Monday, February 1, 2010

people observation #1: complaining is our favorite pastime.

Complaining is a sad invention, but we do it all the time, and I didn't notice how much people complain until I came to college and moved in next to the most complaining female of mankind.

Our paper-thin dorm room walls leave no room for privacy, and much room for the ability to hear every single pain and imperfection in the hermit that I call my next door neighbor's life.

At the beginning of the year it was that she couldn't understand her math teacher *insert ridiculously racist stab at accent here* and was going to drop the class.
The next week, she was beginning what was to be the daily cellular argument with her significant other, who I hypothesize just mutes her from the other line until the "I don't need this fucking drama" ends. In the bathroom, its always a complaint, "The weather sucks today, I lost my phone, My favorite show got cancelled for the freaking Presidential Address, fml, fml, fml, wah."

Then, I came to the obvious realization that people in general are very very whiny. It makes sense, I understand the conversation starter, at a coffee shop, "Jease, If I wasn't so addicted to coffee, I wouldnt have to wait in this ridiculous line" or "Where is the sun? It's raining cats and dogs out there and I'm drenched!" Understandable. In class, "I'd rather be listening to Nickelback than this damn professor." or "I got a 56% on the exam last week, and my mom's gonna foam at the mouth when she finds out." Makes sense. We always need a reason to socialize with those around us; it would be awkward to stand in line, make eye contact with that total stranger, and not say anything, right? The reason we complain: Empathy. It gives us a way to be able to connect with the people around us. For example, yeah it's raining outside for these people too, there's something you two have in common. I understand, however, imagine if we gave positive comments in these situations instead of the negative attitudes.

The other day I was getting a chipotle burrito. You know the drill: Wait in long line, get up to the front as a dude in a chipotle tshirt steams your tortilla only to get very upset when you explain you would like your barbacoa meat in a bowl instead, God forbid. I gotta say, although burrito means "little donkey" in Spanish, my server that day was a huge ass. Noticing their frown, and negative attitude towards their world (which was clearly out to get them) I asked them how they were doing as they globbed hundred of calories of sour cream and cheese into my dish. I am not kidding, it was as if the world stopped. I swear, every chef in the back dropped their grease covered spatulas. Every Chipotle team member up front dropped what they were doing. Even the managers were confused. How dare this person try to interrupt our day of pessimistic venom! My server looked up, "What?," she said. And I asked her again, "How are you doing?" She smiled! She explained that she was doing pretty good. She thanked me for asking. I could have said, "Gosh its the weekend and you're working right now, sucks to be you!" but instead I asked her how she was doing and at least lifted her spirits for the few seconds I spent with her.

My point is that an attitude is nothing anyone ever wants to deal with. When we complain about our crap, it just makes us all look more self-centered. Here's the thing: stuff happens that we can't control. Stuff happens that we have absolutely zero control over. Charles R. Swindoll said that life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. God, was he right. The truth is, we could throw a fit in the airport because the record-breaking hurricane across the country has delayed our flight or we could spend that time thinking of solutions to the situation or looking on the bright side. We could spend twenty minutes yelling at the waiter for the undercooked steak that SOMEONE ELSE, the chef in the back, cooked, or we could do something about it.

Someday, perhaps, I will work up the courage to ask my next door neighbor what she exactly did for the world to always be out to get her, or maybe I will get some sort of strength to explain to her that there are almost seven billion people in this world, and that it was not made to fit her needs. As for now, however, I am just going to smile and set an example of someone who can spread the love. Instead of being pissed off at the world all the time for the little things that we can't control we can realize that here comes the sun, little darlin, and for goodness sakes, it's alright.


  1. Very true! Sometimes it's fun too be nice to crabby people just to see what happens.