucks!,” she concluded and they left red faced.

Personal Theater

A couple of miles away at the Gulf station at the edge of Concord Center, we found a mini-mini-mart, a Cumberland Farms sized only for the munchies. There was more of the suburban tragedy playing there. Whenever a vehicle approached the gas pumps, an annoying bell and red light went off inside and outside the building.

That became remarkable only because the solo clerk could not seem to wrest himself from watching the pumps. I stood at the counter with a Mountain Dew for my lad and after seeming to convince himself that I was serious about the purchase, the clerk fully entered the door to ring me up. He looked more at the pumps than the task at hand.

His personal calamity quickly became obvious and specific. He was an argument for Scientology, he had been, as L. Ron. Hubbard would describe it, engrammed. A recent terrible event had occurred, transforming his life.

The driver of a large pickup had driven away without paying his $75 gas tab. The station apparently lets folk pump first — we cynical city folk would never allow that. The true scarring factor was that the clerk had to make up the $75 or quit, rules of the house. Now in reaction, he plays sentry, lest some other dastard fool him again.

As I was locating the MD, whenever the beep and light told of a vehicle crossing by the pumps, he could call out, “It never stops.” Indeed, here was a lesser Prometheus getting his liver torn out again and again.

When he was making change for the soda, he told me the sad story. He first said, “I thought Concord was a nice place.” Later it turned it to me for ethical judgment. “What would you do if you had to pay the $75 or lose the job? Is that fair?”

In light of his personal tragedy, driving a short distance for change had a new perspective. I hope that very unhappy and indignant couple received a similar enlightenment, and then returned to see the not real and not in the real place Thoreau cabin.

A Terror Ignored

Upon our crossing the parking lot after successfully displaying our day pass on the dash, we passed two couples heading toward the gift shop behind us. There was another angry local. This time, one of them had asked whether they could head into town afterward to see Concord.

Fortunately, one of other couple was savvy enough to save them from an awful fate. She announced (do all suburbanites yell a lot?), “Absolutely not! Parking in Concord Center is HELL!”

Here again, I suddenly realized how out of synch with the real world I am. As a city kid, I walk all the time. In my naïveté, I had seen Concord on previous visits as pretty uncrowded. A half block to a block from the few short main streets are open curbside parking.

I clearly do not know what’s important. That wise woman surely would have ripped into me if she had known that I won’t circle a grocery parking lot for the closest space. Moreover, I won’t park in a handicapped space nor one for moms with young kids nor in a fire lane. Who knows how much shoe leather, time and energy I have wasted over the years. I clearly do not think highly enough of myself.

Next, I swapped supervision of my son with two ministers and got my road shoes on. As soon as I crossed Route 2, I found out that I had not gotten the yellow-jacket memo.

Gray Beard Gang

This is another stigma of the city. I am so ashamed.

Everyone on a cycle it seems, everyone except I that is, had a yellow jacket of one brand or another. These are so visible that they actually are pretty smart for country roads. My wife would have approved. She bought me an orange safety vest years ago for such cautionary riding. I doubt though that people associate me with it, as it is still in its plastic case in a closet.

Rube that I am, I stood out, or rode around, like a grape in the bowl of grapefruit. All in yellow went they riding, while I had a purple shirt and in cotton too.

yellow Motobecane

I remarked to a few of them I encountered that it seemed like a cycling gang with all the yellow jackets. It took them several beats before the realized. I don’t think they see the yellow anymore, but I am sure my noticed my grapeness.

I took a loop that was a little under an hour up into and down from Carlisle. I extended it more toward Chelmsford to cut into my 90 minutes.

With a few expectations, the yellow guys were pleasant. A couple insisted on passing me. I an old guy and really don’t get wound up about that. Amusingly enough though, some cyclists remain very competitive, and both these guys didn’t have the stamina to keep up the pace they set to get by me. I’d just say, “Passing on the left,” on the way by them.

So from the burbs, I learned that I need to complain more. I should demand more of circumstances and feel put upon more frequently. Oh, and if I want to fit in with the cyclists, it’s not enough to have a yellow bike, which I do. I need to dress in the old-man gang colors.

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