Sunday, October 11, 2009

IMing—Inanimate Messaging

Do inanimate objects send you messages?

Example 1—The day I was to part with my 1973 Chevy Vega, the muffler fell off as I approached the New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel. By the time I reached the Manhattan corner where I was to give the Vega to my brother-in-law, the car could barely travel more than half a block without stalling.

One of two possible messages was being sent: either the Vega was clearly upset our time together was over after 13 years of loyal service, or it was providing me definitive closure as to why our relationship should end.

Example 2—On the last day of my employment, after 32 years of walking up Park Avenue from Grand Central Terminal, it rained. Hard. It wasn’t a surprise, so I had planned accordingly. Instead of taking a collapsible small umbrella, I toted a large umbrella given to me as a gift by the Dolphin and Swan Hotels for bringing the SPECS conference to the Disney World properties for two years earlier this decade. It was a beautiful umbrella, automatic and vented to withstand wind gusts, with a carved wooden handle on which the logos of the two hotels were etched.

As I stepped out onto the street and opened the umbrella, a wind gust blew the canopy inside out. This was not supposed to happen. As I struggled to right the umbrella, the metal shaft broke in two, leaving me the handle and about three inches of shaft.

No doubt about this message: It was time to take this job and, as the lyric says, shove it. The decapitated handle hangs above my desk at home, a constant reminder that even if people sometimes don’t know when to say goodbye, inanimate objects do.

Example 3—The other night Gilda was catching up on some old newspaper reading. She picked up the NY Times Travel section from Sunday, September 20, and found inside a feature, “36 Hours in Cleveland”!!!

I’m still not sure if the article was telling me to go after the three-month position in Cleveland, or was it saying that 36 hours was more than enough time to spend in the lakefront city. One thing is certain, however. Another inanimate object was sending a message.