City Beat: It's not hard to do nice things

City Beat: It's not hard to do nice things

January 3rd, 2013 by Barry Courter in Life Entertainment

Driving down the road the other day, I nearly ran over a drive shaft. It was just resting there in the middle of the lane, missing a lot of other parts such as the rest of the car. It was not as weird as the night a group of us rounded a curve to discover a cow standing in the middle of the road, or the time I ran over the hood of a car in the middle of my lane, but it was rather odd.

Several thoughts ran through my feeble brain as I swerved to miss it.

First, since there was no other car anywhere within sight, I wondered how the vehicle the shaft was once attached to got away. Perhaps it fell off a junk truck on its way to the recycling center.

My next thought was how lucky I was not to have hit it. Then I realized I should have stopped and gotten it out of the way so no one hit it, but by this time I was well on my way.

I have to admit this is a new way of thinking for me, and it made me realize the different ways people can see things. In the past, it never would have occurred to me to stop. I didn't drop it so it wasn't my problem, right? And, I was already past the potential problem.

What if the person who does unfortunately hit it is a family member or friend? What if it's a total stranger, and does it really matter? I should have stopped, and hopefully I will next time.

My father-in-law lives on a deceptively dangerous curve on Jenkins Road in East Brainerd. People constantly underestimate it, and over the years several people have run over his mailbox and/or fence. One guy managed to take out the box and about 40 yards of fence.

I once suggested he build the next mailbox out of steel pipe and concrete. He said he would feel terrible if someone was injured or killed hitting such a structure. I have to admit the thought never occurred to me. I was focused on some sort of Charles Bronson vigilante justice.

Another thing I've never understood is why some drivers refuse to let people over on the freeway. You know the type: You need to switch lanes for whatever reason, and you turn on your blinker and the guy next to you speeds up to close the gap between him and the car in front of him.

It's not a race and truthfully, unless you're on a dead-end street, the chances are really good that there is somebody in front of you. I have found myself wanting to hit the gas but now realize it's just as easy to let off and let the person over.

It's part of my new pay-it-forward philosophy I'm taking into the new year.

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354