Saturday, October 12, 2019


One of the common refrains upon the election, such as it was, of Donald Trump to the Presidency was "This is not normal!" And with that phrase came the admonition "Don't accept it as normal!" But something about our brains is not right. Maybe it was a once upon a time evolutionary advantage and the only way to get us spreading out of our cozy African homes was to have us react to insane things like snow with furious outrage, lost toes, and long, miserable nights huddled together trying to stay alive raging against the gods, all followed by ice cream.

Yum! All is forgotten!

Whatever it is, human beings make everything normal, whether that thing be dessert or a sudden fad for systematically killing off 20 percent of all our neighbors. Or, let's be realistic here, having 80 percent of our neighbors kill us off. We're definitely a 20 percent crowd here.

Now as a member of the 20 percent crowd I like to politely excuse myself from the table as I cast dark assessments on the human race. Not only have I refused to allow for the normality of the Republican Party and Donald Trump, I believe that if you don't express some clear, true rage at the deep injustices of your Country you will one day cease to be allowed to do so. This is advice The New York Times would do well to heed. And I'm sure they would, if only everything weren't so... normal. Normal, normal, normal, normal, too late.

But for all my begging off, there comes a time when I see I am, alas, made of the same sort of stuff as everyone else. While there are big crazy people out in the world ruining many lives, down here at the library I work with my share of little versions of the same, the little crazy people who maybe just ruin an hour or 15 minutes of your or my life. These people might lazily misshelve a book so you can't find it. They might tell you to call someone else to solve a problem they could and should take care of in five seconds, causing me to have to do it instead, later and extending the length and complexity of your chore. They might mysteriously turn your five minute library card registration into a 15 minute process. They might just tell you the wrong information because it never occurs to them that getting it right might be important. I know the people who do these things, or most of them. And I am ever shocked and horrified when I come upon the evidence of their disturbed actions.

But I also have to work with these people. I don't have the power to fire them. I'm no good at being personally mad at people all the time. And so as soon as they're doing some simple thing normally, like changing a bin, putting a book on a cart, telling a patron where the bathroom is, or saying hi to me, I set all the madness and incompetence aside. In a short time I even start to question my extremely low regard for them. There are too many incidents of rotten behavior to remember any particular ones clearly, but not enough for there to always be one that just happened. So maybe I'm overstating their incompetence. Surely a person who walks around speaking and looking fairly normally couldn't peel off the last tape from a roll and just... leave the cob empty, or lie to a patron they're supposed to help. Surely I made too much of it all. Everything is just so... normal.

And then I am working on the automated check in machine while one of these colleagues is 20 feet away on the phone. My lovely wife calls. I sure would like to talk to my wife! She asks for me! My co-worker says "He's on automation right now. Can I take a message?"

My wife, well acquainted with the spatial and work dynamics of the backroom is appropriately confused, and she says so. 

My co-worker relents. She puts my wife on hold and travels the six feet necessary to not have to raise her voice, and tells me I have a call.

The same mad things happening in the big politic happen down in the little one. I'm sure 40 percent of my co-workers think this particular terrible co-worker is perfectly fine. And who among us would countenance impeaching her? Everything is fine here. Everything is fine here. Everything is fine here. And so I submit my report to you. I'm the fucking New York Times.

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