Freed Up

I would like to formally apologize to all you folks who take the time to peruse my ruminations. I have been insufficiently communicating lately.

If you just want to hear the latest, just jump ahead to “The Adventure of the Past Few Days”.

If you’ve kept up with this latest “social medias” trend, you’ll likely notice a prominent type of person who makes most of the internet’s content. These people say enlightening things like:

  • “I had a burger today.”
  • “I have a questin for u guys. Do you think its normal to publicly broadcast my deepest issues to people I dunno personalee?”
  • My child did something normal, but I think it’s proof that mine is better than yours.”
  • “I’d like to harness a little of your guilt today toward giving the birthday present you weren’t going to give me to a 501(c)3 organization.”
  • “I just took the ‘how low is my self-image’ test and I scored Potato.”

This behavior once irked me. I tried to compensate for years on social media by turning my personal feed into a stream of jokes. About half a year ago, Facebook decided that I couldn’t schedule posts and had to log in to their profile to collect data on me improve the user experience. To nobody’s dismay, I moved my time elsewhere.

Moons later, a few of my blog posts on this site offended certain unnamed individuals whom I’ve talked about previously on this blog. To avoid disrespecting my parents, I chose to withhold any further information about them.

Somewhere in the shuffle, I also started developing a profound respect for the concept of narratives. The most abstracted concepts still abide by laws of perspective. I’ve hammered out more information on it here and here, but the simplest way I can say it is that we view the difference between “milk, eggs, and bacon” and “eggs, bacon, and milk” far more than reality.

“With great power comes great responsibility.” We’ve all heard that famous story of a young man swinging across skyscrapers of thought amidst downtown European cities. What Voltaire fails to mention, however, is that with great awareness of power comes great anxiety!

My newfound respect for the power of narrative-crafting drove me to a fearful flushed froth of fretful frantic fervor. Though I’ve obviously been doing it for a while now (see the rest of this site and the Philosopher Accountant page), I had been hitting much more intensely than I’d realized.

This narrative-induced madness made me ineffective for a season. Suffice to say, I didn’t talk much about my personal life beyond confidential matters with my Nummy Gummers. Unfortunately, that’s not my personality. I have believed the water of transparency helps the corpse of truth arise from the murky depths of obfuscated delusion. Stopping the flow of public thought is probably not impacting the world in the slightest, but hurts me to no small end.

Therefore, I’m getting back into expressing my personal life here, starting with the adventure of the past few days.

The Adventure of the Past Few Days

I drive a truck. It pays the bills to help stave off my family’s inevitable decay that leads to death which will encompass us all. Optimism aside, truck driving is a great job when things go well.

However, when things go poorly, you could say that things rhyme with “cat atrophy”. A late shuttle to transfer freight will force the facility’s drivers to wait five hours and still complete their route around midnight. A truck breakdown in a low cell reception area could mean a half-mile walk to a nearby building to use a phone. Traffic jams could throw a driver out of regulation for hours of service driven.

In the mix of the industry’s inherent chaos, I was driving down a country highway interchange when I hit a patch of black ice. By God’s grace, I traveled off the road by two or three truck-lengths in a straight line without hitting anyone or damaging anything.

You might think this story is about my engagement with first-responders to prevent tangling my company up with the DOT, or maybe it’s about my ability to stay low-stress in a near-survival situation as I waited to get rescued or my fuel to run out. This isn’t one of those stories.

That story was the setup for today’s story, where I was in a safety meeting across Skype with my boss’s boss, my safety manager’s boss, some other guy probably with “Chief” or “Vice” at the beginning of his job title, and my boss sitting next to me.

In a nutshell, they labeled the meeting as “an opportunity to find out what happened and see if we can learn from it”. In reality, it became a nitpicking session to discover what I had done to justify the event as a “preventable incident”.

I’m one to admit when I’m wrong, but only on the grounds of this thing called “truth”. The data affirmed that the only difference in my speed regulation would have made me go off-road by one truck-length instead. I had been doing everything right.

I affirmed to them that if they labeled the event preventable or avoidable or circumnavigable or “not the company’s fault because it was totally the driver’s”, I’d walk.

Let’s talk about blame versus fault for a minute. Blame is the narrative that someone should take responsibility for something. Fault is a scientifically provable statement of factual failure. Someone will feel shame when they internalize blame, but everyone should discuss fault. In fact, most psychotherapy is discovering fault and reconciling its injustices.

Blame is a waste of time. People will argue and scream at each other to assign blame. Most of the time, however, the true fault lies in realms beyond the blamed parties.

I don’t care to get political about this healthcare issue we have, but the issues we’re seeing aren’t technically the fault of any president of the 21st century. Logically, one of the past two had to have made it worse, but this was a problem in the 70’s and 80’s, so start by faulting Carter/Reagan first.

If you want to get anywhere with anyone, shut down any talk about blame and start talking exclusively about fault. Declaring blame is the best way to never get to the bottom of something. For example, my schedule has now been freed up tremendously because of my unwillingness to work under the charge of individuals who confuse my name as “George” instead of “Greg” while they tell me I’m a bad boy.

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Dress Shopping

Buying a wedding dress has a lot of tradition tied to the experience. The traditional one involves mothers, mother-in-laws-to-be, sisters, sisters-to-be, cousins, cousins-to-be and best friends gathering around the bride to see what she chooses for her gown. They comment on it, give their own input, and add to the process. This whole experience can take weeks.

My experience, however, turned out to be nothing close to traditional.

Originally I thought that the only way a bride goes about getting a dress is to look up and visit every bridal store within the nearest 200 miles. I had no intention of doing this for a dress I was only going to wear once.

It suddenly dawned on me that I don’t actually have to. I don’t have to go to the “bridal” stores to find my wedding dress. I realized that if I wanted to I could simply go to a thrift store, buy a gown and tailor it to my preference or I could just plain order it online!

One day after realizing this, Greg and I were out shopping. I saw a fashion store I had always wanted to check out. You ladies know this kind of store: it’s one of those fun bargain fashion stores where their return policy is store credit if they even do returns. Any woman who cares about what she wears and also cares about not being poor is all over those stores like hummingbirds to sugar water!

Much to my glee and excitement, I saw the dress I wanted as we drove by. We stopped, and after I had repeatedly assured Greg that this wouldn’t take long I tried on the dress.

In spite of the size being slightly more snug than I’m comfortable with, the dress was everything I wanted, even though I may alter it with a slight 1950’s flair. Not to mention, I paid less than $50 for it!

Unfortunately, this was the start of another problem I hadn’t anticipated. I was talking with a single friend (And available! Ask for details!) a month later and she had asked if I’d found a dress yet. I told her I had found one and that Greg had been with me. She was surprised when I told her that Greg had seen the dress I chose.

I’ve never been superstitious, and I don’t think that it is bad luck for the groom to see the dress before the wedding ceremony. My friend was clearly expecting that I had gone the more traditional route and had at least one girlfriend involved in my shopping experience.

After the discussion with her I started wondering if I should have done that instead. After all, isn’t that the right thing to do? Why would I ever go shopping by myself when I can bring along a friend, especially for something so important?

After thinking about it for a few weeks, I mentioned it to one of my other married friends. As it turned out, she had purchased her dress at a thrift store as well, all by herself! The dress she bought was exactly what she wanted and she made the necessary alterations for it on her own.

From her I found out something liberating, though a bit obvious. Whatever works best for one bride is good for one bride, but each bride should do whatever works best for her. For me, finding a dress at a regular fashion store and then playing with ideas to alter it worked best. It’s better to be happy with the opportunities given than unhappy with the limitations that are far more common.