Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I'm not being critical. It's just that you're sort of ugly.

It's no secret that we live in a highly competitive market economy. Every day, there's a war waged for our time, our attention and most of all, our hard-earned cash. And in order to gauge or satisfaction, to maintain that precarious grasp on our business, our feedback is constantly solicited:

"Your call is important to us. Please hold and the next available operator attend to your every whim...all the way from somewhere in India."

"How's my driving? Call 1-800-123-4567 and we'll make sure our driver is notified...all the way from somewhere in India."

At home the other day, I'm not sure how, but I noticed that the bottom of the Kleenex box even listed a customer service number and website for consumer grievances. It's comforting to know that I've got an advocate in the absorbent paper product genre.

This critical world we inhabit, where actions and behaviors are scrutinized, dissected and even mocked, has created a highly cynical culture. Satisfaction may be guaranteed, but it's never really attained:

"Excuse me, I asked for the McRib with chipotle sweat and sour, not regular sweet and sour sauce. I hereby demand a complimentary supersize."

"Honey, stop booing the quarterback. He's on our team."
"Hey, I'm entitled to voice my displeasure. This is America."
"Okay, Dear. But he is only ten...and he's your son."

Living within this supercharged critical atmosphere, we all end up on the receiving end from time to time. I could really stand some improvement when it comes to being criticized. In fact, just yesterday, some guy read another of my "top ten" posts. Granted, it wasn't one of my better ramblings, and here's what he said:
"Really? I can't believe I actually wasted time reading this 10 List." 

Did I take the high road and simply brush of a rant from some random ignoramus? Of course I didn't. I replied:
"Thanks for the valuable feedback. Let's see what you've got." 

The maturity, composure and tact arrows have never filled my quiver. I swear, if my skin were any thinner, I'd resemble something served for dim sum. Some anonymous dude slams something I wrote, and I react like he gave me a wedgie which led to bleeding and scarring.

How are some people able to withstand certain jobs—the umpires, the Presidents of the United States, the drive through workers—and stand tall in the face of sheer nastiness and personal insult?

I completely understand why millions of Americans oppose Mr. Obama's progressive agendas and philosophies. I even accept that people are irked by his personal style and demeanor. But come on—displaying his likeness on a huge sign, resembling Hitler or a monkey? That's vaulting over the line from criticism to hatred and vitriol. It contributes nothing to political dialogue or debate, and portrays the demonstrator as nothing but a cretin.

Let's try and check ourselves, just a little bit, next time, and I'll include myself in this reprimand. I'm going to work on not correcting my co-workers mispronunciations (like "sherbert"), not getting irritated when the bus is five minutes late and not getting irked that my Jamba Juice wasn't filled to the top of the cup.

It's going to be very difficult to keep my mouth shut, however, if my wife doesn't improve the way she irons my underwear.

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