True tales of men behaving oddly in moving vehicles.
It is a given that some men revere motor vehicles. It is also a given that some men are morons. When these characteristics are found in the same man (or boy), trouble ensues, as these three news stories reveal:
LAFAYETTE, Colo.—“Colorado authorities said they have no idea what led a man to drive his pickup truck into three mobile homes and said a 30-year-old man was acting like a human ‘pinball machine.’”
This lead of a recent Associated Press report, quoted here verbatim, is breathtaking in its imprecision. One is left to scratch his head while trying to piece together exactly what it is that happened.
Perhaps a group of “authorities”—oh, say, a wetlands specialist, a community organizer, a Chamber of Commerce member, and a parents rights advocate—find conversation stalling during a luncheon at a Colorado Denny’s. One of them posits a sociological riddle involving a man, a truck, three mobile homes, and a series of collisions.
From there, each of the authorities offers a plausible scenario. The Chamber of Commerce man, who is 30, fancies himself something of an actor, and why not? He recently played Doc Gibbs in a community theater presentation of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town.”
On this day, as it turns out, he has neglected to take his psychiatric medications. To mime the action of the man’s truck bashing the mobile homes, he leaps up and throws himself about the restaurant, flapping his arms, flipper-like, and crying, “Ding-ding-ding!”
“Good heavens, Mike!” the wetlands specialist gasps. “What’s gotten into you?”
Mike pauses, breathless. “Well, I figure the guy who drove the truck into these trailers probably looked like a pinball machine.”
“You mean a pinball,” the wetlands specialist says, primly wiping his lips with the collar of his shirt. “A pinball smashes into things. A pinball machine does not. It just sits there, blinking, not unlike a man whose life partner has just walked in on him while he’s canoodling with a…”
“Well, wait,” Mike mutters. “The AP lead said ‘like a human ‘pinball machine.’”
“Yes,” the wetlands man says. “But I think that we can all agree that the AP lead is—how do I put this in a loving way?—appallingly written.”
In the end, none of the authorities gathered at the Denny’s has any idea why the man in the truck did what he did, and so they give up and order the chocolate cake with four spoons.
This is not an implausible scenario. On the other hand, it is also conceivable that the AP simply continues to show a dispiriting decline in its capacity to report news cogently.
This would make sense. Reporters are a sensitive lot, and what with everyone screaming these days about the “lamestream media” it is sometimes all a reporter can to do get out of bed, pack a few intransitive verbs and a healthful lunch into his bag, and slog to the office.
To expect him, on top of that, to construct coherent leads day after day is not only impracticable but also sadistic.
One the other other hand, there are limits to compassion. The second sentence of this dispatch reads: “The 30-year-old had two girls in his 1990 Chevy Astro Sunday when police said he rammed his car into units at the Banecks Mobile Home Park in Lafayette, in Denver’s northern suburbs.”
This is the second time in two sentences that the man’s age has been given. And the sentence suggests that the man and the girls were in his car at the precise moment that police were saying he rammed it.
It is feasible to think that the man in the Astro had found, and entered, a portal in the time/space continuum, allowing him to exist in several places at once, including in a questionably written AP lead.
It is more realistic, however, to assume that our harried AP reporter meant to write, “…in his 1990 Chevy Astro Sunday when, police said, he rammed his car…”
Well, one would go on indefinitely in this insufferably self-righteous and nitpicky way were it not for the fact that one’s attention is suddenly seized by the story itself.
The man in the car—who, remember, had with him two small girls—smashed into a chain link fence, a concrete culvert, and a parked pickup truck. Eventually he pulled over, ran, and then jumped into a Dumpster. Police found him there.
The AP reports that the man faces “several charges,” including, it is to be hoped, one of being an absolute cliché. Hiding in a Dumpster? Really? One idly wonders if there is a how-to manual for rookie criminals, the first listing in the “Foolproof Hiding Places” chapter of which reads, “1. Dumpster. No one will find you there! Even if they lift the lid and spot you they’ll just think you’re another piece of garbage!”
MELBOURNE, Australia—A valet employed by the Crown Casino here, perhaps distracted by the clanging bells and flashing lights of the slot (but not pinball) machines, mistakenly handed the keys fitting a Ferrari sports car to a man not its owner, the Melbourne Herald Sun reported recently.
The man in receipt of the keys, who is 32 and went unnamed by the paper, drove the automobile for six hours before being arrested by police at a gas station in Broadmeadows, a suburb of Melbourne. He was charged with a single count of theft of a motor vehicle.
Broadmeadows has a population of roughly 10,000, half of who hail from countries other than Australia, according to an entry on Wikipedia, the site with things written by people who know everything about everything.
An officer on the Broadmeadows police force, who goes by the hero-of-romantic-fiction name of Sgt. Trevor Thorn, told the Herald Sun that in that suburb, the stolen Ferrari 430F Spider, a model which dealer Web sites suggest retails for up to a half million U.S. dollars, “did look out of place.”
This, it seems plain, is a story of men doing what men do best: buying overly expensive cars; giving the wrong items to the wrong people; stealing vehicles and wheeling them around town until caught when filling them with gas; and joining police forces in order to fulfill the promise inherent in manly, porn-star-ish names such as Trevor Thorn.
RED DEER, Alberta, Canada—Showing a resourcefulness, not to mention imprudence, endemic to the male of the species, a lad of eight piloted his mother’s SUV around an apartment building parking lot, leaving wreckage in his wake, according to a report in the Red Deer Advocate (“Central Alberta’s Daily Newspaper”).
The boy was alone in the vehicle. He smashed it into the building and into a parked car. He nearly hit his mom, who had given him the car’s keys so that he could retrieve something from it.
As it turned out, no one was injured in the incident and no charges are pending. This is as it should be. The boy is already charged with growing up to become a man, and this is—don’t you think?—punishment aplenty.