Sometimes, it’s an interesting cross-section of people you can discover at the laundromat. Sometimes interesting is the wrong word.
I don’t do laundromats much anymore, because, with three small children, it was one of our earliest goals after we moved to the small town we’re living in to have our own washing machine and dryer again to make sure that we didn’t have to take those three children to the laundromat once a week for several hours. On a weekend, when it’s crowded, and there are other people, too many other people, trying to use the same machines. And, likely as not, there are a couple of other sets of parents in the same boat.
Our dryer, quite unexpectedly, died recently. Washer still fine, but now we need to wash several loads of laundry and make a trip to the laundromat to occupy a few dryers for half an hour or so. We can bring things home and fold them. Less painful overall, but still not exactly the height of convenience, fiscal efficiency, or human interaction.
Not that most people want human interaction at the laundromat, and I certainly don’t want to most places I go. Let me do my laundry and peace, let me shop in peace, let me stop at the convenience store in peace, let me pump my gas in peace.
I will certainly accept that human interaction with the person who’s checking my groceries or ringing up my energy drinks, or whatever, especially if it’s someone I know, or even consider a friend. That changes the equation quite significantly. But social interaction isn’t my primary purpose for any of those things. I went out to get groceries, clothing, do my laundry, get gas, whatever. Going out specifically for social reasons, that’s a whole different ballgame. Yes, there totally needs to be a little bit of conversational lubricant for any transaction, and we all need the ability to make small talk for those, and I get that maybe some people are looking for that social interaction. Generally speaking, I’m not.
Especially at the laundromat.
However, I would have chosen that over this morning to the laundromat. If there had been a little old lady section of the laundromat, I would’ve gone sat in the middle of that group, smiled, and engaged in whatever conversation they insisted on havingwith me.
That section didn’t exist, not today.
I would have gratefully sat in the middle of the section of screaming kids, because I’ve been there and done that, and I feel the pain, and I could smile and be sympathetic with parents.
That section didn’t exist today.
When I got instead was half an hour spent not far enough from an aging dude-bro on his once a month laundry trip to wash everything he owned, taking up some combination of 10 washing machines and 12 dryers simultaneously, while blasting his music, which obviously should be universally admired. I spent my time reflecting on the society that produces those dude-bros and dude-sisters by the tens of thousands, the self-centered piece of each generation that seems to be growing with each generation, who doesn’t particularly care about anyone other themselves. I’m not interested in painting a whole generation with one brush. This particular dude-bro might have been just old enough to technically be Gen-X, and then there’s the Trump factor.
Sure, dude, sing along. It’s all good.
An old saying, one I thought was a cliché, but that we’re apparently losing: your freedom ends where my nose begins.
Of course, I’m too Canadian to have done more than my roll my eyes repeatedly. And too mature, apparently, to have been passive aggressive on my way out the door.
Be well, everyone.by
Hard. Complicated. Difficult to understand. I think a big part of that problem is that every person is different, even if we can consider certain general personality traits that reach across many people.
I think I’m wired differently than most people, although I’m not sure that was always the case. I do think it’s possible to adjust your own mental wiring, to decide there are things you don’t like about yourself or your personality and consciously over time change them.
I grew up in a certain environment in a certain time. Paired with my genetics made some significant impacts and adjustments to how I look at the world, how I perceive people, and how I react to things. But our experiences change us, and if we continue to learn and grow, we will never be the same person from one day to the next. We learn and understand new things and some of those new things change us, and some of those new things we change. More frequently, both, if there other people involved.
But we can consciously make the choice to change how we think and feel about something or someone. Or to not change how we feel. We can decide we don’t like how we react when confronted with a certain circumstance or situation and then we can decide what we think the right reaction should be. After that, it’s just a matter of practice, when confronted by that situation, of stopping our initial reaction and consciously replacing it with what we want that reaction to be. Eventually, given enough repetitions, the reaction we want becomes the preferred one, and probably even slightly more tailored over time.
But is that my wiring or general human trait?
Over the last decade or so, I keep hearing the phrase brain plasticity, about how things can adapt and change inside your brain even deep even old age. About how we can change and learn and grow at any stage in our lives, if we want to.
But not everyone does, and not everyone wants to. You can’t choose the things or situations or people the universe puts in front of you, but you can choose how you react to them. And while self-interest is important, it’s not the only thing. I’m not quite certain how we got to the point culturally where it is the only thing.
I’m angry about a lot of things, all time, culturally and socially. I don’t do as much as I could to change them. I could do more.
Self-interest is important, but it’s not the only thing.
And there are times, and quite a few people, where self-interest crosses over into selfishness.
I like to be the soft and fuzzy guy, the guy who puts things in as positive a light as possible, who sees the best in everyone. Some people make that difficult, but sometimes, there comes a moment, a realization, when you have to cut things short with that person. Some people refuse to be reached, refused to engage in actual conversation. I usually keep trying to engage long past that point. A character flaw, maybe. I do believe that most people are reachable, most people are able to have actual dialogue, even if it seems like an increasing proportion of them don’t want to. That’s a learning process for me. Something that, maybe, I have to alter my reactions to.
I do like to be soft and fuzzy, I do like to find the silver lining in things, I do like to see things and people in the best light possible. But when the person I’m dealing with doesn’t, and walls, and can’t even consider meeting me partway, am I throwing good time after bad?
People are hard, people are complicated. Don’t expect that to change.
Be well, everyone.by
by So World Fantasy Convention, the Toronto 2012 edition, starts on Thursday (ack, the day after tomorrow!), and as I’ve expressed several times, I’m both excited and nervous.
When someone (that’s you, Wendy) talked me off the fence last year, I was nearly at the mental low point of the “my life is far more difficult than I think it needs to be”, and not too far off of when I started shutting off sources of stress and distraction (which ended up being most of the world) to focus my attention on kids and family. I looked at it from a writing career perspective: potential contacts and networking with some awesome panels thrown in.
My writing career, publicly speaking, isn’t really any different than it was a year ago. I haven’t submitted that many stories this year, though I’m working to change that right now, and didn’t send out any last year. But I’m feeling much better about myself and my life these days and I’m making plans for indie publishing and podcasting in a big way. I’m writing every day again, recording some fiction for release into the wild, and plotting out a three year plan for independent publishing of novels and short fiction collections.
But I’m not going to WFC with any networking agenda in mind. People and panels. This is going to be a social/informational convention for me. I’m going for the fun, and I think that’s the way I should have been thinking about it all the way along. I’m going to meet a few people I know only on Twitter and hopefully a bunch of other people, too. I’m going to sit in, and probably record, a whole bunch of panels. I’m going to experience some new food and new places. My hotel is, deliberately, about a 15 minute walk from the convention. It’s a bigger, more comfortable room, and I need to stretch my legs a little since I probably won’t manage anything remotely like the exercise routine I’ve gradually built for myself.
Oh, and panels. There are 21 I want to go to, but surprisingly only 5 conflicts, leaving me with a few tough choices and possibly16 attended. Maybe 16 attended. You see, there are also readings I’d really like to go to, plus the Autograph Reception, the Art show, the Dealer’s room, and a late night open flash fiction reading. It’s going to be a crowded weekend.
But believe it or not, I am a little shy in completely new situations, which this is, being my first literary convention. Someone pull me off the wall, please. I’m pretty friendly after that initial barrier is tossed aside.
Be well, everyone.by