Reverb 13 | December 24 | Crazy

Crazy: What one little thing drove you crazy this year?  Was it unique to this past year or has it been buggin’ you for a while?  How do you intend to get rid of it or resolve it in 2014?

I won’t lie. I feel like these prompts have been asking me to nit-pick my year– lots of “one thing this” and “one thing that” and it’s pretty hard to extract such exacts and absolutes when you are looking back over 365 days packed with thousands of “one things.”It is feeling less reflective of a year and more… pinpointy. Oh well, c’est la vie.

Here are a few of those “one things” that make me go bananas.

  • Minneapolis traffic before/during/after a snowstorm.
  • Automated menus on customer service calls. You can find me in the corner screaming “REP. RE. SEN. TA. TIVE!”
  • When drivers use the bike lane as a turn lane.
  • When people at work say, “Oh are you eating lunch?” and then launch into work questions anyway.
  • Poor customer service.
  • Every single thing about the grocery store on a Saturday morning: the parking lot, the carts, the way an entire aisle is made wholly impassable by a restocking employee, the way people touch EVERY piece of fruit before picking one, the woman who insists on paying by check.
  • Waiting. In any place for any thing.
  • People who are vague, unclear, unsure, or indecisive when asking me to do something or giving me instructions.
  • When a restaurant is out of a great beer and they don’t tell you until AFTER you have ordered that great beer.

As you may have already deduced, I don’t have any real problems. The things that annoy me are spoken mostly out of a place of very comfortable privilege, and I know that. At times, I am very good at letting things roll of my back and thinking, “Oh, there is only one cash register open at the grocery today and there are already 14 people in line? And this woman is buying 3,921 jars of baby food which must be individually scanned? Well, that’s okay! I am in no hurry and it is pleasant to just be still and take in the sights and sounds in this neighborhood place.”

I don’t think the goal has to be to never get annoyed, but to stay aware that I am not the only person on the planet and that these are not real problems. Is it annoying to wait at the DMV for 2 hours? Yes, and that will never not be annoying. Ever. But I can look around at all the other poor saps also blowing their weekend at the DMV and at least not feel so alone. And are these 2 hours so valuable that I am risking big or losing out because I am using them at the DMV? No. I am not missing hours of work that might make the difference between paying my rent or not this month. It is not time away from an elderly parent that needs cared for or a sick child. It is 2 hours I would have otherwise spent doing privileged things: going to the gym, going out for brunch, watching Netflix, reading a book.

There is a whole industry devoted to being perfect. Books and blogs that are supposed to help us not be annoyed anymore, to be the most loving spouse and parent, to examine our lives and cleanse ourselves of all our flaws. And we pump a ton of money and energy into listening to someone else tell us how to be better at being ourselves. This is ridiculous. Instead of working tirelessly to bury and hide my flaws, I have come around to accepting (some of) them and acknowledging them honestly. I am never going to be so zen that 3,921 individually scanned jars of baby food does not cause at least the thought of, “Good lord, are you for real right now?!” I’m okay with that.

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