Posted by: drrozkaplan | February 19, 2010

Hell in a Handbasket

Today an angry (and most likely psychotic) man crashed his small plane into an IRS building in Austin, Texas, killing himself and injuring others, but only after first posting an Internet rant/suicide note and burning down his own home.  Closer to home for me, someone stole an ambulance at rush hour this morning and took it on a joy ride down the expressway near Philadelphia, followed by police who tracked his every move by GPS.  At least there was no patient in the ambulance, unlike the one stolen by a drunk man in Wisconsin last week.  Fortunately,  both ambulances (and the Wisconsin patient) were recovered without incident. Also in the Philadelphia area, a distraught man in a domestic dispute reportedly snatched his infant from the baby’s grandmother and threw her in a river.  Her body has not been recovered.  And today, a huge scandal at our local public high school was reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  Apparently, a class action lawsuit has been filed, alleging that the school is watching students in their homes via the webcams on the Mac laptop computers that the school district has provided to all of its high school students.  Yes, this one sounds awfully far-fetched, but supposedly a boy was punished by the vice-principal for ‘inappropriate behavior’ that occurred in his home, and the vice-principal used pictures from the boy’s web cam as proof that the behavior had occurred, and admitted that the school could turn on the webcams remotely.

How are these events related?  Well, they’re not.  They are just all dramatic, and bizarre, and bad, and they all occurred in the last 48 hours.  Now, I know that bad stuff happens all the time, and obviously I don’t hear about all of it. Or maybe I choose not to pay attention to all of it.  Maybe I am just feeling negative right now.  But really, it feels to me like the world is going to hell in a handbasket today.

Actually, I just wanted to used that phrase ‘hell in a handbasket.’  I love that phrase.  Ir’s funny because we all know what it means, right? Rapidly deteriorating, going down the tubes…  But what does it REALLY mean?  I looked it up to find out its origin, and found out that nobody really knows. What I did come up with is this: handbaskets are light and small baskets, easily transported, so whatever is in them can go quickly, or maybe someone just liked how the phrase sounded- the alliteration.  Hell in a handcart is a similar one.

In any case, it feels like the world is going to hell FAST, whether in a basket or a cart.  Is it my imagination that there is an awful lot of lunacy going on?  Could it be all this snow?  Do we all have cabin fever?  I know the snow is making everyone around here drive like they’re crazy.  I’m almost scared to get in the car over the last week or so.  The roads are still a mess- lots of streets that should have two lanes have only one, there are still slick spots, and my driveway is an absolute nightmare.  You would think that people would slow down and take it easy, maybe leave some extra travel time, but no.  Instead, everyone is twice as aggressive and agitated.

Maybe it’s Vitamin D deficiency from lack of sunlight.  Or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

No, I only wish we could cure all this with a vitamin pill or a light box.  I don’t really have a clue how to fix it.  But I’m going to start with a deep breath and trying to remember to be patient when something or somebody irritates me.  I don’t want to end up blowing a gasket and doing some really crazy thing.  There’s already way too much negative energy out there.  I’m going to try to keep my internal environment calm, and maybe put a little positive energy out if I can.

Here’s my plan to combat craziness in the world.  Let’s all try it tomorrow.  Take deep breaths.  Drive a little more carefully and slowly than you otherwise would.  If someone honks at you, don’t make an obscene gesture or curse under your breath.  Just ignore it.  Smile at anyone you see on the street and say ‘hello’.  Hold the door for people.  Give an extra tip to the person at the coffee counter.  If anyone is mean to you, stand up for yourself, but do it calmly and with a smile.  Call a friend just to say hi.  If we don’t end up having a good day, we can all go back to our usual cranky behavior on Saturday.



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