I had a couple of interesting experiences yesterday. I took my wife and daughter downtown to see the big city-sponsored fireworks show, but since everbody in the town was trying to see it too, we had a hard time finding places to park. For those of you who don’t know, Colorado Springs is something akin to Salt Lake City in size. It was kind of a zoo out there. People were parking in handicapped spots and tow away zones. People actually parked in every drive-up terminal of a bank, then every free inch of the bank’s asphault. If these people had their own sound track, Dennis Leary’s “I’m an Asshole” would be on it for sure.
In searching off the beaten path, we came upon a parking lot that looked like it had some spaces free. As we pulled in, our headlights shined upon a young gentleman in a backwards baseball cap. He looked sort of official in the place he was standing, like a gatekeeper, so I rolled down the window and asked what was going on. He responded that the building had decided to rent out its parking for the fourth so that they could donate the money help some crippled children foundation. As I looked at the large wad of cash in his hand, I wondered how many Xbox 360 games this little matchstick man was going to be able to buy from this stroke of genius. He couldn’t have been much more than eighteen, and already started on his way to being a conman.
Since we didn’t have any money to pay this grifter, we were obliged to find another place to park. We turned down a residential street that was about half a mile away from our destination and saw a house on the corner with nobody parked in front of it. Finally a bit of luck. We got out and started getting the baby’s stroller ready when a sprinkler, set up right next to the sidewalk, started spraying. It hosed us, our car, and the stroller before we could get out of the way. I said to my wife, “I wonder if this is a message.” Sure enough, the sprinkler had been set only to water the road out in front of this house. It had turned on five seconds after we pulled up and was obviously meant to greet any unexpected visitors. I decided to move the car to avoid any other passive aggressive action that would occur in our absence. As we walked down from the new parking place, I could see the wife-beater wearing troll turning off his “go away” sprinkler. I almost yelled some retort (“Hey dickhead! Thanks for the carwash!”) at this unconfrontational, yet territorial little man. But my better judgement prevailed as I looked over the man and the possessions that littered his lawn. I don’t think he had much to lose; I make it a rule not to piss off people who have little to lose. I stewed over it for a few minutes, then came to respect the simplicity, the efficiency, of a garden hose as a deterent. I honestly never would have thought of that.
At fireworks show, on the other hand, we felt very welcome. I saw some that I hadn’t ever seen. One made streamers of sparks almost all the way to the ground. My five-month-old-daughter didn’t even flinch at the sounds they made. Nerves of steele, that one. We were able to enjoy the show without any further annoyances apart from occasional cigarrette smoke wafting past our nostrils.