We went on a short excursion over the recent holiday and had a wonderful, relaxing time. Nothing like a few days on the river to calm the soul. It was superb.
On the way home, we stopped at a well-known convenience store for a little petrol and something to drink. As I walked in the front door, I glanced at the back of the room. There was a black wall above their beverage coolers which they seemed to be using as a blackboard. Across the top of the wall, the following promo was written: “Welcome to Hoagie Fe St.”
Santa Fe Street?
I immediately thought, “What a strange sounding promotion.” But, I’ve seen some that were way out there, so I took it in stride. I supposed it was some sort of takeoff from Santa Fe Street (although I’ve never run across a Santa Fe Street—but I’m sure there’s one somewhere). Being quite unimpressed, I walked away and quickly forgot about it.
I ordered one of those slushy, cold, coffee drinks; took a number, and waited in line for my thirst quencher. As I patiently stood there, I took special note of one of the gals behind the counter. She was wearing a brightly colored t-shirt with the brand of the convenience store on it. And right there in big, bold letters across the front of the shirt it said, “Hoagiefest.” Being the quick-witted person I am, I quickly surmised I had misread the large promo in the back of the store. It hadn’t said, “Hoagie Fe St.” It said, “Hoagiefest.” My bad.
Actually, it was someone else’s bad. They hadn’t taken good care to the spacing of the letters. Like punctuation, spacing can be extremely important. To be fair, I probably was a tad mindless as I read it. Yet, I can’t help but think a better bunching of the letters would have kept me from walking down Hoagie Fest Street in my mind.
Letters aren’t the only things that need proper spacing. People do as well. In recent days, some rather famous folks in our country have had their private space invaded. It has happened in restaurants, bookstores, theaters, and other public venues. They’ve been accosted primarily for their political views, but the reason doesn’t really matter.
I don’t think it’s written in the U.S. Constitution anywhere, but it seems to me that everyone is entitled to his or her proper space. When we stop being civil enough to allow for that, anything goes.
The prophet Isaiah once pronounced a woe that went like this: “Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land.” (Isaiah 5:8) I’m not exactly sure what he meant, but one thing is clear. Space is important.
To those who would rudely invade the space of another, I say (in the spirit of Isaiah), “Woe to you.” In the words of another prophet, “May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.”
[Dave Zuchelli is a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and currently resides in Aldie, VA.]