Driving through downtown Tucson on a Friday morning at 9 am, on the way to the soup kitchen, I saw a very old man in a very new Prius take a left turn onto Stone Avenue, which meant he had turned the wrong way on a one way street, head-on into the relative melee of morning traffic. As the light turned green, there was no honking; all the cars on the road remained still, in order to give the old man time to figure it out. A man on the street corner wearing a business suit was smoking a cigarette with a bemused look on his face, while two construction workers on the other side of the road were leaned up against their excavator, giggling. The business man yelled something across the two lanes of cars to the construction workers, which made them all laugh. After a few seconds of this, another man stepped out of his SUV that idled next to me, adorned with spinning 22” rims and the last name “Navarette” in gothic scrawl on his back window. He chased down the Prius that hadn’t made it very far, knocked on the window, and explained to the old man his predicament. Having sensed a conclusion, all the cars started moving again, slowly, and in my rearview I could see Mr. Navarette jogging back to his SUV while the old man painstakingly executed an 18-point turn until his Prius joined the flow of traffic.
This brief scene - 2 minutes tops - made me wonder: how does one rank a city’s patience? its humor? how do we measure words parried across traffic between tailored suits and hard hats? to the very real extent that we are poor, what wealth can we find in moments, in the ebb and flow of everyday life?