I spend a lot of time around people. Because some of what I see is downright depressing I often try to distance myself from the actions of others by dispassionately observing and attempting to draw logical conclusions from the evidence and data. This may make me seem to be a rather aloof person who sees himself as being better than other people. After spending a couple of minutes examining that description of me I decided I can live with that.
The first observation was something I had been kicking around in one form or another for some time and then I heard a guy on a podcast (Marc Maron) put it pretty succinctly. His basic message was people’s brains are hardwired to “find the bad guy”.
This doesn’t just mean it is easy to spot Darth Vader is the bad guy because he is dressed like Johnny Cash’s closet exploded quite near him. It means in run of the mill life people look for who they will cast as the bad guy in their own personal life story. Like the guy at work who has no problem shirking his duties so other people’s lives become more difficult. It is not unreasonable to cast him as your own personal Snidely Whiplash while you Dudley Do-Right through your day. The inept boss who constantly makes the lives of his underlings downright crummy is another example. That guy, on some level, deserves being mocked by his employees as they call him Voldedork a.k.a. He Who Must Not Be Able to Pour Water Out of a Boot Even with the Instructions Written on the Heel.
There is another motivation behind people finding the bad guy in their lives. This motivation could be called “blame displacement” (also swiped from Mr. Maron). This is when people have screwed up all by themselves but look for a bad guy to blame. We have probably all done this at one time or another.
Like that time you were backing up out of the garage and due to your own inattentiveness you got too close to the wall and broke the rearview side mirror. Most of us just start using all the words our mothers told us never to say and then go looking for the duct tape. The people who choose to go the blame displacement route will start looking for the bad guy.
Oh, it wasn’t my fault I broke the mirror on my car. It was because of those darned politicians. If Congress hadn’t passed the Smoot- Hawley Tariff of 1930 which raised tariffs to the highest levels in U.S. history since the Tariff of 1828 than the economy might have rebounded faster during the Great Depression and World War II might have never happened which means Japan would not have been forced to become a country who only made electronics and cheap dependable cars which eventually caused American homebuilders to shrink the size of garages built post 1979 to sizes not conducive for parking anything larger than a Datsun 240Z and I wouldn’t have ripped the rearview mirror from the door of my man sized Chevrolet Pangaea. Curse you Reed Smoot and Willis Hawley!
Now to the second observation. People do not say thank you often enough. Oh, sure people say “thanks” all the time but that has become as meaningless as the word “fine” when said in response to “how are you?” It is simply pro forma.
Before we go on I feel I must say I still want people to say “fine” when I ask them how they are. I do not have the time or the stores of sympathy required to listen to a litany of maladies, both major and minor, that people are actually experiencing at every given moment of their lives.
How are you? Oh, my sacroiliac is acting up, the Eustachian tube in my left ear filled with fluid last Thursday and is really causing me some discomfort and I think I may be developing a case of scurvy because you just can’t find good citrus fruit around here. (Don’t care, sorry.)
Back to thank you. This week I worked on a project which wasn’t all that fun with a group of co-workers. After it was all said and done I sent them a heartfelt thank you note. The responses I got made it look like I had volunteered to give them a kidney. If thank yous had been more common in their lives mine would not have elicited such a response.
Christopher Pyle is certain there are times he deserves being called Voldedork, but he is particularly pleased with that joke so he won’t mind. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.