Friday, June 15, 2007

How's your bullpoop-o-meter?

Today, I blather.

What is it about getting older that makes us grow more outspoken about things that used to seem small and yet remain silent on things that used to seem big?

Call it maturity, call it grumpification. Either way, it's very real.

I seem to have reached a magical point in my Maslowian self-actualization that never appears on that pyramid thingy. You know you've reached this point when you stop arguing about whether there's a God ("ehn...who knows? Does it really matter?") and start speaking up when the kid serving you at Winners is too engaged in her conversation with the next cashier to hear you politely request that she remove the plastic hanger from your new shirt before putting it in the bag. So you ask her again. And she raises her voice so that her friend doesn't miss ONE SECOND of her FASCINATING tale of how she was SO WASTED at Grad. So you wave your head around a little to try to make eye contact. And she responds by ACTUALLY STOPPING what she's doing to answer her friend's inquiry into what she'd thought of Linda Feinsten's hideous chiffon dress. So you loudly say, "excuse me miss," cutting her off and she looks at you like you're vermin she has just noticed crawling over her counter. Into which face of utter belligerence you shout, "I ASKED YOU TO TAKE OFF THE HANGER. WHY AREN'T YOU TAKING OFF THE HANGER???" To which she snidely replies with that ultimate insult, "Sorry MA'AM."

As an example only, you understand.

(That yappy little chippy had it coming.)

I NEVER imagined I'd reach this point, but I have. And it extends to the way I deal not just with strangers, but with family and friends as well. I now understand my grumpy great-aunts and uncles. They weren't grumpy. They just had finely tweaked bullshit-o-meters.

And there's the nub of it, isn't it? I think after a certain amount of life experience you start to see when someone's being genuine--even genuinely ignorant is okay--and when someone's just being lazy or arrogant or selfish--in other words, bullshitting themselves and/or others.

On the flip-side, you start calling out your own bullshit too. It can be very edifying. Also endlessly humourous.

All in all, I think it hones your sense of individuality and your sense of compassion. You realize you're not the only person in the world with the only opinion on the planet, and that others--who may see things very differently--are just as convinced that they're right. And that's just a-okay. You realize your own capacity to cause others joy...and pain. You see how that thing you said could have been taken the wrong way, and you regret having said it. You feel proud when you make someone else feel good. I'll stop before I crawl into bullshit territory.

And so even while you're tweaked to the old b.s., you are better able to put yourself in other people's shoes for a second and ask, "enh...who knows? Does it really matter?" And once in a while you realize it does matter, and that you've acted out of turn, and you realize why the Golden Rule makes good socioeconomic sense. And other times you choose to be full of it, because sometimes a little bullshit goes a long way.

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Blogger angrycandy said...

781478i now write letters of complaint to companies when i have been treated badly by thier employees (o.k. 3 times)...anyway, it did nothing (companies never responded - i got nothing free) but i truly feel that someone "higher up" needs to know how shitty their customers are being treated. rather than just bitch at the sales clerks themselves (which i also do)...anyway, as someone who's worked in the client service industry for eons, i know how easy it is to be polite, so i have little patience for those who are rude. mind you, i have some customer horror stories too...moral of story, people are a pain in the ass...

anyway, i know that wasn't the main point of your blog but i got my knickers in a twist thinking about snotty sales clerks...grrr...think i'll go write me another letter...

11:27 AM  
Blogger MairĂ©ad said...

Sometimes you just HAVE to talk up. The trick is to know when. Some weeks I feel like I'm calling the whole world to account, and then at other times I'm serenity personified...

5:14 PM  
Blogger whyioughtta said...

Addendum to my post because I don't want to post yet another post quite yet:

Further to my point of justification for grumpy harumphing: I just got off the phone with Bell Canada (the Canadian phone overlords)because my voice mail was not working.

"Emily" answers my call. "Emily" is an automated attendant. "Emily" is supposed to be a voice recognition system that serves you in much the same way as a living human. To say "Emily" is a customer service rep is akin to calling the Zuse Z3 a computer. (Wikipedia it).

Emily needs an axe taking to her.

Bell: FIRE EMILY! And hire more humans you bastards.

Also: On same call, I was transferred six times. Not counting the times that "Emily" heard "voice mail" as "e-mail" and "customer service" as "I will hunt you down and kill you, you godforsaken non-entity."

Of course, I took all this out on the last unfortunate man who served me. He was actually really nice and didn't try to cross-sell me anything. He didn't bullshit me with excessive niceness. He just fixed the problem and defused my anger. Goes to show that even a company as customer-clueless as Bell lucks into quality people once in a while. It's just sad that his great service was despite their Emilyfied customer service practices.

5:16 PM  
Blogger whyioughtta said...

p.s. Mairead: Mastery of when to talk up is truly an artform. I have yet to personify serenity, but I'm working on it...

5:18 PM  
Blogger Fat Sparrow said...

Shit, I'm doomed. I've been that way since birth, and it's only gotten progressively worse. I was always the person that spoke up. Now that the hot weather (96 degree+) has hit, my crank-o-meter has definitely gone up quite a few notches, and everything and everyone is on my last nerve. It dawned on me today that I've turned in to Cartman, which is not a good thing, as Cartman is a prick. The level of stupidity in the people surrounding me has simply become intolerable, and I find that most of the phrases coming out of my mouth are along the lines of "God dammit!" "Fuck's sake!" "Fucking hell!" "Suck my balls!" and "Were you born a mong, or were you dropped on your head?!" All of which are not likely to make me friends or influence people, at least not in a way that will be the slightest bit helpful to me.

Do you know that my daughter, the fucking Honor Student, the one that takes Advanced Placement classes, came out of her bedroom tonight and announced that she was going to be wearing her Dance Class shoes, her leather jazz shoes, the ones that I paid $20 for, to the beach tomorrow, to go fucking SNORKELING, no less, and could not understand in the least why I chased her around the house with a butcher knife. Can you believe that? How can you be almost 16 years old, and not know that your mother will get an overwhelming urge to kill you if you come out of your room and calmly announce that you are planning on ruining a perfectly good pair of shoes, a pair of shoes that will be useful for dance classes to come, a pair of shoes that she HAD to have for this class, that she just HAD to take, and she thinks I was "over-reacting." Oh, if only people knew how much I hold back....

I'm off for a date wih Prince Valium.

3:51 AM  
Blogger whyioughtta said... it DOES pay to keep them chained in the basement until they're 18ish...

Good to know.

(Do jazz shoes have flippers? I'm struggling to understand the snorkelling-jazz connection...Kids can be so creative in their money wastage.)

7:36 AM  
Blogger Fat Sparrow said...

You've seen "beach shoes," right? You know, they have the mesh uppers, and thin rubber soles for going over rocks, shells, etc.? Well, jazz shoes are kind of a hybrid between these and ballet slippers. They're leather, but very flexible and thin, with thin rubber pads under the ball of the foot and the heel of the foot. The Fledgling Sparrow thought they would make an excellent substitute for beach shoes, which she does not have. I told her to wise up; they're leather and they're held together by glue. The friend that she's going to the beach with is providing all the snokeling equipment, as her older brother is taking them, and he dives as a hobby. She doesn't have beach shoes because we live 60 miles from the nearest beach, and she goes maybe once every 3 years. I told her if flip-flops weren't good enough for her, she could talk her friends into making a stop at the bank so she can raid her savings account, and then hit Wal-Mart for beach shoes. Despite protests of how delicate her feet are, she declined to spend $7 of her own money on beach shoes.

Like that old bumper sticker said, mothers of teenagers know why animals eat their young.

P.S. -- The phone company is better off with "Emily." If they hire more humans, they will outsource the work, and the voice recognition on those outsourced humans isn't much better than Emily. A trick I use, and often, when I want to talk to a real person at a company with an automated system, is to simply hit "0" before they get into the automated crap. Hit it repeatedly. You'll get a lot of "I'm sorry, our system does not recognize your response" but if you keep pressing "0" you will get someone. It usually takes about 10-15 seconds. Works like a charm on every system I've tried, as long as you're calling during regular business hours.

8:56 PM  

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