Tuesday, June 28, 2016

How to Complain

Complain only when you have to.

Some people love to complain. On a Facebook page for parents run by my daughter’s college, one woman complained her daughter had a roommate who was never there. What?! My kid would give her eye teeth to have what is, essentially, a private room for the cost of a double.

When my kids were small, we sometimes went out with other families. There were some parents who would invariably complain in restaurants. They always wanted a different table. Or they’d let their kid order something, and then when it came and the kid said he didn’t want it, order the waiter, with a wave of their hand, to take it back. Of course, they didn’t want to pay for it. All the while, I was praying, “Please don’t spit in my food.”

People who like to complain do it because they want to take their frustrations out on a safe target (like the poor sap working the ticket counter at the airport) or to feel like “big wheels.”

Call me crazy, but I think lodging a complaint should be entirely goal-oriented: you’re trying to fix a situation that’s not right.

Consider what your approach is likely to trigger.

Is it getting you what you want?

The stupidest complainers ever were people in our apartment building who were consistently ugly to the super, the man who decided when, and if, your clogged toilet got fixed. I baked him cookies and paid his teenage son to water our plants when we were on vacation. Guess whose stuff got fixed first?

Be nice, reasonable, sane.

A hissy fit only gives them a reason to not help you.

You can always escalate later if you need to … and you don’t usually need to.

Really, it’s not hard.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Farty, An Adjective

What does “farty” mean to you?

Because I searched “farty define” and the correct definition is not on the internet!

All the definitions on Urban Dictionary are wrong.

Free Dictionary thinks when you call a person a fart, you are saying they are contemptible, annoying or irritating. No.

It is hard to put into words what “farty” means. But it isn’t a generic insult. It’s not even necessarily an insult. “Farty” is related to “old fart,” arty farty” and “farting around.” It’s when someone moves slowly and deliberately doing something they don’t have to do at all.

I saw a post by someone who kept track of the books in their Little Free Library. Little Free Libraries are cool but you do not have to keep records of them.  Nevertheless, this person wrote, “I tracked in the very beginning, but then became overwhelmed by the amount of time that I was spending and stressing over it.” He or she bought software to do it.


The other day, my husband watched, fascinated, this man – the poster child of fartiness –  use an old-fashioned scythe rather than a lawn mower to cut his grass. (I suspect he made the video because people in his real life had heard quite enough about scything.)


And incidentally, yes, I’m being farty right now.

However, I leave you with a few fun facts I learned:  The word “fart” is ancient; people have always had a word for it. In fact, we used to have two words, “farting” for farts that make noise and “fisting,” for silent farts. “Fisting” even had some onomatopoeia going on. So much better than the ungainly “silent but deadly.” Unfortunately, the word now brings to mind the thing you make of your hand or the sex act. Oh, well.

Monday, June 13, 2016

What’s Your Superpower?

He's lucky he's cute.
Tony hasn’t messed in the house for a long time.* 

Even so, his superpower remains: Given all the possible options, he will always pick the place I least want him to. If I put him out, he might pee right there on the welcome mat. (His oh-so-tragic facial expression says, “Oh, but it’s drizzling. I might get wet.”) Though he’s got the whole yard, his mission is to poop in the garage.

Some people can suck every bit of fun out of anything, through their worry, their rigid thinking, their control-freakiness, their incessant complaining. Alternatively, some people are crazy-making risk takers. (Have you noticed? They rarely get hurt. It’s the people who are with them, like you or me, who do.) Some people are just mean. Some people, God bless ‘em, just breathe loud or snap their gum or say “Ya know what I mean?” after every phrase.

But as my sister always says, perhaps pointedly, “It’s easy to see other people’s stuff but not your own.”

So, what’s my superpower?

Ach, I see myself in almost all the ones I’ve listed … except I’m not a risk-taker and haven’t ever peed on the welcome mat or pooped in the garage.

What’s your superpower?

*Yay! … Knock on wood … I doubt I will ever bet any money on Tony not peeing or pooping in the house, though I am, at this point, about 80% sure of him … If I do ever succeed at this, is there any way I could put “Housetraining willful little dog” on my resume? ‘Cuz it’s one of the harder things I’ve ever undertaken.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Gift of Gab

I don’t have it.

I wish I did.

I am fascinated by people who do.

Generally speaking, Texans are much better at it than people from the Northeast. Sorry.

But even here, people often don’t introduce themselves. Why is everybody so scared and/or clueless about doing that?  Because when we don’t, situations end up being so damned awkward.

So now, I introduce myself to everyone.

I learned a trick from my husband for parties. Look for someone standing there alone pretending that they want to be staring into the middle distance, stick out your hand and say, “Hi, I’m XXX. How do you know the host?”

Of course, I then promptly forget their names. I don’t think I’m alone in this.

However, I am currently sitting in a supermarket Starbucks. I haven’t been here, literally, for months. But whenever I am, a woman who works the counter (whose name I can’t remember) will say, as she did this morning, “Well, hello Miss Cheryl. How have you been?”

I told her that her ability to remember everyone’s name is amazing. “It is?” she said and shrugged.

How the hell does she do it?

One thing I have figured out is it’s not so much not remembering people’s names as it is not knowing them clearly in the first place.

So now, I’m really trying to do that: ask them to repeat it, say it myself, use it a lot, etc.

I was recently at a dinner party, though, where most of the guests were from India. One person introduced himself. OK. Another. OK. Then a group of eight came in together. Everyone’s name was a long string of unfamiliar sounds.

Nope, lost everybody’s.

I’ll keep trying.

Any tips?