Delaney: The Beholder's Eye

May 15, 2017

There’s a book in my library titled Whisperers by a Russian historian of the Stalin era in which everyone tells on everyone else. And I was reminded of it recently, when I set out for a hike with my dog Fred in my rusty old pick-up truck. I love the old wreck and when Fred and I go places in it, we’re kings of the road.

A few weeks ago Fred and I climbed into the old truck – well, I climbed and Fred jumped – and rattled down the road to Mt. Philo. It’s a beautiful spot and the parking lot was nearly full of shiny new cars. My rusty old truck stood out like the proverbial sore thumb.

Fred and I headed on up the mountain, took in the awesome view at the top, and once back down we went to the parking lot. Minding our own business, we got into the truck and headed for home. Then the fun began.

We’d been home just a few minutes when I heard a loud pounding on the front door, then on the side door. And when I opened it, there stood a state trooper, tall and unsmiling, with a wide brimmed hat, olive green uniform, and a sidearm.

He stepped right in, inspected the kitchen closely, and asked if the old truck out front was mine. Wise guy that I am I had a few smart answers in mind but settled on “yes.” Then he told me there’d been a few recent break-ins around town; that some of the other Philo hikers thought my old truck in the parking lot looked “suspicious,” and they’d phoned the state police with their suspicions and my license number.

It’s said that beauty’s in the eye of the beholder. I’d say “suspicious” is as well, and I’d hate to think we’re edging into a brave new world where old pick-ups aren’t allowed!

I’ve heard that bookstores these days can hardly keep up with demand for George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984 – and for a while after my visit with the trooper, a world with Big Brother always watching felt a little too close for comfort.

Still, in the end, I have to admit that what happened to me, Fred and the truck really is pretty funny – no doubt about it. But I have to hope it’s a rare event.