A Warning Sign
It seems this week has been full of warnings. Wind warnings, rainfall warnings, the oil light in my car, all sorts of things seem to be shouting “CAREFUL!!!” at me.
Recently I was sitting in a local parking lot (in my car obviously, I wasn’t just sitting there on the ground or anything). I was patiently waiting my turn to continue on the path through the parked cars when someone who was parked beside me reversed out of their stall. I suppose she simply didn’t look behind her and so she hit me. She got out of her car, stomped over to check the rear of her vehicle and glared at me, clearly outraged, before shouting “This is a BRAND NEW CAR!!!” and storming back to her driver’s seat. I don’t want to imply guilt here but IT WAS ALL HER FAULT. For some reason the horn in my van isn’t working right now so I couldn’t give her any signal I was there, but I doubt she would have had enough time to do anything differently anyway. Luckily for me, my own car is far from new and has ‘seen some action’, so I didn’t need to be cross. In fact, the poor lady had to wait a few extra moments while I sat there laughing hysterically until I could manage to drive.
That reminds me of another occasion a few years ago. My mum is the nicest person on earth and NEVER uses the horn in her car. She used to go mad when one or other of us would lean across and “take the initiative” for her. English to her core she doesn’t do conflict – she’d rather have a nice cup of tea than an argument. However on one rare occasion we were in that same situation – someone was backing out of a parking spot and coming straight for us. She must have panicked because she actually hit the horn. Unfortunately it was so little used all it managed to produce was a sound like an elderly emphysema patient first thing in the morning. Needless to say it didn’t do the trick and a small bump ensued.
Even earlier than that, my grandpa had an ANCIENT van which he used to deliver produce. When I say ancient I mean Fred Flintstone ancient. In the 50’s vehicles were pretty basic anyway – no cup holders or heated seats to be found and I suspect this was somewhere in the order of a motorized Victorian pram. It too was horn-less so when he approached somewhere with limited vision – a sharp turn or a little hill on a narrow country road, he would simply open the (sliding) window and lean out and yell “HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”. (On a side note the number plate was POO 61).
My point is that what is a warning to one may not be a warning to another. When I tell my kids I’m very tired I’m basically saying “watch it!” but they never seem to get the message. When the smoke alarm goes off in our house, there’s no longer any panic – everyone just assumes dinner is ready. We’ve all got so used to being told of imminent danger we no longer really register.
Do you remember the Doomsday Clock? Now there’s a great example of reducing panic by the use of the mundane. I always felt Doomsday would be better represented by a giant tap about to drip – the need to panic depicted by the size of the drip. Oh, hang on, that’s utterly mundane too. Our brains just aren’t anywhere near capable of grasping the enormity of the end of all that we know. And that is why there was only a few gathered at the stable when Jesus was born. Who would think something as unremarkable as a poor woman having a baby could herald the death of death itself and salvation for us all.