Gloat. It is a kind of strange sounding word. Maybe because its meaning contains a degree of malice, you admit to gloating with a slightly hushed voice, head hung, or maybe slightly turned to the side. I had dropped off the log at the end of the Puddingstone stretch of trail. The cars were backed up, as I knew they would be in this mid-morning hour. Those metal boxes were packed with families, kids jumping in their seats with the first sight of those towering slides, parents, perhaps, beginning to regret that they ever agreed to the outing. It was early enough that I knew the main parking lot would still be filling, so the line of cars would stretch all the way across the dam and back past the ticket booth. No need yet for the overflow lot, shutting off the flow across the dam, begin running the shuttle trams.
I didn't envy any of the people inside those cars. Fair being fair, they may not have envied me; though still early, arms and legs glistened with sweat, dripped from my nose, face red with exertion. Those who saw me likely thought, poor sap, out there in the dust and heat. Almost immediately, one driver took pity and let me cross the roadway so I could continue on down and rocky, rutted trail, one I don't normally take; I make an exception when the top of the dam is bumper to bumper. I thanked him with a peace sign, then dropped out of view, focusing on ruts and rocks rather than gloating. For a few minutes I could forget about all that but, as is often the case, if you start at the top of a trail and go down, you probably have to get back up. As the line of cars came back into view, so too did the gloating; poor saps, I thought, "glad I'm not them, or there."
I guess that is the fine line to be tread - it is one thing to be thankful you are not them, or there, but something completely different to feel some sense of satisfaction in others' misfortune, whether it be perceived or real. Just ask a handful of Florida teens.