“Who Is Running The Show?” By John Watts

I had to get this one final text out.  Because in just one more light I would be turning to the interstate and then it would be too dangerous to use my cell phone.  My wife needed to know if I was running late.  And I was programmed to feel guilty.

“I will be bate for the baseball game” I typed. Dang it.  I typed it again.  “I will be—“ my finger accidentally hits the turn off button.

I forget where I am now in relation to the road around me.  I try typing all over again.  A car horn blasts me from behind.

Oops.  It’s green.  Been that way awhile.

I revved my car engine and hit the pedal.  I glanced at the driver next to me, more as a restless bid for reassuring myself that I wasn’t alone on this vast highway and to gaze upon another’s conscience.

But the driver in the other lane was completely engrossed in her hand held device—(female drivers are much worse at doing this aren’t they?) and she continued merrily tapping away and flicking her thumb side to side with great flair.

I drove on to the retail store to pick up new shoes.  The clerk barely looked up when I handed my pair of size 13s to purchase.  The transaction was done in a flawlessly smooth rhythm devoid of any social warmth.

“Have a good day.”  “You have a good day too.”

Never was any eye contact made.  I couldn’t tell you what he looked like.

Now I was at the point of my travels where I needed to hit the toll road to save time.  Since I had no EZ Pass I needed to go to the cash only line.  I read the sign and prepared to break my 5 dollar bill and get change back.

The man in the toll booth never looked up at me.  He had a small screen slanting up from his desk with ESPN sports scores.  Seems he had all the transactions down to a science.  He nodded his head as he gave me my change with no wasted motion.

Later in that evening I boarded the metro train to go to the pro baseball game.

All of us riders stood in the middle of rush hour, grim faced and resigned to our fates.  The standers held firmly to the nearest steel pole and looked far into the distance past while the sitters rejoiced in the luck of carving out such good seats.  Occasionally some furtive gazing would occur from a sprinkling of riders when stations were reached.  Otherwise everyone simply retreated to their IPADS and hand held devices.  There were secret conversations, business deals sewn up, and crazy war games played in virtual reality universes.

I met my buddies at the ball game.  We had the most expensive tickets right behind home plate.  This meant that we had a good chance of being extensively filmed during the televised broadcast of the game.  For the first few minutes there was some high fives and greetings.  The intense colors of the green grass and the brown base diamond lines were thrilling to the eyes.

But soon enough everyone around me was pulling out their hand held devices again.  Some pulled out miniature headsets.  It was business as usual.

The event that we had paid good money to see was now ebbing into the back drop.  During the 7thinning stretch my friends broke from their devices long enough to eat a hot dog and drink a beer.  Facebook updates were shared.  Everyone pretended to be interested in the other person’s updates so that their update would be given its fair airing of attention.

And not much longer after that, before I had time to look back, my group of friends decided it was time to leave the game and were gone.  Those incredible seats were vacated early because of worries of extra innings and getting stuck on the metro too long.

So now I was alone.  Except for the TV camera pointed at me.  This was my solace.  This gave me a momentary thrill as I envisioned my face getting ample TV time as I fidgeted and scrutinized our players going up to bat.

Perhaps I would become the most noteworthy fan in this entire stadium before the night was finished?

So I called my wife to ask her if she was watching.

She was not.  She had DVRed yesterday’s long running HBO show and was watching it.  I then called my Uncle Fred.  But he was in the middle of skyping with his closest friend from college and hung up on me quickly.

I felt letdown.  My  big moment had passed.

On my way out of the stadium I saw the world differently.

Was anyone at the switch and overseeing the show?  Was the radio play by play buying vacation tickets on line in the middle of his play by play?

Taxi’s swerved and careened around the corners of the intersections.  Homeless people and bicyclists were narrowly avoided.  Affluent people on the sidewalks avoided eye contact with dubious looking characters like the plague.

Construction workers almost hit each other with 2 by 4s and ducked just in time.  Window washers teetered on buildings and almost seemed to fall.  Glass estimators carrying huge panes of glass almost crashed into a city bus as they texted their whereabouts to their supervisor.

Everyone was on a tight rope and walking as obliviously as blind old Mr. Magoo from the cartoons I watched as a kid.

How were the clocks running?  Who was operating the trains?  How did the traffic lights work in concert together? Who was guarding our nuclear arsenals?

Maybe it was only thru the divine intervention from an all knowing and all loving God that this madcap, spinning world didn’t just put up an “OUT OF COMMISSION” sign and close for good!  Maybe our Creator has to micromanage a lot more of our day in and day out operations than we ever even began to give Him credit for.

On the way to board my train I saw a blinking sign directly ahead of me that read:  “Please report any suspicious looking activity at this phone number.”

But who—(tell me who) —-was going to look up enough from their own diversions to even DO this?  No longer did I heed the hidden cameras that were supposed to scare me from speeding or the Neighborhood Watch program that was supposed to protect me from a mugging—suddenly I doubted if anyone even cared to watch anymore.

There is simply too much information to dissect and diversions to pursue.

Now I know.  There is no big brother.  There is barely any monitoring of any kind from anyone else.  All lines are busy.  It’s all PRIVATE Theater and private APP’s.  No more top 40 countdown to keep us glued together as a collective body.

How could we bother with it?

Everyone is casting their net out on the vast electronic sea trying to save themselves.  Everyone is vying to feel special and maybe even a tad bit immortal on a good day.

We are all way too busy with our own distractions!


About John Watts

I like to write transcendental community based essays and stories along with photo journalism pieces.
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