Monday, August 10, 2009
Excuse me, sir? Sir? SIR!
Between 1947 and 1956, some 900 rolled-up documents, including passages from the Hebrew Bible, were discovered in eleven caves on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea. The documents have come to be known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Bedouin shepherds found the scrolls and for a time displayed them in their tents. Eventually, the scrolls, and other artifacts in the caves, found their way to scholars and anthropologists, with two main results:
a) The world has an amazing source to tell us how things were in post- biblical times and how two of the world's great religions had their geneses.
b) I can't go to the mall without someone accosting me, in Peggy's words, asking me if I know what the Dead Sea Scrolls are (pedantic to a fault, I always answer 'yes!' and then offer a free five-minute history lecture to the slack-jawed teenaged accoster). When they get their jaws working in synch again, they offer to rub some sort of ointment on my skin. Apparently, it's obvious from 'way down by Costington's, The Leftorium, and Noiseland Arcade that my skin seems to require defoliation or exfoliation, whichever.
The only reason I went to the mall yesterday was that it was going to be around 117° here, including the heat index and the humidity factor and so forth. I thought we could walk around the mall and get some exercise in, but boy, was I wrong again.
Every ten feet or so, the mall has strategically laid out kiosks, from behind which jump salespeople who have all sorts of questions for me. Do I know what the Dead Sea Scrolls are? Does anyone in my family require math tutoring? Would I like to purchase a time share on a condo in Clovis, New Mexico? Am I satisfied with my cell service? My hi-speed internet? My cable provider? And, without fail, would I like a free sample of bamboo chicken on a pine toothpick?
I have a friend who used to make it a habit to drive four hours to West Virginia and sit through ninety-minute sales pitches for an acre of land in Appalachia and a pre-fab home starting "as low as" $79,000, just to get a 13" TV set. I know people who willingly entertain door-to-door siding, home improvement, encyclopedia and pest removal pitchers just to have someone come in the house, sit on the sofa and have a Dr Pepper with them. There are those who will stop eating their dinner because they answered the phone to hear someone in some distant state wearing a headset say to them, "I'm not selling anything today...this call is for information only."
I should be getting more out of life. I ought to go back to the mall and get some of those pictures with inspirational mottoes, but I just can't run that gauntlet any more. Suggestions?