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The Money You Deserve

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Most COTA Route 2 riders agree: real life beats Bread and Circuses.

December can be a tricky month for us in Ohio. Some years, we can have weather that's quite mild, marked only by shorter periods of daylight and cooler temperatures. Other years, it can be frigid, with locals proclaiming that it's “too cold to snow”—a bit of wisdom I'm skeptical to embrace. Still other years we can find ourselves getting some of the earliest snowstorms of the season, with snow accumulating faster than it can be removed and even main roads being perilous to traverse.

December 2005 was a special treat, being each one of these at some point during the month. “If you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes; it'll change by then,” goes another bit of local lore. I suppose that any source of wisdom can be right at least some of the time if it's sufficiently prolific.

A snowstorm descended upon the city of Columbus as afternoon gave way to evening on December 8. I was attending an Open House of the Center for Interdisciplinary Law and Policy Studies (CILPS) at The Ohio State University's Moritz College of Law. As is typically true at professional-social events, attendees were treated with all types of company, from the fascinating to the tedious, from the warm to the aloof, and from the wise to the absurd.

I exercised the opportunity to get a few moments' respite from a deadly combination of warm, fascinating, and absurd. As I stood looking through the glass wall that afforded a view of High Street's New and (greatly) Improved “Campus Gateway” district, the snow began to fall. Across the street, I could see the University bookstore, a two-story Barnes & Noble. Antique-style streetlights illuminated the sidewalks, covered with students enjoying an evening out. Large white snowflakes descended evenly on to the scene below, sticking to everything.

The open house ended and I walked out to the street to catch the bus to bring me back home. I sat in the back, reading the first article of the inaugural issue of I/S (Information Society), the academic journal co-published by CILPS. People on the bus were more friendly than usual, total strangers talking about the snow and their plans to see family and friends in the weeks ahead.

After several stops, the pleasant conversation around me faded to background sound that in no way interfered with my reading. We were behind schedule due to being stopped in the Short North and slipping further behind as we went because the snow was accumulating rapidly as passengers getting on the bus informed others. A voice demanded my attention, causing me to lose my place in my reading. I looked up to see a girl unlikely to be eighteen, making her way down the aisle of the full bus, moving toward me in the back. She was loud. She was talking on a mobile phone. He-said, she-said, I-said. Inconsequential gossip, delivered more unartfully than one might deem possible.

She sat down near me, a single empty seat between us and continued chattering away. I focused on her voice and tuned it out. As I returned to my reading, The Voice disappeared from my consciousness entirely. On coming to the next article of the journal, I discovered that not only had my sense of peace been restored, but so had others'; The Voice was finished with her conversation and sat there, blankly staring at whatever else was going on around her.

Snow accumulation was having an effect beyond our ability to stick to the published schedule; we were having some trouble sticking to the road. As we approached a stop, a group of three or four men stood to exit. As the driver braked, we lost traction again and the men standing took a defensive posture to hold their balance. Perhaps a second later, all returned to normal and as the pleasant conversation broke up, The Voice added some wisdom of her own.

“If y'all would've fell down, y'all'd get paid.” I daresay that I visibly cringed as her illiterate sentence entered my ears and began its vicious attack on my nerves. She looked down at the floor, covered with the water from snow melted away from passengers' boots. “Especially,” she added astutely, “with a wet floor.”

I considered using this space to rail against the sense of entitlement that has overtaken reason in the minds of so many people. I considered attacking the advertisements of ambulance-chasers pandering to this mindset and trying to woo people into playing the litigation lottery. Instead, I will share with you the happy conclusion to this story.

The Voice was ignored.

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2006-10-19 09:07 AM
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