Have you come across an incident that made you smile knowingly because it gave off a flash of insight in your mind?

Many times, it occurred to me. Life is giving us messages all the time, if only we would pay closer attention and decipher the signs.

I have coined a portmanteau: Thinkling. From two words, thinking and chuckling. It is a label for one of my diversions. When I go through stories on newspapers and magazines, I like to muse about items I casually come across while sipping coffee.  I read between and beyond the lines. It goes to show that there is more to ordinary reading than meets the eye. It can also be un-stressing and relaxing.

On the shelves of my desks are manila envelopes that contain assorted clippings from newspapers and magazines, which I kept for future re-reading. I have collected a lot through the years, not to mention a lot of dust too.

When time permits, I go through them one by one. And as I give them a closer reading, some thoughts bubble up and I begin to remember why I clipped the article or written down the passage.

Let me share with you a few of these clippings and scribblings, some of which might rightfully belong to the category of “believe it or not” or “the strange and the bizarre” stuff.

“Patient takes wheel of ambulance to save driver.” Believe it or not that’s a headline of a news report by Agence France-Presse. The report goes on to say that in Lille, France, according to French medical officials, a late-stage cancer patient had saved the life of an ambulance driver who suffered a heart attack, by taking the wheel of his vehicle and driving him to the hospital.

As I picture it in my mind, I can’t help but see it as a wacky scene from a Marx brothers movie. I may laugh quietly at the thought, but if you’re looking for a concrete instance of an ordinary person doing an extraordinary deed, that’s it. Fate works in mysterious ways and in some instances in life you are called to rise up to do a task that is so unexpected of you that later you would even wonder why and how you were able to do it.

From my collection is a feature article about an upper-class woman who has two whippets which she hugs and cuddles, and pampers them like, as she puts it, “…like they’re human beings. The dogs probably think they are human.” Take note: the dogs are fed fresh milk, ice cream, cheese and deboned chicken. They get a sponge bath daily before sleeping, and they get to sleep on their master’s bed. They have lots of toys and clothes; an outfit for every occasion is tailor-made for them. They have his-and-hers outfits for playing, sleeping and traveling.

But in the same breath, the feature article goes on to tell us that at the office (she being a business executive, stock brokerage manager) she is apparently a certified terror. Her staffers “quiver at the sound of her voice, and such shrill of tone of tenacity likewise fills the halls…” The wealthy lady executive treats her people like animals who must serve her at the snap of her fingers while she treats her pet animals like people. Talk about misplaced affection. You encounter many of their kind on social media and on pet vlogs, and they get a lot of “likes” and heart icons and long threads of flatteries and nobody seems to realize the irony of it all.

And here’s a piece of news to perk up your morning breakfast. A landmark bridge in Indonesia’s Sumatra island may collapse because too many people are fond of urinating on one of its steel pillars, a report in the newspaper said. The bridge has begun to lean on an angle and rocks slightly when traffic is heavy. An official of public works department says the bridge had deteriorated because people often took a leak on one of its piers, corroding the structure. Acidic fluid’s corrosive forces can eventually make the bridge collapse. I laughed soundlessly when I read it because I am reminded of the politicians who have been pissing on the pillars of our institutions for years now and whom many will vote for again in next year’s elections for a few pieces of silver.

Speaking of something rotten, have you come across bad smelling plants that people want to buy? If the article I read in one magazine in 1999 is true then you will be surprised to know that in the United Kingdom, people are planting really weird plants in their gardens.

One of these plants is known as the “Voodoo Lily,” and it gives off a foul odor. Another plant has a blossom that is pollinated by flies that are attracted by its offensive smell: rotting flesh. Would you believe that these unusual foul-smelling plants are attracting many buyers who are willing to spend from $50 to $100 on them? She reports solid business.

It makes me think of the many people who tend to gravitate towards personalities with stinking reputations in the same way that flies are attracted to rotting, decaying materials such as garbage. These followers turn into fanatical “trolls” who act like virtual hooligans that delight in verbally beating up and bashing those who disagree with them.

What do you know? Even in death the gangsters thrive on protection racket. This is the gist of a feature article about crime-weary Venezuelans who pray at the tomb of a notorious thief, believing he and other dead gangsters can protect them against violent attacks and robberies.

Devotees of the Corte Malandra or Gangsters’ Pantheon pray at the tomb and pay for the favor with an offering of candles, a cigar, a glass of strong local anis liquor and a hot salsa song. They say the spirits of the dead criminals are trying to make amends for their villainous past by protecting people and helping those who might be tempted into crime.

It reminds me of a friend who got us out of a fix by showing the calling card of a police superintendent to a patrol of agents of the law. That card saved us from being arrested that night, of course with a little lubricant called “lagay.” Later as we were laughing all the way home, my friend revealed that the said police general was already dead for two years. Then we laughed some more, although I had that sneaky feeling, the police guys knew it and were just taking us for a ride to wring as much as they could from us.

What a society we have become when we have stopped praying to saints in our hour of need, but instead turn to the pantheon of dead evil men. Have we lost our faith in the power of good people to help us?

There’s more of these pieces, but enough for now. If this sampling will make you think (oh-so-gently) and make you chuckle, too, then my role is done. Happy thinkling!





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