Thursday, June 29, 2006

Two Public Behaviors

While stranded at Elway Toyota today, I noted the rather strange behavior people with time on their hands: a fellow there and yours truly. I thought I was picking up my car, but it was not ready, because it lacked an oil change. This time, I had not brought a book with me to read, as I had in the morning while waiting for the shuttle. (The book was Human Rights, Human Dignity by John Warwick Montgomery.) So, I had about a half an hour to spend (not kill). As Thoreau wrote, you cannot kill time without wounding eternity. So, I staked out a seat as far from the TV as possible. (My T-B-Gone did not work; it's a fallen world.) I scavaged some parts of the newspaper, which I quickly exhaused, finding myself reading obituaries of people I did not know. I was even tempted (briefly) to read a brochure on oil filters--it was getting that bad.

During this time, a stocky dark many was pacing the area in squeeky tennis shoes. He seldom stopped. He simply walked a circuit in the small area of rooms, squeeking as he went. Apparently, the idea of reading something never occured to him. "Our nature consists in movement. Absolute rest is death" (Blaise Pascal). But at least he wasn't comotose in front of the intelligence evaculator (aka, TV). After about one half hour, I was grateful to hear my name called. What do we do with our unexpected "down time," our "waiting time"?

The next public behavior was more extreme and, while comical, a bit unsettling. As I biked down the bike trail next to Colorado Blvd and Hampden in Denver (listening to Joe Satriani), I saw a man running toward a golf ball in the middle of what is usually a very busy four lane intersection. (There is a golf course next to the street.) He quickly set himself and hit the ball back into the course, then ran across the street. Now, I know nothing about golf, except that many are entraced by it; but I do know that a grown man risked life and limb by running into the middle of the street to hit a small white ball back onto a grassy area. Playing golf in traffic! It may be an new extreme sport. As Jesus said, "Where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also."

Have you noted any odd public behavior recently?


Ray said...

Me? I'd absorb the one stroke penalty and take a drop. It's not worth getting hit by a car.

Dr Mike said...

The first I understand as odd but the second is perfectly normal behavior. You play the ball as it lies, unless it is out-of-bounds. If I remember Wellshire G.C. well enough, I don't think there are any markers that parallel Hampden, meaning the ball is in-play.

While a student at DS, I jogged across Hampden more than once to play a ball. It seemed to unnerve a lot of motorists when I would hit a 7-iron over four lanes of traffic, but that's what they get for driving on a golf course. If they don't like it, they should take another route.

BTW, you can get tremendous distance on a tee shot by playing it down the middle of Hampden. I almost drove the old campus one day, although admittedly the wind was at my back.

Paul D. Adams said...

The first kind of behavior is not unusual, sadly. Spending 20 years in the Air Force and traveling countless days gave me ample opportunity to witness the same kind of idle, seemingly senseless behavior. Whenever my traveling companions would check into our hotel, the first things of concern were the best restaurant and the nearest mall (both a potential form of gluttony, I might add). Whenever sleep was not essential, the mall or restaurants/bars were the location of choice and chit-chat about whatnot was the order of the day! We frequently occassioned Hawaii and San Diego with each visit accompanied by golf clubs, beach towels, sun tan lotion, etc.

Me? I would bring an extra suitcase of books. Most did not understand why I would choose to stay in my room and read or, when going to the beach, taking books with me and facing the water rather than be entertained by "whatnot." Consequently, by the time I got to grad school (a.k.a. Denver Seminary) I had read approx. 1/2 of the texts assigned, so I was able to go above and beyond in most of my research and knowledge.
It's interesting that we get 168 hrs/per week (24 X 7). Consider:

Average hrs. spent sleeping 7 hrs. X 7 days = 49 hrs.
Average hrs. spent in school/work 8 hrs. X 5 days = 40 hrs.
Average hrs. spent with homework/extracurricular 1.5 hrs. X 5 days + 4 weekend hrs. = 11.5 hrs.
Average hrs. spent with church 2 weekend hrs. + 3 weekday hrs. = 5 hrs.
Average hrs. spent eating 1.5 weekday hrs. X 5 days + 4.5 weekend hrs. = 12 hrs.
Average hrs. of free time 1.5 weekday hrs. X 5 days + 12 weekend hrs. = 19.5 hrs.
Hrs. remaining from total 31 hrs.

How many books could we consume with the 31 hours? Or, how much noise can one generate with squeaky shoes while pacing the floor?

Douglas Groothuis said...


Those are insightful reflections. How much time we do waste! And we cannot get it back.

Can you image the libraries in The New Heaven and New Earth? We can ask Pascal how he would have completed his Pensees, find out who wrote Hebrews, and engage in many other bibliographic enjoyments, but all of this, of course, is secondary to being in the unmediated pressence of the glorious Lord of the universe, who will redeem all that is good in that universe.

Susan said...

The man with the squeaky shoes may have been pondering the great questions of life. One never knows what is going through the mind of a pacing human being. Perhaps, once his car was ready, he drove home to write another chapter in his great work on... ?

Who knows?

Ed Darrell said...

"So, the other day Tom called with a great tee-time at Wellshire, you know, that great 18-hole public course over at Hampden and Colorado. It's a challenge, and I was glad to get an unexpected game in.

"On one of the holes that runs next to the street, I managed to hit it long, but it bounced off the fairway (which seemed a little dry) and across a few lands of traffic. There were no out-of-bounds markers, so the ball was in play. I watched closely, and could time it so that I could get out there and get a shot off between traffic waves. No real danger -- I quick walk, but the way the lights stop traffic there, there was little chance of a stray car.

"I took the turnstile over the fence, waited for a safe break in traffic, jogged to the ball, got set and hit it nicely back onto the fairway. No penalty stroke.

"Then, as I trotted back across the street before the traffic got there, I saw this absolute loon on a bike. I couldn't believe it -- he had headphones on -- headphones in traffic! -- with some new-age guitar player cranked up so loud I could hear it as he passed. When we lived in Maryland, the legislature outlawed listening with headphones on a bike after some clown got smashed by the afternoon C&O freight long the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. I can't imagine what would possess someone to bicycle into traffic with headphones. He was staring so hard at me he nearly ran into the on-coming traffic.

"I can only hope the guy is unmarried and has no family -- a grown man risking life and limb biking through heavy traffic with headphones on and the music cranked up. It may be a new extreme sport -- unintentional chicken.

"You see really odd stuff in public these days."

The link to the site where I found this essay won't paste. I found this fellow's perspective interesting, and different.

Douglas Groothuis said...


What the heck is this? You are so oppositional you will apparently make up anything just to get in a dig.

1. I was not biking in traffic. As I wrote in the post, I was on the bike trail next to traffic. I don't ride in traffic.

2. There is no way the guy could have heard my head phones, which do not completely cover my ears. I can hear what I need to.

3. Joe Satriani is not a new age guitarist, for heaven's sake. He is instrumental rock.

BJ the Tornado said...

All the same, Dr. G, the point was made: we all take our risks in life. Whether playing a golf ball on hampden or cycling... there are inherent risks involved. Admitedly I agree with you that the golf shot sounds a little nuts and cycling is pretty beneign (usually)... but, believe it or not, even riding a bike sounds risky to some people. It depends on where you are coming from. A good friend of mine works a dangerous construction job everyday where the risk of injury is quite high. I get the priveledge of teaching philosophy. My job has a much lower risk of physical harm than his and I worry about his safety. Yet to him it is just part of everyday life. Risk taking is a tricky game we all play every time we get in a car or just wake up in the morning and leave our house. I'm not saying there is not wisdom and discernment involved in such choices -- but perhaps one person's risk is another person's bike ride.

As you may recall, I ran with the bulls in Pamplona during the Festival de San Fermin. Clearly a risky activity. But it was the right choice for me at the time. Perhaps some day I'll look back and think it was a ridiculous, unneccesary risk. But, considering people die riding their bikes everyday, perhaps someday you'll think the same thing with your cycling.

(but probably not).

Douglas Groothuis said...


Not many die riding bike trails off the street--low impact trails in the city--unless it is of a heart attack, which could happen anywhere.

You and I disagree with this matter. There is no reason to take unnecessary risks when life itself in a fallen world is risky enough. Risks to help others--like Michelle and Jedd serving God in Uganda--is one thing. Risks for thrills is another thing. Take the promised land for God; don't take risks for self.

Ed Darrell said...

Do you think that guy was writing about you, Dr. Groothuis? Unfamiliar as I am with Denver, I wasn't sure.

But Mr. Strawser has a point. I'm safer scaling a rock canyon wall in Cottonwood Canyon, Utah, statistically, than you are riding with earphones. We might chuckle over a guy playing the lie he got, but those are the rules. Generally someone who plays by the rules is complimented.

Perspectives differ. I wish I were as ambitious as you in bicycle riding. But reconsider the headphones, will you? I need your contrariwise thoughts from time to time, to remind me there are other perspectives on life.

BJ the Tornado said...

Good point (as usual) Dr. Truth. When viewed in the light you cast it taking "unneccesary risks" certainly seems selfish (particularly when compared with the selfless, noble, and sacrificial risk-taking of those like the McFatters). You make a good case and I really don't have much of an argument I can respond with.

But I do wish to just make this (small) point: there are lots of risks that we all (almost constantly) take that could easily be seen as unneccessary. Yes, it may be simply a matter of degree -- but my point is only that we are contstantly taking all kinds of risks of all kinds of varieties. I think trying to divide them neatly into acceptable risks and unacceptable risks (or neccessary and unneccessary risks) just doesn't work. It's not that simple and we can't live our lives trying to always aim for safety -- that's not the only factor to weigh. Clearly, there are some acts (like running with the bulls, admitedly) that are just flat-out flagrant risks that one could easily avoid and on the other side of the coin there are also clearly some other acts (like getting out of bed) that are obviously neccessary acts even if they carry a small (almost negligible) ammount of risk. But the vast range of acts that fall in between those two extremes (both of the risk scale and the neccessary scale) are tricky to call. I think we are often unaware of how risky many of our activities may be (or, perhaps, we are sometimes overly concerned with what seems to be a risky act that is actually fairly safe -- and so on).

Douglas Groothuis said...

BJ says:

"I think trying to divide them neatly into acceptable risks and unacceptable risks (or neccessary and unneccessary risks) just doesn't work."

But ethically we must do this; otherwise we are poor stewards of God's property (us). Borderline cases do not exclude us from making judgments, which, in most cases, are not difficult.

For example, I see so many idiots in Denver on motorcycles without helmuts. (This is still the wild west, apparently.) A human head crashing into pavement or the metal of s car or another motorcyle just doesn't fare very well. So, why not wear that helmut? If you are killed or maimed, it affects friends and family adversely as well. So, such activity is not only reckless for oneself, it is selfish regarding others.

The same goes for bicycle helmuts, although the case is not as extreme. I started wearing a helmut back in 1979 and have always done so since. Twice during that time I took nasty falls where I banged my head on the concrete. Without the helmut, I might not be able to teach Kant anymore--or worse.

It is also stupid to go long periods of time without routine medical check ups. You are risking your health for no reason. As one who hates going to the doctor, I preach to myself.

Do you see my point here?

Moreover, there are plenty of intellectual and altruistic risks worth taking that do not involve risking life and limb. Serving in Africa is an altruistic risk. Standing in front of a group of unbelievers who want to tear your arguments apart is an intellectual disk, as it debating a smart unbeliever. Of course, one must be prepared for these kinds of ventures, otherwise it is foolhearty and not courageous.

nancy said...

During my bookless stint at John Elway Dodge, I spent the time purusing the new car floor to see if it evoked the same covetous desires that flare up every time I enter the Apple store at Aspen Grove.

Alas, the fancy Mercedes was trimmed in fine woods and cheap plastic. I'd rather own a Mac
Book Pro.

As far as the golf goes, I have bad memories of Wellshire. It is the one place where my temper flared to the breaking point - quite literally the one wood breaking over my knee! Some might view my public behavior as far worse than taking a shot off the pavement of Hamden.