Thursday, December 16, 2010

51 and Counting

Birthday gift suggestion.
Well boys and girls, I'm happy to report that after more than half a century, I have once again awakened on the right side of the dirt this morning. I don't like to make a big deal out of my birthday, but I'm sort of at the point in my life where I've become increasingly aware that there are more of them behind me than there are ahead.

I don't want to get all introspective on your asses, but except for the aches and pains that come with being a man of a certain age, I really do feel better than I ever have in my life. I'm learning not to sweat the small stuff, although I'm finding that the older I get, the less tolerance I have for people who choose not to use their brains, or, as you know them, stupid people.

It's true. I don't consider myself to be a rocket scientist, so if someone is dumber than me, that's really saying something. When a customer at work tells me that they don't know how to use a fax machine, a piece of technology that has been around for more than 30 years, I really have to exercise a great deal of personal restraint to keep from grabbing them by the throat and saying "It's just a fucking phone!" Instead, I have become a master of the Blank Stare.

I have found that when I'm at work and someone says something really stupid or racist or homophobic and I can't react in the way I'd like to and still keep my job, I pause and stare blankly at the offender and allow their stupid remark to hang in the air for a few seconds before I respond. This accomplishes two things. First, it gives me a little time to come up with a more "appropriate" response.

Second ~ and most importantly ~ the blank stare gives the stupid person, and others in the general vicinity, a moment to think about what they said.

Yes, I am aware that stupid people hardly ever think about what they say, because they've got that whole stupid thing going on. But sometimes this works out well and we both realize the stupidity in question was only a momentary brain fart. The person realizes what they said, laughs, apologizes and we start over, with a much more pleasant outcome.

But with the hardcore, stupid-to-the-bone customer, I have to take a breath and dumb down my vocabulary into small words and short sentences, while I look over their shoulder at the customer behind them and share a knowing look and a stifled giggle. Usually when they move to the head of the line, they'll say something like, "Wow, that guy sure is stupid!" Being the consummate customer service professional that I am, I am obliged to smile and agree.

Where am I going with all this? I don't really know. Maybe at my age, I've learned a few things about human nature or maybe I'm finding ways to have more fun in situations that used to stress me out. Or maybe I need to adjust my meds as I begin the long, slow decent into senility.

Whatever! Life is short. Laugh at stupid people every chance you get. It may not accomplish anything concrete or change the world, but it will definitely make you feel better about yourself.

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