The Dope of the hour, give or take

It seems one of today’s hottest businesses is motivational speakers. No matter what you need motivation for, there’s at least a dozen speakers for it.

From walking a tightrope to writing a novel, from losing weight to gaining self-esteem, from embracing sobriety to embracing your heartthrob, some flim-flammer or other is standing there, big smile on face, big pockets on suit, ready to tell you their surefire secrets for success .. provided you first cough up the mazuma, of course.

I’d be a lousy motivational speaker for the simple reason I don’t believe there are secrets of success — ANY success. Seems to me success depends on four factors: aptitude, luck, hard work and patience. And since luck and aptitude can’t be controlled, we’re left with only hard work and patience. And if I were a motivational speaker, that’s exactly what I’d tell people, which is exactly what they DON’T want to hear. After all, there’s no secret about working hard and being patient. Plus it’d mean folks would require discipline, endurance and focus, and who wants to hear that that?

Since I retired, hard work is as much a part of my life as red pencils, role books and a watch. But while my middle initial is “D,” patience is my middle name. And it got sorely tried on Tuesday.

First, I’d been car-less since Monday, and I would be till Thursday, since my car was in the capable hands of The Bey of Bondo, Wayne Darrah. So getting in and out of town depended on either shanks’ mare or the kindness of strangers, friends or even enemies, if I could con them into rides.

Second, I had a dinner date with O.J. that would’ve tried the patience of Job, hisself.

(FYI: O.J. is the Other Jen, not Simpson).

We were supposed to meet the Downhill Grill at 6. I figured that was no sweat, since Jen-Ex had generously lent me her car for the eve. I had a bunch of chores to do, which I did. That left picking up my copy of the Enterprise and feeding and walking my dogs. As I drove home to fetch the hounds, I checked the dashboard clock: 5:30. I thought that might be cutting it close, but even if I was late, I figured it’d be by only a few minutes.

I gave the dogs their food, which not only cost more than mine, but that looked and smelled better, too. But no matter how costly or delicious any dog food is — or isn’t — the mutts’ll scarf it in seconds, which they did.

I checked the clock: 20 of. Right on sked.

Next, I harnessed the curs and herded them out for their post-prandial constitutional. When that was over and I was headed home, I checked the dash — 5:55. Yes, I’d be late, but forgivably so.

After I dropped off the dogs, gave them a treat and told them how good they are, I drove to town. I pulled into the Newberry’s, Sears’ or whoever’s parking lot at five after and hied into the Downhill Grill.

After saying hello to King Bunk and Kenny Lawless, I scoped out the joint for O.J. She wasn’t there, so I took a seat in the bar and told Nicki I’d order food when my friend arrived. Then I did the only thing I could — I waited.

And I waited ..

.. and waited ..

Grumblings … of stomach

and psyche

I checked the clock. It was half-past. She was late, and I was hungry — VERY hungry. When I go out to eat, I expect to eat quickly. I don’t mind some waiting, but to wait a half-hour before I could even give my order is beyond my acceptable waiting limit. So I called over Nicki and gave her my order. Some peeps might consider it rude to order before the other person arrives, but I knew O.J. would understand.

My food arrived, but O.J. didn’t. It was 10 of, and I started to worry.

Here’s the thing: O.J. has a several college degrees (including an MLS); she was a Coast Guard petty officer; she’s smart as a whip and hyper-responsible. I’ve known her over 30 years, and I’ve never known her to flake out on anything. Yet here it was, 6:55, almost an hour late, and she wasn’t here.

But WHY?

I’d no idea, so I did the only thing that made sense to me — I got out my phone and went to call her. I flipped open the phone, and when the screen lit up I got a major jolt. It was the time. It said 5:55, not 6:55.

I checked the restaurant clock. Also 5:55.

The hell!

After the shock dissipated, my brain started to work … at least a little bit.

What had happened was I, a magician, had fallen victim to one of magic’s most powerful weapons — suggestion.

Here’s the way it works. Let’s say, in a gig, I take a Bic pen out of my pocket. What I do NOT say is, “As you can see, this is a perfectly ordinary Bic pen.” And I do not say it if it really IS a perfectly ordinary Bic pen. Why is that? Suggestion. You see, everyone knows magicians lie almost as much as politicians, faith healers and college recruiters. So if I say the pen’s ordinary, the audience will automatically think I’m lying, and the pen is somehow extraordinary. And once that happens, even if the trick works perfectly, the audience thinks the pen did the trick all by its lonesome.

Foolin’ the magus

With me and the time, the suggestion started in Jen-Ex’s car. More specifically, it started when I checked her dashboard clock because she hadn’t set her clock ahead after the time change. So when I looked at the clock the first time and it read 5:30, it was actually 4:30.

Thus 5:30 registered in my mind. And — here’s suggestion for you — when I checked the time after that, I really only checked the minutes, whether on a digital or analog clock. And while it seems it’d take a momentous dope to miss the hour number, it doesn’t. A run-of-the-mill dope (yours truly, for example) could miss it as well. And in my case, I did.

Plus, if ya really want to get down to nitty-gritty, at a glance at a digital clock a 5 looks kinda like a 6, and on an analog clock the hour hand is close in the same general area of both. I mean, it’s not like the difference between it pointing at 5 or 10.

So while I felt a bit foolish about the mix-up, it was a good kind of foolish, since I was an hour early, not late.

But without casting any aspersions on Jen-Ex, I will say none of that would’ve happened if I’d been in my car, since MY dashboard clock showed the correct time. Of course the reason it did was because I hadn’t changed it from last year.