Manuel Taboada

Manuel Taboada

“That which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” is a quote attributed to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. I think he was right, and come to think of it, I do feel stronger now, along with many other fellow Dentonites. Shaken yes, absolutely, but stronger.

I’m referring, of course, to having driven under Interstate 35E on South Loop 288, where it took me an hour to go five blocks. What genius do you suppose figured out the traffic flow there? Personally, I think our traffic department need not hire any engineer who didn’t play with toy trains as a kid. That’s got to be a must. There’s a window of opportunity at a young age that isn’t there later in life, especially if you have to figure out simple, modest, everyday intersections and their traffic patterns. Same as learning a second language, I suppose.

So what to do with my newfound strength? For one, I feel better able to handle the calls I continually get asking me to sell the house, not to mention the follow-up postcards and letters addressed to me personally by a printer that counterfeits flawless handwriting. What’s more, these guys have the gall to get mad when I hang up or laugh and snort at them. Same goes for the roofing contractors who are going to “be in the neighborhood” and would like to creepy-crawl on my roof to give me a quote, or the anonymous health insurance guy who wants all my personal info over the phone so I can get a better deal on health care. On the other hand, I don’t mind the Michigan state trooper who calls asking for money because, after all, my father was a medical student at the University of Michigan in the ’60s, and he did drive their highways, so there is a connection there.

I thought about these phone calls and postcards and other forms of continual, never-ending harassment and came to the only understandable conclusion: It must work. I mean, some people obviously sell their houses to these cockroaches at half price or have some unfamiliar person, usually without references, come to their house and install a new roof, whether it needs it or not. Otherwise they would not call. Same goes for health care.

Nearly everyone has heard that “there is a sucker (or a fool) born every minute,” a phrase attributed to the mid-19th century American showman P.T Barnum, and I think, like Nietzsche, Mr. Barnum was also right. If you ever walk the aisles at a store like Walmart and wonder who in God’s green earth buys all this stuff, guess what? Lots of people do, most likely millions of them — otherwise it would not be there.

I was reminded of this the other day when I read that a certain young beauty was filming herself taking bubble baths, uploading her sexy photos to Instagram, then bottling her bathwater and selling it. Supposedly she was having to bathe 20 times a day to keep up with demand. That’s when lightning hit me. I was dumbstruck, then less so; then I calmed down, just envious I suppose, wishing I had thought of that first.

Anyhow, I might as well thank the Denton traffic department for making me stronger. I only wish there was a less nerve-wracking way.

MANUEL TABOADA lives, works and writes in Denton. He welcomes feedback and can be reached at

Recommended for you