Monday, February 27, 2012

His Name is Trouble

I'm sitting here in my office waiting to go to work. In thirty-five minutes it's going to be my son Trevor's birthday. At the tick of midnight while he is asleep in his Lightening McQueen bed two stories above my head he is going to snooze right into that milestone of childhood that is known as being four years old. I'm sure not much is going to change for him really. One sleep doesn't really do a lot to make that much of a difference in a little boy's life but I know that tomorrow he is going to feel ten times more important than he usually does every other day and believe me that feeling of importance is something that he has to tote around in a wheelbarrow along with his awesome personality.

Trevor cracks me up daily. Two things about him are especially funny. When he is at home and playing with his older sisters or baby brother he will dig around in his closet and drawers and find the best pants he can find and a nice shirt and a vest and a tie. He puts them on and calls them his boss clothes. His sisters let him boss them around a little bit which is surprising because he has such strong opinions about everything and has no problem telling you where he stands. My older daughter is always playing that she has a restaurant or a store or a refreshment shoppe or something and Trevor is always the boss as she tries to make him think that her ideas of how to be a good boss when they are playing are actually his ideas. It is pretty funny at times.

The other thing that I find especially funny is when a grown-up asks him his name. He answers: "Trevor." The grown-up always laughs and says: "Oh, Trouble!" because when Trevor says "Trevor" it sounds EXACTLY like "Trouble." When the grown-up says that, Trevor gets a little louder and says "No! Trevor" which sound EXACTLY like "Trouble" so the grown-up laughs a little more and a little louder and repeats "Trouble!" which starts to make Trevor a little mad.

Trevor has a way of being mad and still being able to smile and raise his eyebrows and exude very animated facial expressions and body language so the conversation escalates rapidly with the grown-up laughing louder and saying "Trouble" over and over because they think Trevor is trying to be funny and Trevor gets louder and louder and more animated because he is getting mad in a happy expressive kind of way thinking that the grow-up is making fun of him and playing with his name in a friendly way.

It always gets to a point where my wife or I have to step in and let the grown-up know that he's actually saying "Trevor" and that it just SOUNDS like "Trouble." The grown-ups always immediately correct themselves with a lot of laughs and smiles and at that very instant they have a new best friend named Trevor who won't stop talking to them about anything and everything. And how do you break off a conversation with a little boy like that? You can't. He will just follow you around until he's done letting you know what's on his mind. It's especially funny on plane rides as you can imagine.

It's funny because it's a simple misunderstanding. Trevor is absolutely sure that he is communicating his name clearly and that the grown-up is just trying to have fun with him. The grown-up is absolutely sure that they are hearing his name clearly and that Trevor is just trying to have fun with them. It's a simple misunderstanding and it always cracks me up and brings a smile to my face.

Earlier today I was out on my bike testing my legs on some hill attacks and I ran into a couple of misunderstandings that didn't crack me up and didn't bring a smile to my face. It seems I can be just as opinionated and strong willed as my son Trevor and I frequently find myself wanting to let people know what is on my mind too. Sometimes it's hard to be tactful because I don't have much of a filter. Sometimes I just stumble right into sarcasm which I've been told is my superpower and often times its difficult to keep a smile on my face and not go from everything is great to getting mad.

I was heading east in the bike lane and cruising along a slight downhill at around 28 mph and about a half mile in front of me I spotted a salmon plodding and weaving their way up the wrong way in the bike lane. I hate salmon in the bike lane. I want to stop and then stop them and just grab and shake them until they realize the error of their ways and repent. You don't ride the wrong way in the bike lane. You just don't do it. What part of the arrows painted on the tarmac about every 40 feet do you not quite understand? Reminds me of a quote from John Wayne: "Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid."

Right after I slowed down and awkwardly negotiated my way around the salmon in the bike lane while simultaneously yelling "Don't go the wrong way!" I came upon about five vehicles parked right smack in the bike lane outside of a local church. Fortunately I had regained my speed, signaled and merged quickly into the traffic flow. As I pedaled by the cars in the bike lane I couldn't help but notice the BIKES ONLY sign and right after that the sign that said NO PARKING AT ANY TIME. I wondered what part of these signs those bike lane parkers just couldn't understand. The signs seemed pretty clear to me.

I couldn't quite wrap my mind around just what exactly the salmon or the bike lane parkers had misread or misseen or misunderstood out there on the road today. I couldn't quite fathom how a misunderstanding like they were immersed in could have possibly occured. I didn't quite get it. All I knew is that something about really big arrows painted all over the tarmac and designed to point cyclists in the right direction had failed to do their job. The BIKES ONLY on the sign and the NO PARKING AT ANY TIME I thought were pretty clear as well but somehow the bike lane parkers had misunderstood what was trying to be communicated.

It was just like Trevor and the grown-ups except I didn't think it was funny. It's hard to smile when your eyes are rolling back in your head just about as far as they can go but I tried anyway. I tried to smile at the salmon as I was yelling at him and visualizing shaking some sense into him. I tried to smile at the bike lane parkers as I rode on by wishing I had a billy club to clobber off their side view mirrors. I tried to see the funny in their misunderstanding. But I couldn't

Unfortunately these misunderstandings are not few and far between. These misunderstandings today are not really isolated incidents. It seems they happen on almost every ride I take and in almost every bike lane I'm in and outside almost every church I pedal by. It's unfortuate in my mind because I believe there is right and wrong. Things are black or white. I do believe in absolutes. An arrow on the tarmac can only have one meaning. To me it's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to misunderstand that meaning.

A sign that says NO PARKING AT ANY TIME is hard, if not impossible, to misunderstand. BIKES ONLY can only mean bikes only. Even for someone who's life is harder because they are stupid. So I roll my eyes and then I think of my son Trevor and how easy it can be - how easy it must be - to have a misunderstanding. So I think of that person salmoning up the bike lane going the wrong way against the big arrows or the self absorbed obliviots that NO PARKING AT ANY TIME and BIKES ONLY does not apply to when parking in the bike lane and I say to myself "his name is Trouble" and he obviously misunderstood. Yep, his name is Trouble and he misunderstood and I can smile again and pedal on down the road.

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