Friday, April 13, 2012

Watching the Rat Race

I'm hanging out at the coffee shop this morning. It's a nice little place down on 5th Street in old Naples, with bunches of tables outside where about a dozen other people are sitting, reading, talking, and of course drinking coffee while noshing something. They make good danish here, and I'd get one except I still have one more pesky pound to lose.

Places like these are testimonies to the potential for a society that is -- while maybe not automobile-free -- less automobile-imprisoned. There are tons of cars going by, of course, but most of the folks sitting around me either walked here or rode their bikes here. It gives me hope.

There are still a few families down here … the last vestiges of Spring Break and folks that haven't headed back north to their primary residence. Grandparents watching kids, bouncing babies on their knee. The babies screech at something the rest of us either can't see or don't deem screech-worthy any more. Some of us roll our eyes and others remember how it was when our kids were babies, finding patience and a twinge of longing.

Since it's still early, there are lots of trucks. Things here constantly need fixin', or they need tearin' down and puttin' another one up. South Florida is a work in progress, constantly recreating itself, trying to stay on the leading edge of American excess. The rumor is that nearly 40% of all heated toilet seats are installed here.

I just made that up.

The other kind of vehicle that you see at this time of the morning is paramedics and fire trucks. It's not usually for car wrecks or even someone hitting a cyclist, thank goodness. It's just that early morning is when humans wake up and put an extra load on the circuit boards of our bodies, and sometimes that pops the breaker. Maybe the EMTs can reset it, and maybe they can't. Console yourself with the thought that, if he who dies with the most toys wins, you were definitely in there at the sprint for the finish line.

Meanwhile, there's a light breeze blowing offshore, keeping the humidity down and making life good here. I'm sitting in a coffee shop on a beautiful, sunny Friday morning, writing a blog. I rode my bike here, and my breaker didn't trip.

I'm winning.

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