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Another Day in the Country

Intense negotiations

© Another Day in the Country

We had some rain in Ramona, and we are on our way to Abilene to exercise.

“I know the first thing Doug will ask is, ‘How much rain did you get?’” I say to Jess. “I haven’t the foggiest.”

Last time we’d talked about rain in Ramona, Doug had said, “We need a runoff rain, to fill the ponds.”

According to him, drizzles weren’t enough.

“Those cows have to have to have something to drink while they are out there eating,” he continued, grinning.

I wrote his quote down in my trusty smart phone. (I’ll use this sometime in a column, I thought to myself.)

Meanwhile, the rain has stopped — almost at the Ramona city limits — and Jess is trying to get her windshield wipers to turn off in the right spot.

New cars talk to you; old cars you’ve got to communicate with them.

“This car is getting old,” she says. “It takes a while to get the wipers down and not stuck half-way down on the windshield.” 

Negotiating with her car as we drive, she offers encouraging words like, “you can do this,” as she turns the wiper switch off and on; “almost, you’ve got it”; and finally, “good job, you made it,” as if she were potty training a toddler.

Actually, that’s what her car is — a reverse toddler. She has to coax it to start, holding her breath, wondering whether it’s in the mood to go anywhere. And this is after she put in a new fuel pump.

There’s a warning chirp from something mechanized. Jess looks at the dashboard where a light is blinking.

“Yes, thank you,” she says to the car, “We are low on windshield wiper fluid.”

“What kind of a car gets hyper vigilant about wiper fluid,” I grumble under my breath.

But I know the answer: It’s her car! It will beep every few miles all the way to Abilene as if we were running low on gas.

Meanwhile, Jess is soothing her car, patting the dash, telling it that it’s a good car all in all, and thanking Tony for this 1999 “sedan” as he called it, that’s still doing its part.

All of this reminds me of a Robin Williams skit that I still chuckle over.

If women ran the world, there would be peace, Robin said. “We’d just have intense negotiations every 28 days.”

Intense negotiation seems to be a lost art these days.

We seem to be a people so entrenched in our own ideology, our own belief system, our own political party that we’re incapable of seeing a bigger picture, starting with our own neighborhood.

It seems we have forgotten, or never learned, the vital art of negotiation. 

Negotiating isn’t easy. The bigger the group involved, the more diverse, the more difficult to find common ground.

If you were the last man standing, you’d still have to negotiate with yourself as to the right course to take, given the various needs you have.

You need this skill. Do you have it? Did you ever learn to negotiate?

Life springs from the ground roots up, so if we don’t have it, it’s no wonder Congress has become a bickering brawl instead of an organized body working for the common good of the nation.

Is no one in government looking beyond the next election? Do they stop and think that we must be self-sufficient as well as global and we need to find common ground or lose everything we’ve stood for? 

Our leaders — no, all of us — need a crash course in “negotiating peace, commerce or any subject of mutual concern,” as Webster explains it in the dictionary.

We need to learn how to negotiate, skillfully, honestly, peacefully.

If we look at history, we quickly realize there always will be bullies — warmongers wanting more for themselves.

Our times of peace on this planet have been few and far between. We have been lucky that it’s been decades since war was waged on our soil, but we’ve been fighting for freedom somewhere in the world for as long as I can remember.

Negotiation usually doesn’t work with the greedy Gusses of this world. We are watching that being played out in the Ukraine as we speak.

We have to pull together to put a stop to it, whether it’s in a schoolyard, the business sector, or the world. 

I’m always wondering what it will take for America to pull together. What will stop the bickering?

In Ramona, it takes a massive power outage, a horrible windstorm, lightening striking, a tragic death in the family, or a plague of locusts.

We live in a democracy that is bound to fail if we don’t respect it, take care of it, watch out for our neighborhood, be kind to each other, obey the rules we’ve put in place, consider another point of view, mind our own business, do our part, and when we make a boo-boo, apologize and try to make it right, somehow, on another day in the country.

Last modified March 23, 2023

 

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