Things Jack just doesn’t get

I’ve been around—I’m an experienced guy. However, there are certain things that I just don’t get, like why is it a trend to load up a bed with as many as 17 pillows? Recently, while visiting a luxury hotel, I couldn’t find enough room on the bedspread to stretch out for a moment because the designer pillows –all shapes, sizes, styles and fabrics– where piled nearly a third of the way down. I get that an additional pillow or two might be extra snuggly and considered a luxury compared to an army barracks, but when the number exceeds a half dozen, I simply don’t get it.

I’m not being stubborn either. I get why we don’t use fountain pens or rotary phones anymore. I don’t miss shifting gears in my car. I even get computers (How do you think ol’Jack submits his articles?). What I don’t get is how the tides here along the Pacific side can vary as much as 17 feet from low to high, while on the Caribbean/Atlantic side, just an hour´s drive away on the Trans-Isthmian Highway, the tides only fluctuate about two feet. Is the gravitational pull or the earth’s rotation that different?

I don’t like opera but I get why some people enjoy the music and spectacle. I’m not a fan of professional basketball, but I get it. At least they use their hands and don’t try to kick the ball into the basket. What I don’t get is cock fighting, which is still rather popular out in the interior of Panama. Is there such a shortage of things to bet on, that guys feel compelled to wager on whether a chicken can claw another to death or not? It makes boxing, which I get, seem civilized.

Of course there are cultural differences, but I simply don’t get how many (not all) Panamanians don’t seem to mind waiting, especially in line. On the second and last Fridays of the month, pay day, long lines of people stretch out of banks and around blocks. Apparently, they’re simply happy to have a paycheck. Traffic jams are met with nonchalance. With only one main road, the Pan-American Highway spanning much of the country, a major backup is cause for folks to get out of their cars and stand around talking with fellow travelers, who aren’t going anywhere on any alternate routes either. I’m afraid after about a half an hour of not moving, ol’Jack turns out to be pretty darn chalant.

I also don’t get how it is possible to plan a major canal expansion without consulting the leading shipping lines to find out if the new Panamax will actually be long enough.

If you think you get it, please feel free to fill me in at Remember to keep your correspondence pithy and germane.


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