SOUR GRAPES: Walking the streets

Jim Magdefrau

I walked down main street in Belle Plaine to get supplies, when someone walked out of a nearby establishment and observed, “You look like you’re a teacher.”

“No” I shrugged. “A student.”

Or a 40th-year senior.

* * *

A few days before, I wasn’t walking, I was running down the streets of downtown Cedar Rapids. I had a meeting in the Linn County Courthouse, helping to narrow down the field of candidates for nomination as an associate judge. I think the bar I have to jump to take part on the commission is figuring out downtown parking. I can’t read the signs or figure out the multiple lanes and markings. A crew was painting new markings as I was driving down the bridge. So just went down four more blocks to the ramp I’m familiar with.

Once in the basement, we had a good group. There were people in the judicial system, judges and ordinary citizens, like myself. Small talk centered on music. My biggest takeaway was on cookies. The success of a good cookie depends on the temperature of the butter. This is a theory I’ll have to try.

As for music, one of the judges liked to exchange thoughts on it with me, and he made a point to make a 60s lyrical reference when he could in the interviews, which always brought a knowing grin and nod from me.

The meeting ended and it was time to head back to the car. To paraphrase, it was raining like a cow relieving himself on a flat rock. My umbrella was safely in my car. So it was a four-block jog, taking advantage of as many canopies as I could.

Leaving the ramp, I had to get out of the car and study up on how to insert my ticket into the machine, and then my card into the machine. I couldn’t do either. The attendant came out to help me. I’m sure she thought, “This guy just helped pick a judge, and he can’t even figure out a parking meter.”

Music was still on my mind: “Don’t follow leaders. Watch the parking meters.”

She was courteous. I’m sure they get a lot of small-town folks trying to figure out the big city ways. The song running in my head, “Big city, turn me loose and set me free.”

The drive home in the rain? “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” came to mind. When I saw my basement, it was “Five feet high and rising.”

As I write, there’s sunshine and a shaved ice truck parked outside of my park. Everything works out eventually. “I can see clearly now. The rain has gone.”

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