Sunday, February 25, 2001

Rant against the rain

Egad, but how I despise the rain at times. Oh, heck: it’s the driving in it part about which I’m currently upset. (Granted, I’m not crazy about driving period—I don’t actively dislike it, but it’s nothing that spurs me to excitement either.) And I suppose, more accurately, it’s the darkness imposed by the clouds from which the rain falls that draws my ire.

Sunday morning I went down to my car, in the rain, and realized that I left my lights on when I arrived home from dragon boat practice the previous afternoon. And the battery was really dead. And I could not go anywhere, which wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t trying to meet a breakfast invitation.

The only reason I had my lights on in the middle of the day was due to the poor visibility imposed upon drivers by the rain; it seemed like a good idea at the time, I’m sure, but likely it did not increase the likelihood of me arriving home safely by a degree significant enough to warrant the anger and inconvenience I found myself suffering.

Not that we’ll ever know.

Of course, the anger may not seem to be warranted by the fact that it is but an inconvenience I’m suffering, and were the emotion attributable to that, it would be too much. However, it springs from my disgust at my own ineptitude: this is a tragedy of my own devising. I chose to turn on the lights in spite of the fact that I have accidentally left them on under similar circumstances in the past; I did not make some effort to remind myself to turn them off, even though the thought occurred to me that I should do something.

Ah, so there it is: I knew better, but failed to act. That is, on the whole, one of my longest lasting (and most endearing) character traits. But I was too caught up in the moment, as I struggled in the rain to gather up (ahem) my paddle, my wet jacket, my wet shirt, my wet jeans, my wet towel, and a slightly greasy paper bag (holding the garbage from my detour through the Jack In The Box drive-thru on the way home).

And what possessed me to believe that I wouldn’t be too distracted when I pulled into my parking spot to remember I had made this alteration to my ordinary daytime driving routine? Blind, stupid optimism. Oh, it wasn’t conscious optimism—I didn’t think Of course I will turn off the lights—but the implication is clearly there: somewhere in my brain I held faith in myself, and while that is good and admirable and positive and all that crap, it proved unfounded. I failed yet again.

We all make mistakes, and given the circumstances it is quite understandable that this could happen. What defies logic is this tendency to dismiss past missteps in the face of remarkably similar scenarios: with this case, I don’t think this was grand self‑delusion but rather poor follow‑through. Still, if I simply had not thought about the need to remember to turn off the lights, if I had almost absent-mindedly turned them on out of unconscious devotion to the rules of safe driving, then this could be dismissed as just one of those things.

This, however, must be classified as yet another one of those things that with minimal effort could have been avoided. And do I learn from these occurrences? Yes. Do I transform the lessons into a modification in my behavior? Apparently not.

In the middle of the afternoon, I thought about going to the store but decided against it, thinking I should stay in and work on some things. When it became evident that trying to work on said things was not really going anywhere, did I resume the store-going plan (where I would have gone down to my car presumably in time to do something before the lights would drag the battery to null)? No. I watched TV. Fate was practically dragging me in a direction—no, Doug, you won’t be allowed to focus on that task: leave your apartment and discover your error—and I fell back on utter slothfulness. Plopping myself down in front of the opiating cathode ray tube, accomplishing absolutely nothing towards the projects or towards going to the store: yes, this is progress, this is climbing the evolutionary ladder, this is what separates me from “dumb” animals.

It’s almost as though I’m being punished with this dead battery. And clearly, I’m doing nothing to prove I don’t deserve that. So I think what I must do is obvious: the next time I need to drive in the rain, I need to listen to the little voice inside me.

I think it’s telling me to go back to bed and wait for a sunny day.