By Bob Spiwak
It is not unusual for people from all walks of life, and rides of life as well, to ask me if I am doing a car count on Highway 20 during busy traffic weekends in the valley. The query seems to be coming up more often as the years go by.
The car count is not a new phenomenon. I think I must have started it at least 15 years ago for the newspaper. But long before that, I was doing it for my own satisfaction.
No, that is a lie. It is in truth not satisfying. I speak not of the car count itself, but of a cerebral aberration that has me counting anything in sight, of which there is more than two. Or, grammatically, are more than two.
I am a compulsive counter. It matters naught where, when or what, I will count things. On a recent sunny, hot day I took my camera and went to the back 40 and … wait, should that not be properly “back 40s?” I engaged in an internal argument as to which was correct. I was spared more consternation when I noticed a bumblebee on the blossom of a gloriosa daisy. In the floret next to it was another bee and soon, instead of focusing my Pentax on the flowers, my internal interest glands had me counting the insects and at the same time multiplying the number of bees there would be if the plants numbered 200. Calculating this would require subtraction as well as addition, too much for a hot day, so I switched focus to lilies that could be cut for house flowers. There were seven, so that did not take too long.
I will digress a moment or two — no, more than that — to reveal that of my three children, my son has been afflicted by the same disease. At least it was so when he was young. Let’s see, he is 53 or so, and counting back to his birth date … nah, I have forgotten that too. But just one instance will illustrate his penchant for mentally recording numbers.
We were driving back to the East Coast and at some point my son began counting motorcycles. He has always been, and still is, intrigued by the machines, but hearing numbers coming from the back of the car got rather boring by the time we hit Broken Bow, Nebraska. Luckily, there was a tornado or two in the area and we had to seek shelter in a motel, so the counting ceased at that point. Once again on the road, from Nebraska to Monmouth County, New Jersey, seemed like forever, flavored by numerical sprinkles.
My latest counting marathon was totalling up the bolts of partially split firewood, then the number of splits from each were duly noted as they were re-split. This of course required another complete calculation when they were nicely stacked in the woodshed. As my back got more painful, I cut the starting number to 10 a day, and in this manner could cheat myself a bit and compute an average.
That is the nice thing about computers. I have tried to limit this to 600 words. If you have any doubts, count them. I know that somewhere there will be someone who will do just that.