Saturday, September 17, 2005

Hands of Wire?

Yesterday, I posted on the hazards of travel during Korea's Chusok harvest festival, when the entire country hits the roads homeward bound.

A longtime expatriate resident here in Korea recalls one Chusok not many years back when a horde of southbound travelers from Seoul decided to solve the traffic problem by appropriating the oncoming lanes for themselves and use all lanes to drive south. That worked beautifully for several miles until these southbound travelers met a horde of oncoming, northbound countrymen doing the same thing.

Result: a massive Mongolian clusterlock from Seoul to Busan and Busan to Seoul.

But that's not what I'm here to talk about today. Something more sinister than Korean driving habits must be discussed . . . carefully. Prompted by a comment yesterday from Jeff of Quid nomen illius? about bad maps and bad driving, I recalled the following existential encounter with nothingness:

In 1976, I rode my bicycle from Talequah, Oklahoma to Waco, Texas and nearly died of dehydration one day because the map showed a highway that didn't yet exist and never did come into existence. (I know because I drove that route once some years later, and the highway still wasn't there!)

If I hadn't been astoundingly fit back then, I wouldn't be here entertaining the public . . . uh, okay, entertaining myself . . . today.

Anyway, I learned to be sceptical of maps.

Concerning this flawed map promising something where there was nothing, my Quid nomen illius? cyber-interlocutor saw the wirey hand of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named:

Glad you survived the bike trip. The inaccurate map sounds like the work of -- well, I won't say his name, but he reportedly has hands of wire . . .

Hmmm . . . so Mr. Hand O'Wire's handiwork may have handcrafted my near-doom, my existential encounter with nothing but a rough dirt road over a steep mountain in the days before mountain bikes and with no water except for a slimey, stagnant pool that even in my dire thirst I dared not drink.

The Wire Hand certainly had motive enough to craft my doom and malice enough to carry it through, but there remains the question of "How?"

Did Willie find a way to work his wiles? Did he again try to do me in, this time not in the dark dead of an Arkansas night but under the merciless Oklahoma summer sun blazing down on a deserted dirt road?

Here's the truly frightening thought. What if the map was not wrong? What if that little part of the world had been altered by a powerful, malicious entity intent on my demise?

Is that physically impossible?

We know that Mr. Wirehand has mighty powers, sufficient to transform entire reservoirs into electricity. If he can do that, might he not have power sufficient to make a highway disappear?

Such would be truly worthy of the fiend.


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