I am not alone

In the side quest I have of changing the world, I have always believed that blogs are probably the best tool. I know my life has been enriched greatly by having a blog. I met my wife, some of my closest friends all over the country and it even helps me stay connected with some of my friends from back in college. Now, what if we applied the power of blogging to a great cause.

I know what you guys most be thinking, Logtar is going to ask us to either sacrifice our beer budget to satisfy his suburban guilt. Not true at all :) this one requires no money, little effort and a huge payback.

I have been writing about manners and respect the years I have been blogging. I think our world would be a better place if we all became just a little nicer. Most people think this is just cult speak, but I really think that making subtle changes can change the world.

Some people think that good manners talk does not go beyond using proper words for things, or what fork to eat the salad with. I think civility goes beyond that, and it is time to give it a try.

Listening to the radio I heard about the civility movement. I was going to post about it, but Bob Sutton did a great job already so go read about it there. It is being proven in a little microcosm how a community can change itself.

I admit that most of the local bloggers I have met are already pretty decent people. I also understand that some blogs, including mine, are outlets and frustration spills over all the time. I am not asking you to change your blog, just asking you to consider some of the changes the whole movement is about.

The changes are all about boundaries and self restrain. One of the big points made about our society is that we have become so self esteem driven, that some people have become self absorbed. While being happy while not hurting others is a good base, trying to be a little nicer is not something that we should be scared to be reminded about.

The movement started with a book by P. M. Forni that I will have to pick up and read. Some of the rules of civility that are outlined in his book and I think I can already start working on are the following.

* Give Constructive Criticism
* Refrain from Idle Complaints
* Respect Others’ Opinions
* Don’t Shift Responsibility and Blame
* Care for Your Guests
* Accept and Give Praise

Wrong place to converse

I dislike public bathrooms. I think they are filthy, and no matter how many studies tell me that the door handles actually have more germs, I still would feel better if I had a bottle of lysol every time I had to sit on one of them.

As males, we can pee standing up which is a total perk to holding the man card. However, there is a negative there. Most urinals are positioned either way to close or without dividers. I have no interest on glancing at someone else’s junk or them checking mine. I have enough with Chimpotle already commenting on my Prince Albert.

So as you guys heard, the company I work for has new digs. I will put more pictures when I actually get some stuff on the walls. It is the first time I officially have my own office with a window. The first week has already made all the back pain from moving totally worth it.

There is a huge drawback between this building and the one we used to work out of… we have to share a bathroom with the whole floor.

At the old building we had 3 bathrooms. There was two public ones with stalls, and one that was a private unisex. The stalls were ample and since we there was only about 15 people at the office, there were tons of chances for privacy.

At the new building we have on public bathroom and the urinals are so close that if there were no dividers you would probably be shoulder to shoulder with the guy next to you. Granted, I have taken a leak at ballgames where there is just a communal urinal and everyone just kind of looks up. The second drawback to this bathroom is that the people are dirty. I can completely blame the other tenants because at our last place the bathroom was pretty clean.

The above are things that I can completely ignore for now and eventually get used to. However, I have been attacked by a bathroom chatter twice now. It bothers me a little that we are in a piss schedule already, maybe he is a coffee drinker also… but twice now I have started to let my stream go and lo and behold the stall invader shows up.

The first conversation was permissible. Hey, are you from the guys that just moved in or from the other tenant? I am guessing that on the other half of the floor that we did not monopolize there are going to be 3 different companies. I responded in as many monosyllables as I could and figured the next time I saw the guy would be in the elevator or a hallway.

No such luck. The very next day the same guy starts another conversation with me. I am not pee shy, I can continue my business while the guy is trying to establish acquaintance status with me, but I am starting just get a little uncomfortable. I could use one of the private stalls, but I feel that the urinals have to be used if they are available.

I am seriously dreading my third encounter with the bathroom conversationalist. Anyone have a message for him? any idea of what can give him the subtle hint that I do not like to get to know other guys while manning the fire hose?

The Moving Crew

I had some interesting experiences last week. I was swamped with work and getting ready to move buildings. While some of the people that work in our corporate office had already experienced what it takes to do a “move,” it was my first time. I was a little sore from it, but not as much as I thought I was going to be. My back has been bothering me, but just to the uncomfortable point… not quite painful yet.

Before the move started, I had a funny moment with someone not recognizing me because I was wearing different clothes. Maybe some of you don’t even know, but I have had my ear pierced since my late teens and a tattoo since my early twenties.

During the work week I take my earring off not because it is required at work, but because I like to be presentable. Even though I don’t ever get to see clients where I work now, it is still something I think is part of looking professional. I also don’t wear short sleeved shirts, so my tattoo never shows.

The week before the move I stopped at one of the local computer shops. They have great deals and I picked up a monitor for my wife. She needed something a little better than what she had. She has also been asking about a mac and we cannot afford a mac book pro just yet, but I asked if they had any old used computers that we could start playing with. The guy told me that they in fact did have some, but they needed to be looked at first. I gave him my cell number and he said he would call me as soon as he had something.

The next day at lunch my phone rang. When I did not recognize the number I figured it was work related, so I answered right away. I normally dislike answering the phone while at a restaurant, but if it is something important I will pick it up. It was the guy telling me they had a G4 that I could come and pick up. The wife and I headed there after our meal and then hilarity ensued.

I had walked into the store the time before with just a polo and jeans, but I did not have my earring on. The second time I had a black t-shirt on and my earring, and just that made the guy not recognize me at all. We had just spoken the day before, in fact I have bought plenty of things from this guy over the last year… but just having an earring on and a black shirt transformed somehow to the point that he was not responding. I said, “I am here to pick up the mac you are holding for me.” I remind you at this point that this is probably 30 minutes after his call. He said, “I am not holding anything for you, what are you talking about?” My wife looked at me and kind of smiled and I said to him, “dude I just bought a monitor from you just a day ago, you called me minutes ago…” He blinked a couple of times and said, wow, I did not recognize you at all. We had a good laugh and started talking about tattoos, I am looking for a place to get my next one.

So what does that have to do with moving? Well, it is not often that the office geeks are the same as the movers that get all the boxes inside of a brand new suite at a building. The whole week people would not even make eye contact when we were moving stuff. It could be that we were all dirty and sweaty, but I seriously think it was because they probably figured they would not see us ever again.

They will get a rude awakening this week when those same sweaty guys start showing up in nicer clothes every day. Makes you wonder how many people just ignore or change their attitude towards people just because of the way they are dressed. This is specially hilarious, because the CEO of the company was one of those sweaty guys bringing stuff in.

Tired Friday Feast

Appetizer
What is the nearest big city to your home?
Kansas City… and then after that Chicago.

Soup
On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how well do you keep secrets?
I think I am about a 9… I used to be a 10, but I share pretty much everything with my wife. I however do keep the things that my friends tell me in confidence to myself.

Salad
Describe your hair (color, texture, length).
Short on the sides, getting longer on top… brown even though I do think I saw a white hair.

Main Course
What kind of driver are you? Courteous? Aggressive? Slow?
Slowing down with age, try to be courteous… cannot afford to be aggressive anymore, I got too many tickets during my young age.

Dessert
When was the last time you had a really bad week?
Last week was pretty bad, but the worse was the one before that. We had about 6 things go really, really wrong at work… with phone lines being cut, hard drive failures, power outages… you name it, it happened that week.

Ambushed by religion

Even though my wife lived in Canada for 8 years and got a little taste of North America, she is still getting used to the things that are very different here in the U.S. Even though Kansas City is much more slower paced that Chicago, it is still an American city and it moves at a good pace. When she is surprised by something here it makes us both laugh and reminds us how cool it is to have a similar background, a similar understanding of life. Actually we spend quite a bit of time laughing, from our little inside jokes to just getting each other’s sense of humor we spend quite a bit of time chuckling.

Religion is one of the things we have in common, and funny enough we ventured outside of the Catholic faith during our younger years. I think I did a little more venturing than her, but we both agree that we like going to mass and get something out of it. We don’t have a policy in religion for our friends and respect their beliefs or atheism. We are actually quite open to discussing the subject and explain what is the whole deal with the Virgin Mary or Rosaries or whatever it is that people from other faiths just don’t get. However we do not evangelize or try to convert people with words and arguments.

This week my wife was ambushed by religion. On this particular denomination I happen to have a lot more knowledge because someone in my family is a Jehova’s witness… I think this was the first time she encountered the no birthday policy they have. She asked a coworker if she wanted to sign a birthday card and was met by a very short “We don’t celebrate birthdays.” from a person she likes and appreciates already.

That right there is my problem with some institutions. The moment where you have to take a “we” stand… the moment where you stop being yourself and become just a piece of the big puzzle. Then when an unsuspecting person approaches you and touches the “I have been told I cannot do that” button, they are met with an uncharacteristic programmed response.

Some of the closest friends I made during my time in Michigan were from a very fundamentalist church. This was my second time trying a very strict protestant church. I respected most of their beliefs and helped out quite a bit around the church. I hanged out with them all the time and they became my support structure. It all ended when I refused to believe that they had a prophet that actually knew when rapture was going to happen.

I have seen this tactic before first hand and both times it involved money. The more you gave and sacrificed, the more “grace” you were going to receive. Furthermore, if things were not going well in your life, you were not giving enough. It was run like a business and they were selling salvation and in some extreme cases healing. The preacher would drive around on a brand new jag and had a brand new Harley while everyone else in the congregation could barely afford the Sunday clothes.

Like the time before when I had been ambushed by religion, they had a sit down with me telling me that I either believed what they said without challenge or I could not attend church anymore. In one conversation with someone I though was my friend my support structure was completely removed. I was very close with a couple that attended the church and we kept contact after the whole incident, but it was very clear that hanging around with me was going to cause them problem so I am waiting until the time where the world was supposed to end to give them a call. Actually it might have already passed so maybe I should call them to see if now that the prophet failed to predict everyone’s demise we are allowed to hang out… maybe there was an extension to get every last cent from their pockets.

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