What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Over sensitive douchenozzels. Many documents we pass around require some kind of specific coversheet. For years now, hanging on the back wall of all the cubes I’ve inhabited are fictitious versions of these covers, identifying them as coversheets for information that is Stupid, Futile, Bullshit, etc. In the wake of morale hitting rock bottom and starting to dig, it seems that those little bits of paper have now been adjudicated as being “not funny and inappropriate.” I wish more people understood sarcasm. I also wish people were less thin-skinned. Most of all, I wish I didn’t spend five days a week in the company of at least one cowardly douchnozzle whose identity is unknown, because as of this week I know there’s at least one person in that room who can’t be trusted.

2. Cicadas. I found the first evidence of cicadas on the back porch this very morning. The two things that stick with me from the last round of these little beasts being above ground is the unholy amount of noise they generate and a particular chocolate lab who thought they were treats in the wing called forth just for her indulgence. Of course I deny these dogs almost nothing, but watching them chow down on a yard full of bugs is just a bridge too far. I wonder if somewhere on the dark web someone is selling a can of DDT. It would be awfully tempting if I thought that would do the trick.

3. Shopping for clothing. I don’t know that there’s a word in the English language strong enough to describe just how much I hate clothes shopping for myself. It ranks well below tagging along while other people shop for clothes, if that tells you anything about where it falls on the list. There was a time when I would just force myself to physically go to the store and do it. Now, mostly I just go to the closet, find the brand and size of something I have and already like and then order the exact same thing (or as close to it as is currently available) in three or four different colors. I don’t suppose I’ll ever need to wonder why my basic wardrobe hasn’t much evolved since the late 1990s. Still, it’s better than leaving the house for clothing.

Untied…

It occurred to me this morning that there’s probably a deep psychological reason I’m so adamantly opposed to wearing a tie. Sure, I could give you the usual song and dance about them being constrictive and uncomfortable or about them serving absolutely no purpose in the modern world, but deep down I don’t think that’s the reason at all… even though those are all perfectly valid issues with the standard necktie.

1288298661684133102The real problem with these damned decorative bits of fabric is that I never wear them on good days. I pull one off the rack for funerals, court appearance, work, and weddings – for good or ill, those aren’t what I consider the red letter days of my life. Those days are largely depressing and/or expensive hassles in which I’d probably rather not participate. In my near 40-year life, ties always come out for the pain-in-the-ass times.

The good times are marked with jeans, tee shirts, shorts, and muddy boots. They’re ratty clothes covered in dog hair and smelling of wood smoke or of diesel fumes and salt spray after a long day on the water. Never once on one of these good days did I sit back quietly and think to myself, “Wow, this day would have been so much better if I had on a tie!” On the other hand, nearly every time I’ve ever put on a tie, I know the day would have been better if I was somewhere else, wearing something different.

So there it is in a nutshell, my basic belief that ties aren’t just a pointless throwback noose we’re supposed to willingly put our necks into every morning. In fact, they’re basically nothing more than a visual cue that you’re about to experience a wasted day.

Thanks for stopping by tonight. This has been one of those occasional posts I make to give you a little insight into what’s churning around in my head while I’m standing quietly off to the side of the room observing the world around me.

What Annoys Jeff this Week?

1. Neck Ties. I completely understand that there are times when we all need to look just a little more formal. On an average day, though, when I’m going to spend 6-7 hours sitting behind a keyboard or going to meetings with people I see every day, putting on a tie is really just a pointless exercise. That’s why I don’t wear one unless I absolutely, positively, can’t avoid it. Certain men’s fashion magazines will tell you that it’s all about “self expression” and having “good fashion sense.” Meh. I express myself using things like the English language and I can’t remember a time I ever gave a tinker’s damn about anything involving fashion. Hard as it might be to believe, it’s just not something that ever seemed worth the effort to be interested in. As long as everyone shows up freshly laundered without body parts hanging out, I’d say we’re good to go. If I’m going to court or taking a meeting with the president, I’ll probably manage to find a tie that isn’t stained (too much). Otherwise they’re going to continue hanging in the closet in case I ever need a tourniquet. If companies like Apple and Amazon can make a gagillion dollars without anyone wearing a tie, I think it’s safe to say that a colorful piece of silk hanging around my neck like a noose isn’t going to make anyone more productive or professional. Mostly it’s just going to get in the way and make me uncomfortable until I pull it off and stick it back in my desk drawer. Thankfully, I’m winnowed the activities requiring a tie down to about one a week… and even then, I ditch the damned thing before going to lunch.

2. Fakes, flakes, and liars. There’s really only one standard of conduct I try to live by; do I do what I say I’m going to do. Most of the time, I do. Occasionally I miss the boat. Sometimes that’s intentional because the situation has changed and other times it’s because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control. That’s a long way of saying that I don’t always practice what I’m trying to preach. Most people, on most days, are trying to do the right thing and despite being a pessimist by nature, my natural inclination is to give people the benefit of the doubt. At least until they intentionally drop a steaming pile on my head. Then… Then they’re irredeemably dead to me. You’d think by this stage of the game, I would have learned to manage my expectations and not be caught by surprise. Still, from time to time, someone weasels through the gaps and catches me off guard.

3. Taking big bites. Sometimes biting off more than you can chew is fine strategy. It gives you something to work towards. The other side of that, of course, would be that sometimes the only thing a big bite does is get stuck in your throat and leave you sucking for air. Facebook, Twitter, jeffreytharp.com, a few other sites and blogs I contribute to, ebooks, email, and a few other odds and ends have been consuming a ridiculous amount of time and attention lately. Through in the probably misguided desire for all those interactions to be substantive on a daily basis and, well, you tend to end up taking very big bites. All of those things are voluntary, of course, and as I wrap up a few current pet projects I’ll be doing my best to limit new things I take on in those areas. In the meantime, I’ll be doing my best not to choke. If I start really feeling frisky, I might even decommission a few of the social media accounts I find myself not really using enough to justify having around. Yeah. That would probably be a great first step towards a more sane Jeff.

4. But wait, there’s more! I could go on, and on, and on, and on about the small things that are annoying Jeff this week, but I’ll spare everyone the administrative minutia. As my mother would say, I’m “in a mood.” In all probability, this mood will resolve itself sometime after 4:00 tomorrow afternoon. I’m more than ready to get into something that doesn’t require the application of more than two or three brain cells at a time.

How you know it’s important…

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.