There’s a scene from the movie We Were Soldiers that more or less sums up my feelings about people who are trying just a little too hard to start the day off on a positive note. In that scene, Sergeant Savage approaches Sergeant Major Plumley and idly offers, “Good morning, Sergeant Major.” Plumley, his face twisting into a sneer that only a proper Sergeant Major can achieve, responds “How do you know what kind of god damn day it is?”
I think of that scene every single time I walk into the office and someone offers up a “good morning.” I haven’t even sat down at my desk, haven’t looked at the overnight emails, haven’t even gulped down the first part of a cup of coffee yet and here’s someone making a wild-eyed speculation about how the next eight hours will go. I usually mumble something about it being too early to tell and try to move on with the day without further comment.
I suppose there have to be people who climb out of their beds and expect nothing but good to happen that day. They cheerfully embrace it with both arms and bright eyes. Me? I’d rather let the day play out a bit before deciding if there should be a “good morning” greeting invoked. I’d far rather be greeted with an abrupt “’morning,” a form of greeting that acknowledges that it is, in fact, a new day while leaving open the possibility that it could be a complete shitshow long before the close of business.
Sure, “good morning” is usually just an offhand generic greeting, but I fear such pernicious positivity sets a bar that most days just won’t manage to climb across.
With today’s setting sun we’ve arrived at the halfway point of this week’s events. It’s also the shortest day on the schedule, so thinking of it as halfway done is a bit deceptive. Even if we are fifty percent finished, the more demanding elements of the schedule are still to come – the ones that historically run way over or way under their allotted time without much rhyme or reason for why it’s happening other than the vagaries of public speaking and lack of effective rehearsal time. Fun fact is that most people apparently have absolutely no concept of time once they’re in front of an audience… and they tend to ramble. A lot.
There’s a part of me that wishes I was an optimist and thought that all will be smooth from now through the end. The part of me that has done this more often than I want to remember knows that tomorrow will be the day the wheels fly off if it’s going to happen. I also know there isn’t a think I can do to change that trajectory in the next twelve hours. So, in the finest traditions of the bureaucracy, I shrug, get a few hours of sleep, and wait for the feces to intersect with the air movement mechanism… and people say I don’t know how to have a good time.
1. Trust. I’ve always been very open about the fact that I’m a cynical bastard. Even so, I’m always amazed at the level of trust people have in others that they really don’t know all that well outside a very narrowly defined context. Anyone can open their mouth at any time and tell you any manner of thing you want to hear… which is why I get immediately suspicious when they’re pitch is something akin to “Oh no, don’t worry about a thing.” There are a few exceptions to this rule, but it only applies to a select few who I’ve known for a decade or two.
2. Capitalism. I’m developing a rather intense hatred of capitalism, in which I’m throughly annoyed at the whole idea of getting up five days a week, slogging through traffic to arrive at work, spending 8.5 hours there, slogging through traffic to get home, going to bed, and then doing it all over again. Unfortunately, I have this insatiable appetite for “stuff,” which requires cash, which requires work. This is the 21st century. Why don’t we have robots doing all the grunt work leaving us free to not be bothered by such petty details as needing to trade time for money?
3. Seeing the bright side. Some people are hopelessly optimistic. They’d see the bright lining in a mushroom cloud. Sometimes, I don’t want to see the bright side. I want to sulk. I want to be annoyed. I want to be angry. and I want that feeling to spur me to action in a way that no amount of good feeling ever could. I’ve made plenty of bad decisions in haste and anger, but most of my best have also come from the same place. Even if it’s a mixed bag of results, it’s the spark that keeps things moving.