I use to treat the State of the Union Address like my own version of the Super Bowl – an excuse to eat, drink, and be merry while consuming the massive amounts of information being beamed directly into my head from the well of the House and a few well-selected news sites. It was good times, even with the understanding that what was being delivered live on television was, at best, a wish list of ideas rather than any definitive statements of policy.
Politics for the most part has joined the increasingly large number of topics that I mostly lack the interest in dealing with on the wholesale level. Yes, there are a few areas I care passionately about and pay close attention to, but the broader discussion of how many times a speech is interrupted by applause, or who did something stupid 25 years ago, or gods forbid, said something that someone, somewhere might find in poor taste. I’m sorry, but the field in which I grow my fucks is desolate and barren. I have not one more to give on “issues” like those.
So, like the actual Super Bowl that preceded it, I will not be tuning in to hear the president’s remarks on the State of the Union tonight. I know I can rest assured that by the time I wake up tomorrow morning Twitter will be sure to tell me exactly what I’m supposed to think about it. I’ll read the highlights. Probably.
Congress and the president have their own agendas and I have mine. Between the three, I’ll let you be the judge of which one I think is the most important.
1. “Work days.” Pretending that the day before and after Thanksgiving are “work days” is ridiculous. Sure, the lights are on and there may be a skeleton staff in the building, but no one is doing shit. Even if those who were in the office wanted to do something, the chance of them being able to find another person interest in and able to deal with that issue falls somewhere between slim and none. But year after year we continue the monumentally expensive farce of maintaining the illusion that these massive office complexes are “open for business” because it’s better optics than admitting that yeah, we’re going to go ahead and take a knee for three days. Illusion trumps reality every time.
2. Recycling. I like the environment and believe that recycling is a net good overall situation. That said, though, if you want people to recycle you’ve got to make it easy. To those of us who don’t spend our lives pondering the subtle differences, plastic is plastic. If you have to hire someone to yell at people when they drop the “wrong” kind of plastic at the tip, your process is not easy enough. I try to recycle because it’s the right thing to do, but honest to God if you don’t go back to “single stream” meaning an actual single stream I’ll just start paying the extra $5 on my monthly trip to the dump and you can bury it all.
3. Sales. I love Amazon… most of the time. When it comes time for their big sales, though, I can’t quite shake the feeling that what they’re really doing is just knocking a few percent off stuff they’re trying to clear out of the warehouse. That’s well and good, of course. It’s a sales model that’s been around as long as retail… but just because a random piece of junk is now 20% off doesn’t fill me with a burning desire to acquire a piece of junk that I wouldn’t otherwise want to own.
Sitting in our weekly staff meeting it occurred to me just what a self-important and inflated bunch we really are. Each week we get together and run through the litany of X, Y, and Z projects that we’re working on. Everyone looks pensive and serious as one after another of us drones on about things that no one seems to care about; a memo, an agreement, a PowerPoint presentation, or the old man’s travel plans. I know this stuff must be important because we’re all wearing ties.
I’m not exactly sure what I’m feeling at moments like this. It’s probably some combination of disbelief tempered with an appreciation of farce. I just have so many issues with the “so what” of it all. Maybe my misanthropic tendencies have finally gotten the better of me because I’m having a hard time finding a reason to do more than just what it takes to get by.
Lately, good enough is good enough. I don’t want it to be though. I want to do work I’m proud of. I want to do work that matters more than moving papers from one desk to another. Look, I’m not going to run away from the job, the pay, or the benefits. I’m annoyed, but not crazy. Some people are passionate about this stuff. Even though I’m good at it, I just happen to not be one of them.
At least I’m wearing a tie… so I know it’s important.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.