Rules Of The Road


Despite what you might think, it is always a feel good for me when one of my children opt to be parental and look out for my well-being and that of their mother. It really is role reversal, but they both fall into the trap of thinking it is their responsibility to ensure we are safe and out of harms way. Truth-be-told, that is a lot of self-absorbed responsibility. I don’t always think it is warranted. Their mother is responsible and because she is responsible, I don’t have a choice. Neither of my kids have the wherewithal to make either parent march to the beat of their drum. Of course, I’d like to think they should trust us to make good decisions.


Neither my son or my daughter refer to their mother as the “General”, but both fully understand why I ascertain that she relishes the role I have subscribed for her. It really isn’t a role. It is more like type casting.


Yesterday morning at 6:36 a.m., my son sent me the following text message: “Be careful on the roads this morning. Watch for high water.” Obviously, common sense would dictate that I’d do all of the things he suggested, but I guess it is always nice to have a reminder. Actually, I immediately looked toward the plate glass window from the 16th floor of my hotel room. The curtain was drawn back and the picturesque view was breath taking. It appeared to be raining, but it didn’t seem unmanageable.


Twenty minutes later, in Houston morning traffic, I had the sense that my son had offered wise counsel. I’m not sure about the high water, but the need to be careful was almost an understatement. It was absolutely a madhouse with folks trying to get out of downtown. None of the traffic was moving at an anticipated pace.


In fact, it felt a lot like groundhog’s day. It seems like I was duplicating the very same experience that had been mine the previous day getting out of Austin. Under no circumstances, should it have taken me three hours to travel thirty miles. I had the thought yesterday morning as traffic was stopped on the fly-over getting on to IH-10 that I was in for another time intensive commute to work even though the distance didn’t warrant the wait.


Do you remember the childhood game of pick-up sticks? I played the game as a kid and my children both played the game as kids. It is also a game that adults sometimes play, particularly if they have kids.


The rules are simple, but they are rules nevertheless:

Hold all the sticks, except the black, in your hand and let them fall. Then try to be the player to earn the most points in the game of Pick Up Sticks. The name of this fun game pretty much says it all. Earn 50 points for blue sticks, 40 points for green sticks, 25 points for red sticks, and 10 points for yellow. Use the black stick to help you pick up the other sticks.

“Be careful, if you move more than one stick at a time your turn is up and the next player could earn more points than you. Pick Up Sticks is a great game for families with young children. See how competitive your family can get when faced with being the first to get 500 points and picking up the most sticks. Good luck playing Pick Up Sticks. Try it with your friends and family today”.


Pick up sticks? They go every different direction when you drop them. Somehow in the midst of Houston traffic yesterday morning, I was reminded of the game of pick up sticks.


I guess I’m a strict constructionist when it comes to following the rules. I got my driver’s license at the age of fourteen. Consequently, I’ve been driving for a very long time. If memory serves me correctly, when emergency vehicles are traveling and you hear the sound of sirens and see flashing lights in your review mirror, you need to pull to the right and stop. Emergency vehicles can then move pass you on the left. Isn’t that one of the rules of the road?


Apparently the rules have changed or Houston drivers are oblivious to how the game actually is supposed to work. Actually, the fellow driving the first emergency vehicle wasn’t playing by the rules either. I pulled to the right and stopped. Did I mentioned that mine was the only stopped vehicle? A police truck with siren going and lights flashing was immediately to my left and to the left of the police car was several other lanes. It was a quagmire of folks moving slowly threading their way down to the eye of the needle to get on to IH-10.


I guess you could say that one siren deserves another. The process repeated itself several times over. Soon there were several other emergency vehicles trying to gain momentum getting to what I later discovered were several wrecks involving large trucks strewn all over IH-10.


That’s when the realization hit me that it looked like the game of pick-up sticks. Cars and trucks were scattered all over the roadway. Somehow maneuvering through the bottleneck of traffic as law enforcement and emergency crews attempted to keep traffic flowing was a slow and tedious process.


As it turned out, I was only 30 minutes late getting to the office. I don’t know when I last thought of the game Pick Up Sticks, but the memory put a smile on my face and took me back to long ago.


All My Best!








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