People who proclaim to be able to predict the future are typically met with a double-helping of skepticism, but I happen to be among those who believe all of us possess at least a touch of that ability. Call it intuition. Call it supernatural. Call it ESP. Some even dismiss it as deja vu. But we all know it when it happens — though it’s usually after the fact.
One of my wife’s favorite television shows is “Medium,” the Patricia Arquette program on NBC that features an “ordinary” housewife with the extraordinary ability to receive messages from the dead about horrible things they witnessed before they died, and visions of things that are about to happen.
The hook here is that all this activity seems to transpire in the middle of night, and through dreams. Half the show is filmed with the actors in pajamas, and the “medium” is jolted awake repeatedly by homicidal visions. The husband is extremely supportive, but why he didn’t start sleeping in another room about a month into the marriage, I don’t know.
Whether hints about future events arrive in dreams or simply by way of random thoughts, most of us have had them. But we either don’t recognize such premonitions when they occur, or we’re too timid to announce them — much less, act on them — even when we suspect what’s happened.
For example, a week ago, as I drove home after dark, one of our cats was lounging in the street. I thought to myself, this feline needs to wise up, because I might have hit him if I wasn’t turning into the driveway. The next night, someone else was driving down the street, and our pet wasn’t as lucky.
Then on Monday morning, I got to the car to discover the battery was dead. Again, I should have heeded the omen. I would have been better off to have turned around and gotten back in bed. Here’s my sorrowful tale of the rest of the day:
After waiting for an important phone call as the noon hour approached, I was late getting away for lunch. I had a meeting coming up, too. Without a specific destination in mind, I headed toward Commerce Street and Early Boulevard to see what was quick and caught my fancy. The traffic was backed up along Main at the “Traffic T,” so I veered off on a side street. But highway construction had access totally blocked, and I found myself with about a dozen other drivers hopelessly bottled up, trying to turn around, while others kept coming up behind. I don’t know how long it took to get untangled and headed in the other direction.
After escaping that trap, I found what has usually been a good choice for lunch, although I hadn’t been there recently. I placed my order, and sat down to wait. Time marched on. Then it marched a little further. An order number that was at least 10 higher than mine was called, so I asked about that. Mine should be out directly, I was told. Time marched on again.
The hour of that meeting neared.
The clerk I had talked to earlier was concerned now, and she asked me for my receipt. Another customer, the man who had been behind me when I ordered, handed his over, too. Yes, our orders had been misplaced.
Lunch was pretty good, though, and I had 15 minutes to spare. That’s enough time to stop on the way back to the office and pick up a package of razor blades. Razor blades, it seems, are a prime target of shoplifters, so retailers have to take steps to reduce their losses. This particular store has them under lock and key, and a sign directs you to the cashier for assistance.
I did that the last time I bought blades there. I waited while five customers made purchases, and then said I needed blades. The clerk walked to the display with a key, but it wasn’t needed. There’s a secret way to open the drawer enough so a package will drop out. I made a mental note, and went back to the check-out, where I waited for five other customers to pay who had arrived at the cash register while I was off picking up blades.
That was then. On this day, however, I opened the drawer and pushed the secret button myself. No blades dropped out. Instead, the music on the PA system stopped and a recorded voice announced to everyone in the store, “Customer needs assistance with razor blades.”
Now, this wasn’t a calm, helpful voice. It was more like a proclamation from the Almighty — uttered at a volume you would expect to hear over the bullhorn when a police officer stops you and declares, “Put your hands behind your head and walk away from the car.”
I’ve had this nightmare before, only it wasn’t blades I was after. I was 16 years old, and the dream placed me at a drug store nervously trying to buy a type of intimate product also available from vending machines in the men’s room at a bus station. You didn’t have to be psychic to know I had no need for this item.
By the way, the television station that carries “Medium” was off the air Wednesday night, so my wife missed its highly-anticipated season finale. If you happened to have had a dream about how that episode went, we’d like to know.
Gene Deason is managing editor of the Brownwood Bulletin. His column appears on Friday. He may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.