The Traffic Gnomes
"It's not that you're just ill equipped to handle children, it's that you're a complete and total monster!" This is of course not a true statement, but rather a harsh accusation from my next door neighbor. She refuses to let me near her niece and her property in general. It's a little unfair.
My neighbor has this awesome one and a half year old pitbull. We'll call him Thunder for the sake of this article. Also because that's his name. I'm not going to go out of my way to protect the identity of a dog. Well anyway, my neighbor's dog walker recently walked out on her so she needed someone to take Thunder out every morning while she went to work. Having already established chemistry with the pooch I took on the task.
Several weeks went by, and having proved myself worthy of the dog walking she asks me if I can look after her niece this week too. Some issue happened with her mom and the 5 year old needed a place to couch surf for a little bit. A tiny freeloader. I like dogs. Kids, not so much. But a sense of immediacy was projected so I said "Of course I'll watch your kid! I love kids!"
So the kid arrives. I'm now not only just spending my mornings with thunder, the awesome k-9, but also the afternoons with Angela, the less than awesome kid. We'll call her Angela for now because that's her name. If I'm not going to protect the identity of a dog what makes you think I'm going to protect the identity of a 5 year old? They have the same motor skills essentially. It's science.
Well a couple days go by and I actually start to kind of like the kid. She loved to draw and was a real creative type. I resonated with that. Cool kid. Kind of regret comparing her to a dog a few sentences ago. One morning I take thunder out for a walk, and Angela accompanied us because kids need to be supervised at all times apparently, despite me teaching her what the phrase "third wheel" meant via flash cards.
We walked maybe two blocks when Angela starts asking me all kinds of questions. "How does a car move? Why is the sky blue?" I don't know why she asked me. She seemed to have her own answers about everything already. I got an insight into her fascinating 5 year old philosophy: The sky was blue due to "god squishing blueberrys". I told her "You're close! Have you heard of chemtrails?"
We get to the end of the block when she just starts to stare at a traffic light for a good 10 seconds. Then she predictably asks "how do those work?". That's when I was instantly reminded of a story my father told me when I wore a younger man's clothing. I was eager to retell it... But I had to paraphrase it... And I added some more details.
"Oh well it's pretty fascinating" I say to her face that's filled with curiosity and absolute wonder. "Have you heard of the traffic gnomes?"
"No! What's that!?"
"Well, every traffic light has a little person in them. Their sole job is to turn on the lights when they see traffic."
"Yes really! They take shifts, some of them work as long as 14 hours a day."
"How do they do it??"
"They pull levers. 3, one for each light! They have an entire system worked out! They even have a distinct species of gnomes for walking signs!"
This is the part where I just kind of stared at her blankly. Her eyes were full of so much child like wonder and I consciously returned her a look that was the opposite of it. Adulthood disillusionment, I guess you would call it.
"You think that's cool huh?"
"Well yeah I-"
"Angela... have you ever stopped and asked yourself 'how did those gnomes get in those lights'"
"Well, I only just heard about I-"
"They're caged prisons Angela! Caged prisons!! Can't you see!"
"In the mid 1800's American settlers went out to explore a new land. We were welcomed, not by people, but by the gnomes. The gnomes were understandably frightened of new visitors, but yet remarkably peaceful. They approached us, bearing gifts. And how did we thank our humble hosts of this new land Angela? We slaughtered them Angela. We nearly slaughtered them all. We scalped them, we stuffed them into boxes. We ripped crying children out of the screaming woman gnome's loving embrace. Afterwards we had our way with the gnome women in front of the men gnome. Those who objected were shot with a musket point blank. We made them march in chain gangs for hours upon hours. Building railroads. But their small tiny frames couldn't handle the labor. In fact that's how most of them died. We needed a way to utilize these slaves more proficiently. I mean our government couldn't let them live as citizens right? We didn't even let women vote at the time, and hell, at least they were a member of our species! How could gnomes stand a chance? So we treated them as indentured servants for a number of years, denying them any kind of rights what so ever. But then, by the time electricity was invented and fully utilized, our commander in chief came up with a way to use them effectively. We stuffed them into these small claustrophobic yellow boxes, with the single task of flipping switches all day. Never to see the sun. When one gnome is done he simply retires to the bunk above while the gnome he shares the bunk with takes over. Food is delivered only but once a day. The gnome anatomy has never been fully studied, so I doubt we are giving them the full nutrition a gnome needs. ...And that's the price the gnome community paid so we could drive safely on our all American paved roads."
I didn't know a human face could contort so much until I saw Angela's face then.
"That's right Angela.. The white man has a lot of blood on their hands... Remember that."
"Oh that's right. You think it's... What's the word you used earlier... Cool? Wow. Come on. Let's just go home."
That's when the tears started flowing. Even the dog started to howl.
I couldn't have her making a public scene so I tried to cheer her up, and say I was just kidding but she couldn't hear me over her freaking crying. This crying I couldn't comprehend. I was told kids love stories. It wasn't any more fantastical then that blueberry smearing god gibberish she talked about earlier.
Anyway, she tattled on me. I tried to tell her aunt I was just doing what my father had did to me. Afterall an analogy on the injustice regarding to ethnic relationships at a young age made me a better person in the long run. But uh, for some reason that sentence seemed to solidify her decision in not letting me near her home.
I will never forgive Angela for separating me from that dog. Take a joke kid.