HORNER: That other road

Columnist Neil Horner explains his approach to writing this weekly column in the Parksville Qualicum Beach News

People sometimes ask why I don’t use this space to slam the government, hammer on the bad guys or expound upon my views on the issue de jour.

They’re right. I can be pretty silly. I have a hard time summoning the bile to be angry every week.

Oh, sometimes I can harp on an issue: (Can you believe they’re going to spend over $50 billion to put on the Sochi Olympics? $50 BILLION! That’s insane!) But most of the time I figure there’s far too much outrage already in this world.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s usually a pretty sharp point in amongst the cotton candy coating of humour, but I don’t generally like to hammer people over the head with my opinion.

How did you feel when I started ranting about the Olympics just now? Angry? Did it make you want to stop reading? Push back? It wouldn’t surprise me. There are better ways to get my point across.

This came into focus the other day when I took my scooter in to the shop to get a flat tire fixed.

I had added a layer of fibreglass to the cowling and I was so proud of my work I couldn’t help mentioning it.

“Pretty skookum job on the fibreglass, eh?”

My mechanic looked at it critically for a moment and then smiled through his moustache.

“Little rough around the headlight,” he said. “You could have sanded that.”

“Yeah,” I admitted. “I was thinking about that…”

He reached around the side of the cowling. “What’s this?”

I looked at where he was pointing: tag ends of fibreglass extended from one edge.

“Yeah, I could have got that.”

“Look, you got it all over the fender too …”

“Fine!”

It didn’t make me angry, because he’s a great guy — and he was right — but it did make me push back a bit. I wasn’t very open to hearing his critique of my sins.

When I came back to pick up my ride later on, the owner met me in the shop.

“I fibreglassed the cowling,” I moped as I loaded up the Piglet. “I thought I did an OK job…”

“Oh it’s beautiful Neil,” he said, grinning. “A fibreglassing job like that only a writer could do.”

Did I push back? No. When I stopped laughing I had to agree that, yeah, it’s pretty rough.

Humour really does work, so while there will be times when I will rant along with the rest of them, (Do you have any idea how much $50 billion could do towards ending hunger, cleaning up the environment or repairing the ravages of natural disasters and war?) generally I will take the road less traveled and offer up my cotton candy.

That sharp pain in your tummy? Don’t worry about it. Everything will be fine.

Here, have some more…

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