When Fun-Poking Gets Serious

Commentary by Dr. Don Newbury

The memory is lodged in my brain’s recesses, as closely as mistletoe clings to mesquite trees. Our parents–neither with educational opportunities beyond high school–provided common sense counsel for my brother and me.

One admonition on their rigid “you-ought-to-do” ladder has remained on the top step. Their advice was sound then and is so today.

Dr. Don Newbury

“Don’t be pokin’ fun at anybody,” they warned, always reminding us that whatever goes around comes around.

Firmly established in the group of folks who soon will be closer to age 90 than 80, I’m sure that we all regularly feel the sharp jabs of embarrassment, accustomed to being on the receiving end of fun-poking. Granted, most perpetrators mean us no harm and don’t intend to leave us red-faced.

Who among us has not been embarrassed by the many tentacles of technology that squeeze us regularly in our daily lives?

I, for one, don’t mind that technology sweeps past us daily. However, I wish it wouldn’t sneer as it hurries toward wherever it’s going. Often, technology goes beyond confounding. We are left in sad puddles, flailing about in ripples of embarrassment.

I was red-faced at a tire store recently.  New tires were needed, so I made my way to the waiting room, where I’d read a newspaper. Soon, I heard an email alert from my smartphone. The message indicated that my right rear tire was deflating.

How great was this, I thought.

Here I was at a tire store when one was most needed.

I thought of a recent automobile trip to Branson, Missouri. It was a rainy drive, marred by the only two flat tires experienced in the past five years. Though I was unlucky to have flats, one occurred near a service station, and the other at a motel where we stayed to break up the trip. Luckily, there was a tire store across the street. What blind hog luck!

Now, let’s return to current topic, however tiring. About 10 minutes after the first alert that my right rear tire was deflating, another one sounded, this time with news that my left rear tire was losing air. During the ensuing 20 minutes, there were emails warning that my front tires also were deflating.

I was in awe. Surely this was the eighth wonder of the world, or perhaps angels were fluttering nearby. Whichever, these timely alerts seemed far beyond the probability of coincidence.

When the tire installer walked in, I told him of the miracle I thought had occurred.

“Well, it proves that Onstar is working on your car,” he laughed, deflating me. “When we put on new tires, we do so one at a time, so owners of cars with Onstar features receive emails each time an old tire is removed. Of course, it’s necessary to deflate tires to remove them from the wheels.”

My face reddening, I whimpered, “Of course, I was just kidding.” But the tire guy knew better.

Don’t assume that we have a late model car. It is a five-year-old Buick purchased three years ago. It has more buttons than a 40-story elevator, most of which we neither touch nor understand. I’d heard about Onstar, but didn’t realize that it had some free features. (We hadn’t opted to pay the monthly fee for additional services.)

Folks may shudder that “spikes in the sky” can turn on us when least expected. I heard recently about a guy whose car skidded on an ice-coated highway. He totaled his car, but nothing else was damaged, nor was he hurt.

The crash activated Onstar, however, and soon, both an ambulance and DPS vehicles were on the scene. The officer walked around the damaged vehicle, documenting details. Then, he issued the befuddled driver a ticket, and he wasn’t fun-poking. Perhaps I should be grateful that I had new tires, and whatever fun-poking directed toward me occurred after I had driven away.

   Dr. Newbury, a longtime university president, continues to write weekly and speak regularly throughout Texas. Contact: 817-447-3872. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Facebook: Don Newbury. Twitter: @donnewbury.

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