I’m sure it was some touchy feely sociologist who first said that people only have the control over us that we allow them to have. That’s horseshit, of course. Some people have power over us because we were dumb enough to elect them and others because their block on the organizational chart is further towards the top of the page than ours. On the other hand, some people have power over us because the law says beating them to death with their own shoe is illegal and would result in us spending much of the next 20 years in prison.
Just slightly behind my abject fear of prison is the lesson drummed into my head as a child to be polite. Sadly, some people take a polite smile and nod as encouragement to continue doing whatever they’re doing while staying happily oblivious to the murderous glare you’re giving them at the same time. Eventually the thin veneer of civilization that separates us from the wild beasts is going to wear through just enough that any normal person can’t help but snap in response. Still, in the back of my mind I can’t help but wonder what it’s like going through life oblivious to the normally accepted social signs that your behavior is boorish and disliked. I half suspect it’s a bit like being the eternally happy, but not very bright family dog.
I’ve got an employee who hasn’t been able to come to terms with the fact that I’m leaving. Every day he comes in and wants to discuss events that are going to happen months from now and stands there blankly looking for some kind of meaningful response. Why he thinks that I’ll suddenly care at this late date and with my time getting very, very short I just don’t know. After four of five days of this, I though I’d make it very easy for him. I explained that, yes, I was leaving and no, I wasn’t paying much attention to what he just asked. I literally told him that I wasn’t paying attention when he was talking. I said it to his face in front of God and everyone… and he kept talking. Just kept right on rambling about whatever it was he decided was important that morning.
I still wasn’t paying attention, but this time it wasn’t due to lack of interest but because I was too stunned that even at point blank range he couldn’t process that I really didn’t care about what he was saying. Sometimes I wonder if it’s actually better to live life in that kind of bubble of obliviousness and just roll from task to ask happily unaware of the subtitles of the world around you.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of previously de-published blogs appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.
… as in “I’m going to crack open your rib cage and feast on your liver.” The entomology of this phrase has several branches. The first and most obvious, is as a reference to Hannibal Lecter’s famous liver and fava bean dinner, the other is the ancient practice of eating the body of a slain enemy to gain his strength. In my case, this is a phrase almost exclusively reserved for those who quite simply have not demonstrated the ability to drive a motor vehicle.
Usage of this phrase reached its zenith with the daily commute between central Maryland and DC. At this time it has almost entirely passed from regular use. That’s not to say that drivers in Memphis are any better than those in the DC suburbs… there are just fewer of them and rush hour is considerably shorter. Drivers in the DC area are aggressive, that makes sense to me. If you know your fellow drivers are aggressive you can plan accordingly… In Memphis, on the other hand, it seems that many drivers tend more towards being oblivious to what they are doing and the world around them, which makes them unpredictable. Come to think of it, maybe I throw this one around more often than I think.