I’ve never been good at small talk.
I’ve never been good at small talk.
I don’t know what possessed me — possessed probably being the key word here — but, I ventured out into the world today. You know… among people. And not just regular people either. Mall shoppers. Oh yes. In a fit of misplaced optimism, I decided to try my hand at in-person Christmas shopping. I mean, really. What the hell was I thinking? You tell me, I sure don’t know. It did teach me one thing, however. My disdain for people is nothing if not valid.
Which brings me to this recycled blog post. Oh sure, it’s not Black Friday any longer, which is what prompted the original post. In fact, we’re smack-dab in the middle of the yearly free-for-all we euphemistically call holiday shopping. However, the moral of the story, if you can call it that, is just as relevant today as it was last year. BUT, beware, my friends. Winter is not just coming. It is here. It. Is. Here.
Friends, danger is upon us. We are approaching that time of year when brother will turn against brother, sister will deceive sister, and strangers will come to fisticuffs over dwindling supplies of cherished treasure. There’s only one thing that can bring the madness in our society to such a fever pitch. Yes, my friends, I’m talking about holiday shopping.
Get those elbows ready for pushing people out of the way (I hear a sale on elbow pads starts today!) and start brushing up on your bob-and-weave coordination, it all kicks off today, Black Friday, and soon it will be followed by an all-out Christmas merchandise assault. I don’t know what it is about good deals, but it truly unleashes the beast in some people. Maybe it’s mob mentality that comes from being in large, billowing crowds of shoppers. It overtakes rational thought about how to treat your fellow Man and…
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You know, to be fair, the Grinch didn’t hate Christmas. He hated people. And I can completely relate to that, especially as I get older. Oh, who am I kidding … I’ve always been this way. I was, am, and will forever be Team Grinch. Long live the Grinch. Praise be and pass the eggnog.
Facebook, in its ever evolving need to placate everyone, has implemented a service to help busy Facebook users better manage their time. You may have noticed that under each article or video, Facebook has added a handy dandy estimate of how much time it will take their oh-so-busy users to read an article.
I won’t even touch on the fact that many Facebook users don’t (or can’t) read an informative article to begin with.
I will even ignore the fact that I can read a 300-word piece in well under 5 minutes, Mr. Mark Zuckerberg.
Let’s cut right to the chase, shall we? If you are on Facebook for the twentieth fiftieth gazillionth time today, explain to me exactly what tight, rigorous schedule you are on that prevents you from choosing to read a five-minute article?
“Wow, teens exploring a wooded area next to the local mall downtown discovered a live wooly mammoth family today in New Hampshire! Oh wait, it’s a 5-minute read!? Who the hell has time for that??” *Keeps scrolling* … “Coke adds the name Adonis to its line of labeled bottles and cans … 2-minute read. All right! Now, that’s the kind of timeframe I can get behind! Let me at this one!”
If it takes you more than five minutes to read the article, can you sue for lost time and damages? Does that five-minute read include pictures and captions? Really, Facebook, I have so many questions!
I suppose you could time your Farmville crops to article lengths and give yourself something to do while the crops ripen. “This one will take exactly one corn harvest.” “Oh, man, I’ll never get to harvest those yams in time if I read this one, forget it. Who cares about the newly discovered pyramid on Mars, anyway? Those crops are waiting!”
Now, what happens if I choose to invest my time in, say, a five-minute article and it only takes me three minutes to read? I have two extra unplanned minutes in my day. I could:
Years from now we’ll be telling our grandchildren, “In my day, we had phones that plugged into the wall, TV sets without remotes, and we never knew how long it would take to read an article on Facebook!”
So, my followers and friends…what will YOU do with all of your extra time?
We all do goofy things with our car radios while we drive. You’re lying if you tell me you’ve never inched up at a traffic light to get better reception during your favorite song. I might have to call you out again if you claim you don’t turn the radio down while you look for an address. And I know I’m not the only one who hears a song I love, then immediately searches all the other channels to find it again.
Don’t tell me that if your window is open and you are listening to an embarrassing song, say A-Ha’s Take on Me, while playing the air keyboard on your dashboard, that you don’t punch the button to change the station as soon as you hit a red light. We all know the stations we can tune to for music while other stations are on commercial breaks, and we have at least one station programmed that we never even listen to, wonder why it’s saved, and still refuse to reprogram it.
We get embarrassed when we sing the wrong words to songs, even when we are alone, and play the “Who sings this, it’s right on the tip of my tongue, dang it” game to the point we may even Google it at the next stop light.
But there is a certain type of person who takes car music to a whole different level.
You are at the stoplight, waiting for it to turn green. You feel it before you hear it. Your teeth rattle and your car shakes as he pulls up beside you. It’s Mr. Bass Man. That’s bass, like the music, not bass like the fish; he is another post altogether, now, isn’t he?
He is wearing something darker, you think, you can’t really tell because his windows are tinted. You peer through the tint and see a reflection of sunglasses, which makes no sense because it’s eleven at night. His music is so loud that birds are falling from their nests, dogs are howling in protest, house windows are shattering, and the lady in front of you just ran the stoplight to escape.
Not to be outdone – more importantly, to keep the lyrical insult to music Mr. Bass Man is playing at bay, you crank up your John Denver, but Country Roads is no competition for Mr. Bass Man. Your head is swimming as you are trying to hear about those roads that will take John home, but John Denver has given up. You crank your windows up; the bass still winds around you like a boa constrictor and won’t let go.
Mr. Bass Man appears to somehow be talking on a cell phone, his voice raised over his musical offerings. Far be it from Mr. Bass Man to turn down his radio to have his conversation, he is kind enough that he doesn’t want to deprive you of this real music experience.
Thank you, Mr. Bass Man, for showing me that my tastes in music sucks. Thank you for sharing your obviously superior music with the world. I appreciate the valuable life lesson I have learned here today. If I had a clue what the hell you were actually listening to, I might even look it up online and continue this valuable education.
Off he goes, his bass fading into the velvety night. You sit at the light for a moment more, letting your hearing correct itself, and watch him blow the next stoplight. Mr. Bass Man has important places to go, and won’t let a pesky thing like traffic laws slow him down.
Thank you, again, Mr. Bass Man, for allowing your musical choices to wash over me, and the six city blocks surrounding us. I feel all the better for having, if only for a brief moment, a glimpse into your life.
And I feel even better knowing that you are somewhere teaching others the error of their musical choices, and spreading the love. Because at least you’re not next to me anymore.
Let me start by saying that nurses are some of the hardest working people on the planet. The garbage you all see and put up with is a constant source of amazement to me. I’d like to wish each nurse and med tech out there, Happy Nurse’s Week; you all deserve some recognition.
I’d like to give a special nod to one particular nurse who cared for my father after his recent back surgery (a big middle finger to cancer, by the way). Her bedside manner was quite appropriate … if we were all three-year olds. Picture yourself talking to a puppy or kitten; this is a good approximation of how she acted around us, or I should say, around my dad. To the rest of us, she was just “normal.” She was trying to be nice, I get that, she had an awesome bedside manner, but she came off as just a wee bit condescending … or sarcastic which is even better. Now, she was dealing with my dad so she should probably be forgiven, but I will say this: it was hilarious to the rest of us.
In the recovery room where he had to lay flat for like a gazillion hours straight, my father told her his back hurt, and she nodded in rapt understanding. “Do you know why that is?” she asked. We all leaned in, holding our collective breath, waiting for the medical pearls of wisdom we were sure she was about to share with us. She touched my dad’s hand ever so comfortingly and looked so wise, and then she told him, “Because you had that procedure on your back this morning.” And then she nodded sagely with the sweetest smile on her face. At that moment I realized: I, too, could be a nurse … I’ve got the sarcastic bedside manner down pat if not any form of medical training whatsoever. I wonder if she uses that same soothing-seemingly-helpful-yet-in-reality-sarcastic-kindergarten-teacher-type voice with all her patients, and I wonder if she uses it on her coworkers or in general daily interactions. If so, I like her more and more.
As you all are aware, my mind tends to wander, and we all know how dangerous that can be. As I watched the nurses scurry back and forth under the crushing demands of patients and doctors, I thought of ways I could brighten their day. Or, drive them crazy. Here is a short list of fun ideas I had.
Page fictional nurses and doctors: Nurse Ratchet, Dr. Who, Florence Nightingale, Dr. Doolittle…you get the idea.
Bring empty beer cans and stash them all over the room: Look innocent when the staff questions you.
Start doing a stand-up comedy routine on the overhead system: “What’s the deal with hospital food?”
Grab a set of scrubs and a clipboard and wander the hallway looking concerned: Added plus for muttering phrases like “That leech treatment sure didn’t work, I’m not sure what could’ve went wrong, they were fresh leeches” or “We never covered vampire bites in medical school.” Even more points if you tell a nurse to order a “Wingdang KPT frontal scan of the terrapin flimflam on Mrs. Smith. STAT!” Extra extra points if you stop a visitor, make up a disease and ask them what they think of your treatment plan for your patient.
Call fictional codes in areas of the hospital that don’t exist: Code purple pinstripe, rumpus room. Repeat, code purple pinstripe, rumpus room.
Clip a positive pregnancy test to a male patient’s chart: Yeah, this one’s just fun across the board.
Attach a page of Egyptian hieroglyphics to charts: It actually may be easier for them to read than the doctor’s hand writing.
Every time the overhead speaker is used, run to the nurse’s station: “Was that for me!? I missed it.”
Or, whenever the overhead speaker is used, act terrified: “The voices! They told me I wouldn’t hear the voices anymore!” or “God? Is that you?”
Stand backwards in the elevator: Loudly proclaim to all who enter that it is the longest elevator ride you have ever been on and you’ve been waiting for the doors to open for an hour.
Secretly replace all the names on the white board with celebrity names: The nurses get to take care of Madonna, Justin Timberlake, and Beyoncé all in the same shift! OR, better yet, Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, and Po.
Attach sheets together to make a rope, put one end in the toilet, and hide under the bed: Listen to your nurse try to explain what happened to you to Security.
In all seriousness, though, I have this to say to all the nurses out there: YOU ALL ROCK! It takes a special kind of person to be a nurse. I sure don’t envy you your jobs, BUT I do appreciate that you are there, helping people. Every. Damn. Day. From the family members sitting next to our loved ones, anxious and afraid, Thank You for all you do. We need you, and we love you all.
Happy Nurse’s Week!
Now I’m not about to pontificate like some hippy guru coming down from her cabin in the Vermont mountains, but please, take a look at the picture below. That’s our universe. It’s where we live. See how small we are? See how absolutely minuscule our existence is in the grand scheme of things? We’re pretty much a drop in the bucket and that’s being generous.
I don’t mean to say this to be depressing. Quite the opposite, truth be told. It’s supposed to be a reminder that before we get livid over political differences, religious beliefs, or even just the people who cut in front of us in traffic, we should remember that we’re really sort of insignificant in this vast web of gases and atoms.
Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be involved in what’s going on in our world today, especially politically speaking (goodness knows, we have to be now, more than ever), or that we should give up on our faith to placate someone else… what I am saying however, is that when it comes to arguing with strangers online or with Uncle John at the next family dinner — neither of whom will be listening anyway, because they’re so entrenched in their own mindset — maybe rethink your participation in an argument that will only serve to create stress and anxiety for you and will likely end up being more of a name-calling contest than a civil debate anyway.
Instead of getting enraged, how about we just focus on being nice to each other? That’s it — just be nice. Pretty simple, right? I just think that as we rotate around our gargantuan sun that in itself is part of an unimaginably vast galaxy within an inconceivable array of other galaxies (with the potential of other dimensions that could be just as large), let’s just try to make the ride a little more pleasant for each other.
And let’s not include just humans in that concept – include animals, too. Be nice to other living creatures. I mean, really, how hard is that? When you sit down and think about it, it just seems like the most logical thing to do.
However, I know it will never happen on a large scale because we’re human after all, and something as simple as “being nice” would just never work for our species as a whole. It’s beyond us, which is sad, really. But imagine what we could accomplish if we could pull off this amazing yet simplistic feat! The issues that could be settled and the problems that could be resolved are boundless.
So maybe we start small. Maybe smile at that neighbor who is always grumpy or hold the elevator for that person who is obviously late. Perhaps throw some food to the stray you usually shoo away. Or give some change to the homeless person you always try to ignore as you make your way to work. Maybe realize that your kids can have a bad day too so you ignore the half-made bed that would normally spawn a lecture, and instead pull out a family board game. It should all be so easy, really.
And the craziest part of this hare-brained idea is that the world, which is already so overwhelmed with stress and worry, would actually become a better place, allowing for less and less stuff to be stressed and worried about. I know….ironic, right?