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"Out Of The Blue"

(This column appeared in THE LONE STAR ICONOCLAST, Crawford, Texas, and at the week of September 4, 2006.)

Some people are natural "joiners."

They have to be a part of something, it's important to their psyche to belong.

Take your typical, sundry street gang member, for instance. This youth is usually detached if not completely ignored by any parental figure. The gang provides the aegis of "family" structure and order missing in life.

It may be lopsided structure, but it is a "safe" place - till the bullets start to fly.

Many of nature's lower creatures are joiners. Birds travel in flocks; various simian and feline subspecies are community-oriented.

Then, there are those goofy lemmings. These furry little rotund rodents are so intent upon joining in that periodically the communal migration leads directly into the sea. As the lemming is not a creature made adept by nature at the art of swimming, these exercises in follow-the-leader result in the drowning of hundreds, even thousands at a time.

Lemming C follows lemming B follows lemming A wherever it goes, and so on and so forth down the line. Whatever possesses the first one to commit suicide is anyone's guess; the bigger mystery is why the rest of the line follows lemming A into the water.

People often act just like lemmings, too. For instance, where I live most folks drive with lemming tendencies.

Maybe it's because Central Illinois is so full of Rightists, but the biggest majority of people around here just refuse to use the left lane for anything other than making a turn.

I learned to drive in the Chicago area, where it is much more of an aggressive and vigilant activity, so to me each and every lane is fair game at all times.

However, I've lived in a number of regions throughout the United States, Europe and Asia; I've driven over even more of North America and Europe. Nowhere nor never have I observed drivers quite like those around these parts - and I've lived here for 11 years.

Perhaps it's like this where you live:

At every four-way stop or stoplight, where both lanes are straightaways, there will be some 10 vehicles lined up like lemmings in the right lane, but one or none in the left lane.

Despite the option of three or more possible routes to get from, say, Mundane Avenue to Tickytacky Drive, over 90% of the drivers will, every time they get behind the wheel, take the most obvious, highly-traveled route - the one where it's most likely they'll get clogged in a jam or involved in a collision. Even if that road takes them out of their way.

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An erstwhile Philosopher and sometime Educator, Jerry Tenuto is a veteran of seven years service in the U.S. Army. He holds a BS and MA in Broadcast Communications from Southern (more...)
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