Stop following the doughnut truck

June 01, 1996|By Harold Jackson

IT'S FUNNY how people get distracted from what is important. Take for example what happened a few weeks ago when I got that dreaded call from my home-security service that the alarm at my house had gone off and I needed to go there immediately.

I called the hospital where my wife is a nurse to advise her of the potential calamity and ran to the parking deck to wake up Ol' Betsy, my 13-year-old vehicle of choice.

Traveling moderately fast on the highway, not wanting to risk a speeding ticket from an unsympathetic traffic cop, I saw something that completely shifted my thoughts. A Krispy Kreme truck.

To the uninitiated, and most folks not from the Deep South are, Krispy Kremes are simply the best doughnuts ever made. I had never seen a Krispy Kreme truck way up here in bagel country.

I hadn't had a Krispy Kreme since October 14, 1994, the last day of an assignment in Mississippi, when I noticed a doughnut shop near the Biloxi airport and bought a dozen glazed to carry home.

I must admit that, as a young man, the crowd I ran around with was leery of the KK logo that adorned each green and white Krispy Kreme box. But if there was anything subversive about these doughnuts, we didn't care.

Krispy Kreme stores typically stayed open 24 hours. You could watch doughnuts being made behind huge plate-glass windows. The rich and famous rubbed elbows with the lowest of the low to get their hands on a box of hot ones.

Seemingly weightless dough that could float on air, almost crisp on the outside, soft within, a glaze of sugar melting on the tongue. Where was that mysterious truck going anyway?

I really was tempted to follow it, but there was that other business. I wistfully watched the Krispy Kreme truck fade in the distance as I took the necessary turn to get to my house.

Once there, I looked for the police that the security service said it would call. Finding none, I began to survey the perimeter, checking each door and window from the outside.

False alarm

Everything looked fine, so I went inside, turned off the alarm and checked every nook and cranny for intruders. Nobody there. Nothing missing. I called the security service to report the alarm must have malfunctioned, next I called my wife, then I sat down at the kitchen table, opened a can of soda pop and said to rTC myself, ''I wonder if you can buy Krispy Kremes somewhere in Maryland?''

You laugh, perhaps, but seeing the doughnut truck was good for me, even though I didn't follow it. The distraction was calming when it would have been easy to overreact and drive dangerously fast to get to a crime that didn't occur.

Of course, it can be bad to have the short attention spans we Americans do, which allow some of us to become distracted from important matters at the sight of a doughnut truck. Baltimore has problems that might have been solved had we focused on those issues without allowing ourselves to be distracted by lesser concerns.

We've had plenty of time. Deplorable schools didn't get that way overnight. We didn't just wake up and discover vacant houses had become shooting galleries for drug addicts. Or that people who live in the suburbs think they are better than people in the city.

That's not to say these issues haven't been addressed, but too few of us have wanted to risk the pain that comes in forging lasting solutions. People have sounded concerned, but rather than make tough decisions that might make us uncomfortable or -- if a politician -- unpopular, we have turned our attention to more palatable remedies whose promise far exceeds their ability to deliver.

We've been following the doughnut truck, and it's been a very expensive ride.

Harold Jackson writes editorials for The Sun.

Pub Date: 6/01/96

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