What hapless Taco Time laggard had given him the wrong freaking sauce? What were they, deaf? He had specifically ordered the chunky southwestern chipotle, not the tangy chipotle southwestern. Cretins.
He stabbed a straw into his diet cherry Coke Zero and pulled a hearty slurp. Too much goddamn carbonation again! Manfred's blood churned with that unique brand of fury he reserved for the grossly inept.
"First World Problem." It's a maxim that until just recently hadn't cemented itself into our vernacular. Yet unlike its graceless cousins "hangry" and "yaaas," who also surfaced at this year's Oxford Dictionary induction ceremony, we're talking about a term that cuts to the chase.
No other phrase both captures and frames an issue quite like First World Problem does. You may prefer a different expression, perhaps "Uptown Downer" or "White Whine," but whatever your preferred pseudonym, it's any obstacle or complication that can only arise while living in a developed and prosperous society.
How do you fare when it comes to keeping yourself in check? Is there some type of perspective meter embedded in your superego that facilitates the identification of champagne problems, thus stifling any douchebaggery before it escapes your mouth?
I had thought I was covered, that is until I devoted about thirty seconds to considering the stuff that irritates me on a regular basis. Following that, let's just say I'm not crowing the cluck of the conscientious cock I'd once considered myself. Here's what's taken place just in the past week:
1) Near my cubicle at work is a door that leads to the stairwell. If someone wants to use the stairs to enter from another floor, they must swipe their keycard to re-gain entry. Simple enough, yes? Well, after the card beeps the light green, people aren't waiting to hear the door unlatch which leads to technical failure. Imagine someone trying to jerk open a locked door, over and over again, with lots of beeping in between. Causes a bit of chafe to my sweetbreads, it does.
About a year ago, my co-worker posted a sign next to the door explaining the issue and how to solve it. This hasn't helped, as ten to twenty times a day I'm serenaded with a seven-second door throttling by some of my favorite folks. It's like when someone cuts you off in traffic, you recognize who it is and you feel bad about so recently desiring to torture them with hot mustard and pea gravel. I must rise above it.
2) Last holiday season (the back-to-back Valentine's Day/Presidents Day weekend), our home Internet decided to take some well-deserved time off. Apparently, some sort of mysterious yet wide-spread Century Link glitch rendered the green modem globe red for over 72 hours. As a family whose 15-year-old daughter uses 75% of our cellular data, our modem coma posed the very real threat of book reading, board-game-playing or even prolonged verbal conversation. As fate would have it, we'd serendipitously booked two days and a night at a VRBO with all the wi-fi we could eat. Too close for comfort, that one.
3) Lastly, this happened:
When I woke up the other morning, it looked like Pizza Hut had decided to sponsor my left eyelid and stuffed it with delicious cheese. It wasn't goopy and itchy like pink eye so I decided to take my chances and go to work.
Granted, a swollen eye can occur in any culture or socio-economic class, so that wasn't the problem. My dilemma arose when trying to decide how to best deal with this fleshy eye Nerf. I could call my doctor, who's only a couple of blocks away and can always fit me in for some acute eye shit. Alternatively, I could search for a sweet eye patch at Rite Aid. Or lastly, I could Popeye may way through the workday and present it to my acupuncturist that evening. Definitely a dilemma for the ages.
The swelling receded by midday, rendering my well-considered decision moot. The eye patch must live another day.
First World Problems aren't going anywhere, but we can choose how to process them. Maybe next time that guy squeezes into a crowded elevator to go down a single floor, I won't fantasize about flicking him in the back of the head while saying "Really?" to the uproarious approval of my 'vator mates.
Yes, I must transcend—flat tires, dead phone batteries, a rain-soaked UPS box on the porch—none of it matters one eyelash, and I think 53 years has been long enough to figure this out. Still, a single First World Problem remains that I can't shake, one that may linger until its resounding eradication the first Tuesday this coming November.
Trust me, it'll be huge.