Archive for the 'My Secret Vocabulary' Category

15
Apr
11

The Should-Be

Often I hear people say things like: “They shouldn’t be treating people that way”; “Guys should know to put the toilet seat down after you’re finished peeing”; “Popey’s should’ve had plenty of chicken stocked up” (funny youtube video); “That’s just not the way things are supposed to be.”

Well how should they be? And, more importantly, according to whom? The should-be is a widely used, specifically subjective term. The way things ‘should be’ to me – a southern, middle-class, mildly conservative male who likes Pork Chops and Succotash with his stove-top, hot sauce and beer – would be drastically different than a Petit English woman named Ms. Gertrude Prudey, whom prefers non-fat Jam on her crumpet, which she enjoys daily with a small glass of pinky-finger-raised hot tea. How different is the should-be for a 17 year old Somali pirate on the verge of starvation and beyond the outer limits of hope. How should things be if you were the mother of an Arab terrorist that is under a waterboard, on a table, in the middle of a windowless torture-for-vital-info room? But we will get to that shortly; for now, on the lighter side, let’s consider the Toilet Seat example.

I have never been able to understand, for the life of me, why women make such a big deal about us putting the toilet seat down once we are finished with our “number one” sequence. It is as if all women, once they reach the threshold of the bathroom, instantly become blinded as they approach that fickle little porcelin hole in the floor.  Apparently, they don’t have the where-with-all to even see whether the seat is up before they sit down. Or, providing the benifit of the doubt, maybe, yall (women) approach the toilet as if you were a defensive back – backpedaling, eyes strait ahead, hip to back at a perfect nnety degree angle, until your butt just happens to reach the toilet. And once you sit down, unbeknownst of the present position of the toilet seat, you have a 50-50 chance of falling in. Do woman actually do this? Has a woman actually sat down into a bowl full of toilet water? It’s hard for me to believe. Maybe. But, I don’t think so.

I think that the reason why they make such a big deal about it is because of a social disconnect that exists between men and woman. They (woman) take our (men) leaving the toilet seat up as an inconsiderate and dis-respectful thing to do. While some of the threshold-blinded-defensive-back women may actually end up with wet-ass-syndrome, most of the commotion as it relates to upright toilet seats can be attributed to a misunderstanding of cross cultural perspectives.  It is this social disconnect that I am concerned with as it relates to the should-be.

In college, while at Georgia Southern, a speaker in an introductory business class said, “We see the world through cultural lenses” – Changai Mwetti.  I feel like he meant that all people see all aspects of their life according to the culmination of experiences that have shaped their current view of the world. Furthermore; by nature, we are subjective beings and we judge others’ actions according to what we know as REAL – what ‘I would do’ and what ‘should be.’

Back to the Toilet Seat Example, the social or cultural disconnect between what should be from the perspective of the Man and the Woman is rooted in incentives that have been reinforced or challenged via experience throughout the course of the given person’s life. Me, as a man, thinking logically and in my own best interest, think to myself upon shaking it, zipping it, and buttoning it: “it sure is a good thing that I put the toilet seat up because otherwise I would have gotten a little bit of over spray on the seat and no-one wants to sit in that. Not that I’m too lazy to put it back down, but I’ll just leave it up so that it can dry before the next person comes in here.” As I walk out I pass a beautiful nice-butted brown-haired woman. She, being a sort of female anomaly that is neither blinded at the threshold nor feels the need to back peddle toward the toilet, sees the upward oriented seat and thinks to herself: “Even though that guy was ruggedly good looking, he has terrible manners. Why wouldn’t he just put the seat back down when he is finished? How freaking hard is that?”

Each player in this example has a completely different idea of what should-be; of what is GOOD. Notice that we have created our conception of the right way things should be done according to incentives that meet our best interest. Being that either up or down toilet seats for men and women respectively suit his or her best interest, consider the idea that such a conception is constantly reinforced on average, about 4 – 5 times per day.

Another example, would you steel if it were the only way you could eat? Would you steel if it were the only way your family could eat? Somalians, as do the inhabitants of many communities all over the world, live in a hopeless poverty that I cannot even fathom. In a society where genocide is commonplace, where can a young man be expected to find his place; where can he find a common ground with life; can he see a light at the end of his dreary, dark tunnel? The answer for many men and women all over the world is that they there is no way to make an honest life via hard work and education.

So they steel. At first, at six, a loaf of bread. Later, at twelve years old, a pick-pocketed wallet. As a man, at seventeen, much larger opportunities arise. All his life, the only way he has known is to steal. This is his should-be. To him, a man who isn’t expected to live past nineteen, hijacking cargo ships is a ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’ opportunity to really live. It doesn’t matter to him that US Marines can blow his head clean off from 450 yards away. Economically speaking, he is risking a two year loss versus a fifty plus year gain. To him, pirating is the only way. To him, this is a GOOD should-be..

Now, a personal question: how is your should-be? How is your should-be when it comes to using torture techniques such as waterboarding in order to obtain vital information? Think about the person you love the most. Picture their smiling face. Think back on the last time you saw them and what they were doing and what you were doing with them. Now, imagine that he or she has been kidnapped and is being held in a very unpleasant place like the girl in “Taken” . You know that if you don’t find him or her soon, they will be killed or worse. Finally, imagine that a man sits in front of you tied, hands behind his back, and he knows exactly where to find your missing loved one. What should-be done to find out what you need to know?

It’s a matter of perspective.  I can look at the front of building with it’s grey marble facade and tall glass doors from corner to corner and all the way up, but that’s not the whole building.  There are three other sides to that building and a floor plan and an interior and four elevators that reach fifty-nine stories, each with offices and closets and restrooms and nooks and crannies that I could not even imagine from the spot on the sidewalk that I stand looking at it’s front door and corner to corner and up squinting from the glare of the sun that shines from the clouds.

What should-be is,

so then why not just

focus on the IS, respecting

each other’s perspectives

and learning and growing together.

Do More Now.

23
Jan
11

Degrees of Invitation

We’ve all been there; at a party or a wedding or a networking event or a bar where you feel as if you just don’t quite fit in.  You’re sitting there on the coach or perched in one of the less favorable spots of the bar near the trash can in the corner.  Sipping the crown and coke viciously, not because it’s that good or because you think that a little liquid courage will spontaneously ignite you in a conversation, but because it gives you something to do there in the corner by yourself or with the one friend you came with.

– The worst part is that it’s usually not like this.  Usually, you’re big pimpin’ it with a group of 8’s, laughing it up by the bar about something clever you’ve just said.  On some nights, at the old home-town parties, you’ve even been the center of attention; the axis on which the party spins.  You were the Invitor of the gathering and not just a degree of invitee.

For a party, which is probably the easiest explainable example, the Degrees of Invitation are simple:

1. If you were directly contacted by the Invitor, then you are a first degree invite.

2. If your friend was directly invited and you arrive with him / her, then you are a second degree invite.

3. If you are the friend of a friend of the Invitor, then you are a third degree invite.

Thereon, hypothetically, a friend of a friend of a friend would be a fourth degree and so on; but parties with more than ‘6 or 7’ 3+ degrees of invitation at a single party are rare.  Why?

Because ‘we don’t talk to people we don’t know.’  We are taught from a very early age, “don’t talk to strangers.”  Our group is a Meet the Parentsesque “circle of trust” with an invisible barrier set up on behalf of the group so as to preserve it and keep it in it’s own benign little culture.

Subconsciously and by the way we dress and speak in our native slang we, as members of our group, reject those who are new and those who differ from us in any sort of way.  We pick them apart behind they’re backs, saying that they are weird or we call them yankees or freaks or socia’s (The Outsiders) or, especially if you live in the south, much more discriminating names.   We click together and ignore the others on purpose as in order to be included in that covetous in-crowd.  For here must be outcasts on behalf of the insiders; but there is an exception.

Introduce the High Five Scale of Acceptance.

For years, when going out or to parties, I’ve noticed a direct relationship to the good time I have to the number of high fives I get.  Of course, I’ve considered the idea that maybe I’m just wierd (pun intended) to this effect and it’s just me, but I know, on some level, we all do this.  Of course we do.  We love to be loved; to any degree, we need to be accepted and known and have some sort of history with others so as to feel comfortable with ourself while speaking to them.

For the very act of feeling “out of place” is feeling unwelcome.  Sure, the literal act of a high five can be replaced with whatever sub-cultural norm it is for greeting someone in your socio-economic age group.  Still, the gesture of a warm, familiar greeting embarks in anyone confidence to socialize with others whom he didn’t know previously.  They (easy high fives) are like layups for a white boy in pickup game.  I practice it almost superstitiously and so has anyone who has ever been “fashionably late.”  Sometimes I’ll even schedule a ‘forgotten phone in the car’ or ‘need to stop to tie my shoe’ just to have a reason to come in to the bar a little bit after my friends and trade high fives and smiles and an exageratted “WUSSSUPPPP” and laugh ferociuosly at myself not only because it’s fun but because it’s cool.

It’s cool to be fashionably late (within the last 30%, but not the last 10% to arrive) because most of the could-be High Fives that you potentially have there, are there.  So you show up 45 minutes late and grab three easy high fives off the rip and your confidence is souring.   Now that you’ve made an easy cherry-picken hoop or two, the group will be more inclined to figuratively pass you the ball and you can run with it all night long.  It is in this way that we tend to accept the accepted and that is how entrance to groups is gained and so how groups grow.

But what if your a 3rd degree invite talking to mostly 1st and 2nd degree’ers?  There will be resistance, sure; unless you’ve grabbed a few High Fives as soon as walking in the door.  After a certain point, 3rd degree invite who gets x high fives, will become more popular at the party than even the Invitor.  This phenomenon could be called “The New Kid in Town” effect.  How many High Fives does it take to gain access to The Group?  How does the High Five Scaler of Acceptance (HFSA) measure up versus the Degree Of Invitation (DOI)?

It’s a good question, but it’ll take some more observation before I assert an honest equation.  Until then, it’s relevant to consider the people who you bring along to parties; for introductions and business associates alike.  Any good salesman knows that there is a certain pecking order needed to follow in order to get to the top of the pyramid.  He knows that it is necessary to solicit an invitation from, say, the maintenance manager prior to gaining an audience of the head of engineering.  Further, he understands that if he can build a history with the former and his collegues, then acceptance from the later will be more easily gained.  The degrees of invitation may shape one’s social circumstance, but they don’t have to; not if you play the game right and cool and enthusiastic, all at the same time while continuing to Bee yourself.

Meet more people.

Have an abundance of experience with them all.

Don’t hate, love the game and play it well.

Do More Now

Parenthesized Afterthoughts: (This idea began on a post from my old blog, entitled, The Friendly-Shady.  I’ve linked them so as to link the old MSV to this one.  Within the coming months, in business and in life, I’ll be sure to observe and post on the relationship of the High Five Scaler of Acceptance to the Degree of Invitation.  The economist in me already has a graph plotted.  Until then…)

22
Jan
11

Earthquake Phobia

While I’ve never actually lived there, nor ever even experienced one, I can imagine the mental state of someone who is mortally terrified of dying due to an earthquake, yet continues to live in California.

Living in Florida, yes, every season we are in a perpetual threat of the next Katrina; a hurricane so violent that all we know or ever knew would be swept up in a matter of hours and drowned in a just few days; the life we own sunk like a great ship and resurrected and forever altered.

But hurricanes can be predicted.

They can be tracked with their course plotted and the area in which they will impact drawn in with red and orange and yellow circles.  Those who have the means have a chance to gather up old pictures, hand-made christmas ornaments, and baby-feet stamps and pack up all the things that can’t be re-created.  Like we did in ’96 for faux Hurricane Bertha, we had the chance to pack ’em up into two cars until the back glass of the Blazer would barely close and the door was as full as “Uncle Buck’s” closet, dog in tow, with walky talky communication between cars, taking on-the-side-of-the-road restroom breaks as we drive 100 miles west to Valdosta.  The evac took 8 hours bumper to bumper, with your neighbors who all are also packed to the brim, desperate to outpace the approaching storm in the rear.  Like us, they, amidst thier worry, couldn’t help to hold back the kind of grin a kid gets when he’s gotten away with something clever.  Concerned yes, but we were thankful for our safety; thankful for the warning.

But that isn’t the case with earthquakes.  They Happen!!

Imagine the anxiety therein for this person thats scared to death of them.  They fear something that is completely beyond thier control and is impossible to predict.  The Earthquake Phobic (EQP) lives her days scaling paths covered in eggshells.  She tip-e-toes to the bathroom, pausing for a second in between the doorway, holding it with both hands for a minute while she takes a deep breath and then she does her business and gets back to work.  On the way home, she hesitates before accelerating past newly formed green lights.  Home, a tall glass of wine is waiting by her book, which she reads devotedly beneath an old-fashioned lamp that sits proudly at her bedside table.  Rinse.  Repeat.

Ants marching in an early grave, she might as well be scared of air.

The only thing that I can think of to relate to her is when I was around 12 or 14 and still a fear-led Christian.  In that great age of discovery that is adolescence, I was just old enough to sin via stolen cigars and snuff bandits and porn and drinking my friends parent’s vodka.  It was a time that should have had no worries.  But I was also now able to comprehend, on a semi-adult level concepts such as hell and Satan and the Rapture, whence those who were presently in accordance with the will of God would be called up and the rest of us would be doomed to live or die in a failing, plagued world.  It would be a sudden “earth-shattering” event that would change the world I know forever and it began to eat at me, piece by piece, like those ants would if I’d give them the chance.

I was taught or, perhaps, I led myself to think, that in every sin a man would backslide from being saved in every curse word, lie or lustful thought that he commited and he could again win God’s favor by asking for forgiveness and repenting.  It was as if I was perpetually on the San Andreas fault in San Fransisco.  I remember thinking:

“I’d best be good; good as I can be anyway; don’t cuss; don’t even think those words; is it alright to think cuss words?; don’t look at her like that; but damn look at her legs; no, no, no; but look up top; damn, damn, damn; my bad; I repent; now, I’m fine, just in case, I’m good.”

I remember thinking : “Just in case it happens tonight, how fast can I repent so that I’ll still make it?  They say a trumpet will sound first and it’ll be in the twinkle of an eye.  How long will the trumpet play before the twinkle?  And how fast is a twinkle?”

Despite my fear, I just kept on experimenting with the cool things that I was led to by my friends and through my interest and I slept behind prayers and took “calculated risks” in my ventures of sin before I quickly repented and sighed and went on living.  I was eating my cake and having it too and it was fun most of the time, but eventually my EarthQuake Phobia slowly crept deeper – so deep that the fear turned into confusion and the confusion became deceptive and then, at some point, I don’t quite remember when, I just up and figuratively moved from California and then I felt fine, most of the time.

I had to get away from that fault line so as to escape the losing of my mind, but, of course, I’ve never really gotten all the way away.  Now, it lives in me and occasionally visits me idle-y at stoplights and sunny-day desktops.  “What if the life I know ends right now?  Would I be proud of the pictures I took in the doing of today?  Would they make the Uncle Buck Blazer?”

“Do more now today”  I’ll whisper to myself.

“But don’t forsake tomorrow”, I’ll whisper back.

It’s a game-of-catch riddle if I’ve ever heard one and I don’t know the answer.

In the mean time, however, we must find a way to make peace.  We’ve got to keep on searching; keep on doing; never all the one, nor never all the other.  One mustn’t get caught in the doorway like the Earthquake Phobic lady, desperately clutching the jambs in a frenzied worry.  Alternatively, the earth moves every day and  we’ve gotta keep a good hold on what is so as to avoid being crushed by falling debree that really is, understanding that the elusive ping pong ball that is peace-of-mind to a thinking man – it lies in the balance of the day-to-day doing, the nightly what-if preparation and also the looking-forward-to-it adventures of the will-be dreams of the future.  It, this instantaneous triangular equilibrium that is understanding, HAPPENS like an earthquake and it comes upon us without warning and then, for awhile, all that we know changes forever.

Look Forward to Earthquakes

and Live in the Now Wayne,

embracing the change

that’s gonna happen,

whether you believe

it will or not,

Do More Now.

Parenthesized Reflection: (At least, in writing this, I think I now know the reason for the spiritual apathy that voids me always.  Now, at least, every now and then, I’ll look in that direction too; you know, just in case.)




My Previous Vocabulary.

www.mysecretvocabulary.blogspot.com

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