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The Idle American
"Wherefore Art Thou, Simpler Stage?..."
Wednesday, December 11, 2013 • Posted December 11, 2013

In his play, As You Like It, debuted some 410 years ago, Will Shakespeare said “all the world’s a stage.”

We can only guess whether theatre audiences nodded in agreement or shook their heads vigorously to object. Most of them likely were ambivalent, much like “players” on the world’s stage today, when we face more issues than anyone cares to count.

So let us consider an addendum to his quote: “and cameras as well as microphones.”…

    *****

We, the populace, may whimper, protest, mutter, lament or whatever. We are now at that place where sights and sounds are part of public records. Such has been stuffed into our collective pipes, ours to smoke, whether or not we inhale.

Nations spy on nations, corporations on competitors, political parties on each other, and, of course, traffic cameras on motorists.

We may “cry uncle” or not, but it is clear that “uncle’s” intrusions have taken over like kudzu, tentacles fully engaged....

    *****

More info whizzes about in cyberspace than mere mortals can imagine. The US mail, though, provides sobering reminders.

One came in a foreboding envelope from the City of Fort Worth the other day. It was addressed to me, and I opened it hastily, not dreaming that contents would apply to my wife, not to me.

Lo--and throw in “behold,” too--the document, somewhat harshly worded, alleged that a motorist driving a vehicle registered in my name “did then and there commit the following violation…failure to stop at a red light.” Supporting evidence included photos shot from three angles, as well as a video. The “knock-out” blow was unmistakable—a picture “front and center” of my car’s license plate….

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I did what any spouse with a lick of sense would do. Racing to my calendar, I prayed that it would provide proof of my being other-where on the fateful day.

Hallelujah! I was in Dallas--driving our “good” car. I was “committing” a speech in the morning and visiting with a friend’s family gathered in a hospital surgery waiting room in the afternoon.

After establishing innocence, it was mine to inform my wife that she had committed a grievous traffic infraction and to contact the county tax office. After all, it seems best to get both our vehicles in her name. That way, she can open future such notifications herself….

    *****

She doesn’t believe she had done anything wrong, of course. After all, she’s been driving for a full half-century, NEVER having received a citation.

Stopped just once for driving a “teensy-weensy” bit over the speed limit, she cried real tears that rolled down reddened cheeks. The officer put away his citation pad, apologizing for causing for causing any inconvenience.

Alas, while tears worked on the officer, they do no good for an emotionless camera. The $75 check for the fine has been mailed, so officially, the matter is closed. The saga continues verbally, however….

    *****

Views of such matters depend on whose foot the shoe pinches. Ours is major surgery; yours is minor, probably even “out-patient.” I could probably stand your minor illness on my eyeball.

Brenda “sort of” remembers the errant turn, vowing that the light was primarily amber, maybe with the slightest “pinkish” hue.

My guess is that it was at the epicenter of red—the brightest hue sold at the paint store….

    *****

The recent holidays were joyous with convergence of kids and grandkids. At mid-morning, though, “technological overkill” tempered Thanksgiving joy. Daughter Jana and her hubby received frantic phone calls from Tyler. Police, they learned, had converged on their home, responding to a “911” call. Relax, it was a false alarm. After all, no one was home. Some phone line fault triggered the “911” call. (Emergency responders explained that such calls are often the result of such breaches.)

Jana was chagrined. Kinfolks and neighbors inspected every room, making sure the home was free of intruders. With disarray associated with both the holidays and “getting out of town,” Jana had postponed housecleaning until right AFTER Thanksgiving. She winced at the thought of others seeing the, uh, mess.

Ah, this stage on which we mortals strut may be far better illuminated than we like….

    *****

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Speaking inquiries/comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com. Twitter: @donnewbury.

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