Embrace Your Inner Scumbag

Worst Person In The World
I’m selling “Worst Person In The World” t-shirts as a fundraiser for next year’s Seattle Susan G Komen 3-Day walk. (I’ve got to raise $2,300 to take part in the event, a sixty-mile, three-day walk to raise funds for the fight against breast cancer.) The cost of each shirt includes approximately $20 for Susan G Komen. They make great holiday gifts!

Click here to order your shirt!

I grant you that there is NO CONNECTION between the message on the shirt and the fight against breast cancer, but from the look of things lately, nihilism is IN. Buy a shirt for that special someone in your life — or heck, buy one for yourself! And know that as you proudly announce your depravity to everyone you meet, you’re also supporting the fight against breast cancer!

Please re-share this!

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Wanted: Rundown Waterfront Motel for Depressing Experience

Old motelAs you all know, I’m all about the “wallowing in depression”.

Carole’s going to visit her parents in Ohio for Thanksgiving (Oakwood, a suburb of Dayton, FWIW) and I have no plans.

I found myself pondering today, “What would be the most depressing place to spend Thanksgiving by oneself?” I don’t mean “in solitary confinement in a Supermax” or anything like that. I’m thinking more in terms of “if one was to buy a plane ticket to anywhere in the lower 48, fly there, check in to the local Motel 6 or equivalent, and spend a week feeling sorry for oneself, where would be the best place to go?”

For some reason, I keep thinking in terms of “not terribly prosperous waterfront town”. There’s something very depressing about looking out at dark water under cloudy skies on a chilly day when everyone you know is spending their time with family and friends. Has anyone been to Traverse City, Michigan? Is it depressing? Or is there someplace much worse I should try instead?

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What is *wrong* with people?

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I hate myself and think that I’m basically the worst person in the world. Being chronically depressed can be like that.

But even though I hate myself and assume that everyone shares my opinion, I refuse to walk around acting like a total jerk. I may be a total jerk, but where I can, I try not to be. And one area in particular that I try pretty darn hard is in being polite to strangers.

When I was in France in 2010, I learned that it’s considered a major social faux pas if you walk up to a store clerk and just start asking for something without saying “Bonjour” and waiting for them to respond. In other words, you’re supposed to be nice to people, as a rule, and if you can’t be bothered to do that, people will think you’re a rude jerk. Carole and I consistently followed that rule, and we had a wonderful time. I suspect that people who come back from France complaining about snooty Parisians simply took for granted that they can treat people overseas the way they treat people back here at home, namely, like doormats.

I’ve tried to practice the same principle here in the USA. I don’t curse out a barista who screws up my drink. I just smile and wait to get their attention and politely explain. I let strangers merge in in front of me in traffic. I hold doors open for people who are carrying a lot of stuff. When I eat in a restaurant I compulsively clean up after myself, stacking places and silverware and making sure I haven’t left straw wrappers and napkins and bits of food everywhere. I’m nice to my waiter or waitress and don’t make their job harder than it has to be. I don’t assume that a customer service representative on the other end of a phone line is a faceless drone of some kind who exists solely for me to vent my spleen on. When they ask how I am, I cheerfully exclaim something like “I’m livin’ the dream! I’m a Green Mountain Power customer!” Nearly every time, I get told that I’m the first person with a positive/cheerful outlook they’ve talked to all day. And so on, and so on.

I don’t think my trying hard to be polite makes me an awesome guy. I still do a lot of annoying things that I wish I could stop. I talk too much. I think I’m funnier than I really am. I can be absolutely clueless at times. I have a hard time realizing when people don’t want me around. I sometimes have a really bad temper… but even if I’m mad enough to chew nails and spit out thumbtacks, I’d still stop and smile and hold a door open for a stranger and I’d still say “Please” and “Thank you” where appropriate. I’m not going to take out my bad mood on some poor hapless soul just trying to get through their day.

What bothers me is that my point of view is apparently uncommon enough that day after day, people I meet comment on it and act like it’s something unusual. Frankly, that makes me kind of sad. If a jackass like me can generally manage to be halfway nice to people, why can’t the vast majority of humanity?

I’m not asking for compliments here. Really, I’m not. I know this all sounds like a massive #humblebrag post, but that wasn’t my intent. I’m actually curious what other people think. Are people generally jerks as a rule, with some exceptions, or is the answer more that most people aren’t jerks, but the ones who are are such assholes that we tend to remember them and not the ordinary people in the middle of the bell curve?

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You Didn’t Have to Spare Me, But You Did, But You Did, But You Did, and I Thank You

Hardly a day goes by lately where I don’t see someone on Facebook or Twitter bemoaning the number of “idiots” on their friends/contact list who say imbecilic things about, say, the Louisiana flooding or some other regional misfortune. You know the kind of posts: “I had to defriend five people today for being jerks” and so on.

Apparently, the flooding in Louisiana has brought jackasses out of the woodwork to ridicule the people dealing with the loss of their homes, belongings, pets, and so forth and saying “this is what you get for ignoring global warming” or “this is what you get for being homophobic rednecks.” It’s not funny when a member of the religious right blames homosexuality or some other “sin” for a hurricane hitting somewhere; it’s not funny when the people on the other end of the ideological spectrum do the same in reverse.

And I’m extremely pleased to note that no one on my friends lists’ has said anything of the kind. Apparently my decision to cull my friends list down to zero and start over last year has paid off — I’ve only got people on my friends list that I know in real life and am at least somewhat interested in hearing from, and I don’t have any of the “guy I met at the gym who turns out to be a rabid David Duke supporter” types.

So I just wanted to thank you all for sparing me from a daily dose of crazy bigotry. I consider myself lucky that apparently I don’t know anyone whose day is brightened by adding a little hate to the world.

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Sign of the Times: Tesla versus Amazon

Furr garage

Which is more of a “sign of the times” that we live in, here in mid-2016?

The Tesla Powerwall in my garage? Or the big heap of empty Amazon Prime shipping boxes?

 

Tesla vs Amazon Prime: Which matters more in the zeitgeist?

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Blanket Apology To The Human Race (and Most Higher Orders of Animal Life, Excepting Only the Canada Goose)

angrygooseI spend every day of my life wanting to apologize to everyone I know on social media and quite a few of the people that I know in person.

I believe that most people who know me either:

  • think nothing at all about me, or,
  • think I’m an annoying, attention-hungry loser

I’m not worried about apologizing to people to whom I’m a complete non-entity; that’s actually the preferred state, I guess, given what I assume the alternative is. But everyone else — all the people I’ve annoyed, all the people I’m going to annoy, and all the people that I’m currently annoying — to you, I am very sorry.

I’ve spent my whole life doing impulsive, stupid things and then realizing how offended people were and then asking myself “why the hell did I do that?” And I suspect that there are countless more things that I’ve done that I didn’t pick up on. That when I leave the room people look at each other and just shake their heads. That people cheer up when they arrive and I’m not around. And so on.A)Please don’t give in to the urge to post a follow-up saying “but that’s not true at all.” I promise you — I did not write this with the goal in mind of having people respond telling me that I’m not so bad after all, or because I was fishing for sympathy.

I sometimes think that the only way I can avoid cheesing people off through my spastic, dumb-ass sense of humor is to say nothing at all to anyone, to stay off social media, and to never go out in public except to go to work. (Somehow, I’m able to adopt a work persona that gets the job done and doesn’t feel a need to go off on weird tangents. Usually, anyway.)

I’m not overly fond of the blanket excuse offered up by over-psychoanalyzed Late 20th Century Man: “My parents did this to me.” I imagine that everyone’s parents did various not-so-constructive things along the way, and I believe that blaming one’s misfortunes on one’s parents is just a lame albi. My father did spend my entire childhood telling me that I was a jerk, that no one would ever like me, that I was an idiot, that I was a quitter who would never accomplish anything, and so on. That probably contributed somewhat to my belief that I had no friends, that the world was pretty much divided into:

  • people who don’t know me at all
  • people who can’t stand me
  • people who barely tolerate me

I was careful growing up to never ever ever refer to someone as my friend, for fear that they would look at me with a repulsed look on their face and say “We know each other. We’re acquaintances. But we’re not friends.” To this day, I feel weird about the term “friend”. Other people have friends. I have people I haven’t completely cheesed off yet.

But I don’t think this way of thinking this is all my father’s fault. I’m a gray-haired 48-year-old man. It’s past time that I take responsibility for my own thoughts and actions. It’s fairly pathetic to say “stuff that happened over 30 years ago continues to shape my thoughts today and every day.”

I think that the truth is that I really do careen through life doing a lot of dumb-assed stuff, and always have, and unless I take up the life of a hermit, probably always will. I’m very glad that I’ve got my work persona to fall back onto, but I can’t be that way 24/7. Somewhere along the way I developed a strong work ethic… but when I take the necktie off at the end of the day, the other Jay comes out.

And so I spend a lot of time face-palming at my own actions and wishing like crazy I had an “undo” button. And since I don’t… I wind up apologizing a lot, or wanting to apologize, or wishing I could go back and apologize. Unfortunately, it’s virtually impossible to make amends to everyone you’ve ever hurt, even if they were disposed to give you a chance. In my case, there are just too many people.

Sorry

And thus, this post. To you, dear reader, I’m really, really sorry for anything and everything I’ve done to annoy you, irk you, cause you to sigh despairingly, waste your time, bore you, or otherwise act like a millstone around your neck. If you want to contact me for a more specific apology, please let me know.B)Seriously. If you resent me for having done something annoying, wrong, mean, or otherwise bad, and I’ve been too damn clueless to realize that I screwed up, I’d welcome the chance to at least tell you I’m sorry.

Unless, of course, you’re a Canada goose. The blanket apology, and offer of a more specific apology, does not apply to them. Canada geese are mean. To heck with ’em.

goosehead

Footnotes   [ + ]

A. Please don’t give in to the urge to post a follow-up saying “but that’s not true at all.” I promise you — I did not write this with the goal in mind of having people respond telling me that I’m not so bad after all, or because I was fishing for sympathy.
B. Seriously. If you resent me for having done something annoying, wrong, mean, or otherwise bad, and I’ve been too damn clueless to realize that I screwed up, I’d welcome the chance to at least tell you I’m sorry.
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Stupid Hypothetical Question De La Soirée

mysterious

If you came across a door in your house that you’d never seen before, a door that opened onto an absurdly large space that couldn’t possibly exist in your house or apartment as it currently exists — a space that resembled a very large empty warehouse with three or four locked doors (doors to which you have no key) but no windows — would you use the space beyond, since it’d amount to basically virtually unlimited free storage, or would you leave it alone and never go in there for fear that one day the force that joined the door to your dwelling would …unjoin it and take anything inside away to parts mysterious and unknown, or would you seal it shut for fear of what might come through from the other side?

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