Monthly Archives: October 2008
*Note – I originally wrote this post on Friday, Oct. 24. A little coincidental knowing what has taken place over the weekend.
I get frustrated with the verbal diarrhea that often comes out of people’s mouths. Now, I speak quite often but I would also argue that I spend an equal amount of time quietly observing the people and things around me. When I am a witness to some verbal diarrhea, I listen first to what the person is talking about and then listen to everything else that is being said. The unspoken message. The unspoken message usually reflects people’s insecurities and willingness to so easily believe the information they are handed without questioning the source and more importantly, without taking any real action toward change.
Allow me to provide a recent example:
Person #1: Well, I feel sorry for anyone who is going to get sick these days, with all of the nursing shortages and all. It’s a mess and they’ll be ignored and lying in some hallway.
REAL MESSAGE: I just recently read the paper and would like to state my very basic opinion based on the headlines in healthcare over the past fifteen years. I am retired but still feel the need to assert my authority by showing just how wise and knowledgeable I am.
Person #2: Yeah, they’re saying they are cutting 9000 nursing jobs.
REAL MESSAGE: (This is actually incorrect information, as I too, read the headline. They aren’t cutting jobs. They simply are putting a hold on creating 9000 new jobs). I will support your basic opinion with the rather large and obvious headline I just read on the front page of the paper that is sitting on this table.
Person #1: Well my sister was at a hospital in *some place* and she said the hallways were lined with beds and there was only one nurse in each hallway.
REAL MESSAGE: I will dominate over this conversation while further backing my basic opinion with an observation that may or may not be accurate from a family member. Quoting a family member will then strengthen my argument. (Insert insecurities that rest just under the surface).
Again, I do not claim to be perfect and have caught myself in this same situation (where insecurities guide my actions or statements). In these harmless examples, I simply sit back in silence, smiling and nodding in agreement.
It’s a fine line between being able to take unwarranted and incorrect criticisms with quiet dignity and standing up for what you believe in, even if it is based on a rather minor incident.
I was at a rehearsal today. A group I volunteer my time with a group that maintains a high calibre of performance. The conductor, known for his brutish comments and relentless criticisms, took aim at me today. It wasn’t the actual incident that bothered me so much but the degree to which it was carried out by the conductor. If I was to maintain my own professionalism, I simply had to back down and take it all.
I am now in a very interesting position. Feeling absolutely insulted (both professionally and personally) for something I didn’t even do, I am contemplating leaving this group. This decision is not new. It has crept up before on previous occasions of mistreatment and general negativity.
Here is the dilemma: If I leave, am I simply over-reacting to a crusty old man? If I stay, how long do I continue to feel played like a fool?
It is tough to figure out where my own personal boundaries are. I tend to surround myself with positive people and work very hard to keep the negative ninnies out. I refuse to volunteer my time only to treated with such ignorance and disrespect.
I will wait on the decision for now, as I must return to play a concert tomorrow with that same group (note that I’m doing this out of my own professionalism) but will need to make this decision soon.
One night, I arrived home from work and began my usual routine of changing into comfy clothes and starting dinner. As I was upstairs changing, I heard a beep coming from downstairs. It was one of those things you don’t admit at first that you’ve just heard so you ignore it. About a minute later. I heard it again. This time I went downstairs, hoping to find the source of the beep. I hung around down there until sure enough, it happened again. I immediately looked up at my smoke alarm. I had been having problems (see post below!) and figured the battery was low.
Knowing I didn’t have the right kind of battery, I went downstairs to the convenience store and purchased an overpriced 9 volt battery. Once back upstairs, I heard the beep again and quickly got back up on the chair to change the battery. As I unscrewed the smoke alarm to find that it in fact, did not even take a battery and was hooked up to my building.
Lesson #1: Never purchase an overpriced battery based on an assumption.
This was most distressing. With every beep, I was continually perplexed. I did the next logical thing. I called my brother to ask him what it could be. Being the calming force that he is, he suggested that perhaps it was a hidden carbon monoxide detector and I may find myself poisoned before finding the source of the beep. I then called my parents.
I was literally standing on the chair peering up at the smoke alarm while speaking with them. Indeed, this was a mystery. It always seemed that when I got off the chair, I heard the beep. I got back on and fiddled some more with some wires.
Then it happened. I heard the beep again but this time it seemed further away. While up on the chair, the sound seemed to come from below. I looked down and suddenly realized the source of the beep.
It was my new cell phone beeping because I had a voicemail message.
Perhaps I need this device.
It began shortly after I moved in. I can’t remember what I was baking at the time…perhaps just a frozen pizza or maybe chocolate chip cookies, but upon opening the oven door and putting the food in, the smoke alarm went off. I didn’t really understand it at first. I mean, there was no smoke and not even steam. The only conclusion I could come to was that it was the heat that was setting it off.
Knowing that I was not going to deal with this problem immediately, I got into a routine where I would swing the oven door open, practically throw whatever it was that I was baking in there and slam the oven door shut, all in about 1.5 seconds. Sometimes, if my timing was a bit off, I would follow the above routine with a quick sprint over to the smoke alarm, armed with a magazine and would frantically wave the magazine in hopes of warding off the gods inside the smoke alarm. Most times, it would work and during the times it didn’t, I would simply wave that magazine with all of my might and hope the incessant beeping would stop.
I finally addressed this safety concern with my property manager who, although admitted that many people had these problems, it would be my responsibility to pay to have the smoke detector people come in to look at it. I don’t think so! I told her I would simply wait until the next building inspection came along and wait to see what they found then.
When the next building inspection came around, I told them what the problem was and they confirmed what I had suspected and mentioned that many others in the building were experiencing the same thing. They then suggested that I “clean out” my smoke alarm because the dust could be triggering the alarm but aside from that nothing was wrong. None of that made any sense to me so I didn’t bother doing anything.
I was then informed by letter that upon inspection of my smoke alarm, it was determined that there was a malfunction and that I would have to replace it by a specified date with my own money. With steam coming out of my ears, I marched downstairs to speak to the property manager. She informed me that not only was it happening to others in the building but also to her in her own unit!! She then told me I didn’t have to pay anything and that the inspectors would come back to look at the smoke alarms of those who had problems.
I didn’t hear much about it until one day, there was a knock at my door. I was on the phone but answered it to find a repair guy who simply said “smoke alarm” to me, walked in, set up his ladder and changed the alarm within 5 minutes.
Fantastic! My problems were solved! I still had difficulty of shaking my frantic habit of whipping the food in and out of the oven in record time. Finally, last night, I decided to take my time (like a normal person). I opened the oven door, and slowly removed my pizza. BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!
Ah well! Better super safe than sorry!
Ever since first listening to ‘Oxford Comma’ by Vampire Weekend, I can’t help but ask the question: What are my Oxford Commas? You know…all of those things we do and all of those things we have that aid us in keeping up appearances.
We’ve all been caught in the game playing that goes on with keeping up certain appearances and I guess that a part of figuring out life is finding a way to live your most truthful and honest life among the many Oxford Commas that surround us. I admit that while I view certain Oxford Commas with disdain, I still find myself embracing others.