By JOSEPH TINTLE
The best example of learning a lesson in common sense that I ever witnessed occurred in 1964 by a pond at Roosevelt Park in Edison, New Jersey. A boy was showing his little brother how to use a fishing rod and I could tell the older brother should have just given up because the little guy started swinging the rod like a Hillerich and Bradsby baseball bat. But dutiful big brother kept at it. Then little brother was finally ready to cast his hook. He reared back and flicked the line toward the water, only to catch the hook on the side of his big brother’s face. Or so I thought.
That’s when I heard older brother’s frightening scream, “MY EYE!!!” Even so, younger brother maintained his perfect follow through toward the smooth body of water. And what did I do? Well, I got the hell out of there — and fast. No way was I going to hang around as that little kid reeled in his brother’s eyeball. I’ve got common sense.
Common sense is the ability to see the simple truth in front of us. But don’t look now folks, common sense is fading faster than Vanilla Ice’s rap career
Look around. People are saying and doing the craziest things without regard for others. Like Michael Jackson dangling his child over a balcony to give the people below a better view. Or everyday pedestrians crossing against red lights wherever they darn well please because now that the state has pedestrian signs all over God’s creation these people think that gives them the right to crawl out of any hole and make a bee-line across the street without regard for oncoming vehicles.
Two nights ago I was driving home, doing about 20 miles per hour, on an icy rain-swept road. Out of nowhere a male cyclist came flying in front of my car. I missed him only by a matter of feet. I let him pass then I leaned on the horn for a good five seconds. If the noise I made caused him to jump the curb then good, because I’m tired of people who think they can do anything just because.
Like the kid I almost obliterated last year during an early November evening when he walked out between two parked trucks on Route 1 in Elizabeth, New Jersey, listening to his iPod while punching up a telephone number on his cellphone. Happily I had a bit of warning there, but as I sounded my horn, he never flinched. He was too into his conversation and music.
Then there was the lady at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in nearby Springfield. I was standing in front of a bookshelf thumbing through a Mickey Spillane mystery novel when a woman parked herself a few feet away and started perusing titles. Within a minute, her cellphone rang.
“Oh, really,” she was now saying. “I can’t believe it. No, no, you mustn’t tell him. Are you crazy? No, no, you’ve got to listen to me …”
The woman stopped speaking, lowered her phone, and interrupted me as I was reading a book jacket. “Do you mind,” she said with a nasty tone.
“Mind what?” I said.
“I’m on a personal call. Please leave now.”
She glared at me as if I had no social etiquette so I went back to reading. Sighing loudly, she marched to the far end of the aisle to continue her call.
So how did the rest of us acquire common sense? Remember when Mom smacked us silly when we were about to walk in front of a moving vehicle or the time Dad laid into us when we almost put our arm into the wood chipper? That’s when we were ingrained with common sense. And thank God for that.