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Where I have a little giggle at human nature

by John on February 9th, 2015

I love the way that we, as humans, feel the need to come up with back-stories for those we run across in our lives. When a person walks past me with a scowl on their face? I immediately start thinking what might have caused said scowl, and who might be responsible for the person’s bad mood, and what they did . . . it might be just a few seconds, but I’m, basically, incapable of seeing someone without coming up with some amount of backstory for them.

And while I’m far from a secretive person, I don’t exactly share each & every aspect of my life with each & every person I encounter. At work, I’ll gladly talk about anything — but non-work-related topics really only ever come up if someone broaches the subject with me. As such, people who work in close proximity to me know a bit about my running and music. They know a lot about my kids – but, really, that’s about it. And the people who work in the same building, but seldom with me, well, they just know there’s this tall guy who walks through the aisles.

Just now, in the office kitchen, a coworker sneezed around me & apologized. Now, it’s not like she sneezed in my face or anything — she just sneezed around me. I mentioned that there was no need to apologize & she just looked all confused. “Hmm, I thought you were a germophobe” she responded.

Now, I am far from being a germophobe. In fact, if there’s an opposite of germophobe, that’s me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking to ever get sick — but, well, germs are a part of life. I think some exposure to them actually helps to keep you from avoiding them in the long run.

So, naturally, I had to follow up. She mentioned that I just seemed like such a neat freak, because she sees me do dishes every day in the office kitchen sink.

This made me, truly, laugh out loud.

I don’t think anyone who knows me can ever say that I’m a neat freak.

But, yes, I do wash dishes in the office kitchen sink every day.

See, because I’m an exceedingly cheap bastard because I like to ensure that I’m following my own eating plan, I bring in my lunch every day. Because I like to eat with reckless abandon try to eat enough food to ensure that, when I get home, I’m not “hangry”, my lunch typically consists of several individual containers (e.g., today, there was a small glass jar for my morning Greek yogurt, then for lunch I’ll have pulled chicken in a mason jar, sauerkraut and broccoli in Tupperware containers). My big fear is that something “comes up1 and when I next head into my truck, I find it missing from my driveway, having been driven away by a creature evolved from tiny scraps of chicken & sauerkraut particles, left alone without proper sanitation. Basically, I wash my dishes at the office kitchen sink in order to prevent a worse mess for the inevitable time that I leave my dishes, unwashed, for a significant period of time. And it helps provides me with a “non-work task” as I pack up for the day, allowing me to better “mentally break” work and home, which has, historically, been issue for me.

So, while I’d call myself a hoarder if I didn’t have a problem throwing stuff away (I’m not, honestly. I’m just too damn lazy to look through a pile of stuff to see if there’s anything that I know I’ll need in the future and/or is valuable enough to try to sell on eBay . . . nevermind actually listing an item to sell on eBay), I’m barely a step above a slob (though I’m trying to get better about this). And, because of that need for people to fill in the gaps of people they see in the periphery, well, some people see me as a neat freak. Funny, huh?

1 I, in my eagerness to be home, leave my lunch containers, in my lunch bag2 in my truck. I’ll get sick, the kids will get sick, some weather situation will materialize, and/or the weekend will hit and I’ll spend several days without ever even approaching my truck.

my desk

  1. That is hilarious.
    Also, I need to update your desk pictures.

    • I think I need to design an iPad app, get a first generation iPad, and set it up as a digital display.

  2. Oh my gosh. I have so much to say about this. First off, when I was growing up my grandmother had this hilarious thing where she would fill in the back stories on people we would see. And she would do it in all seriousness like it was straight up the facts. For example, if we were driving down the road and we drove by an old man going down the sidewalk on his motorized scooter she would say something like “Oh poor Papa. There he is having to go up to Walgreens by himself to get his blood pressure medicine. His kids don’t call or stop by to see what he needs. His poor wife died last year and now he is all alone . So sad” That is a real example. The one I primarily remember the most bc it was SO detailed that I still to this day remember being like 15 years old and asking my grandmother if she knew the guy!! She was like “no”. This was just what she did! It got to be a running joke between me and my Mom. We’d see someone in passing and be like “Oh poor Jane. Her husband left her last year and now she has to go to dinner by herself. Her date stood her up and now she’s going to rent a movie”. hahaha This was just a fun game we played after that. Now I totally get the whole thing with having impressions of people we don’t even know. Once I worked for this principal who had a habit of bringing issues to weekly meetings without specifying who her issue was with. All the teachers would show up at the meeting and she would be like “Ok…”someone” is not doing this or that….so please be on top of that”. We had no idea who she was calling out bc her style was just to be vague. Unfortunately I’m super paranoid so even if I know it’s not me….I’m 100% convinced it’s me. So one day I had a private meeting with her where I was like “LOOK…if you have an issue with me you need to tell me straight out bc I can’t take these meetings anymore” She laughed bc she said she had never once had a problem with me but that she didn’t like confrontation so that is how she dealt with it. We always just assume things about people I guess. Well this comment turned into a novel but I just totally related to this. Also I found it kind of funny that your co-workers think you are just a tall guy who walks through the aisles!! I would never think that bc your blog is pretty open . Then again I’m a very private person in real life and open on my blog! Also as a side note I have to say I totally love that you use footnotes in your blog. As a teacher, bookworm and librarian’s daughter I smile every time I see the footnotes. I’ve never known anyone else to do it and I totally LOVE it!

    • My wife’s grandfather owned a restaurant and had a routine to make those who came in feel that he knew them . . . he didn’t, he barely remembered his own name, but most any regular patron felt “well-known” at the restaurant because of these silly little tricks that, while he employed them with most everyone who frequented his establishment, none of his regulars realized.

      And I do the same with thinking that every complaint is about me . . . I wish I knew why. Just the other day, I saw a complaint about “string behavior during the dress rehearsal” from a symphony board member. It went on to complain about a LOT of stuff — all of which I assumed was specific to me (but left anonymous because, well, I’m on the board) . . . only when I read a bit about “not standing when the conductor came in” did I realize that I was applying the complaints incorrectly . . . I stand the entire time. Then I realized that the person complaining never actually can see me. So yeah.

      As far as the footnotes, I totally have to give credit to Dave Barry for them.

  3. That is hilarious. The main reason to wash (or rinse in my case) is because I forget to take them out of my back and then the horrible consequence is the stench of whatever I happened to eat that day is the top explodes as I try to pry it open to pop it in the washer.

    Also? My back story is way not true because I work at a state office with a bunch of bitter old women. So yeah. Fun times.They like to have imaginations that often don’t match up with reality.

    But I totally like to make up stories.

    • So you’ll get a kick out of this . . . I used to work in a different office, and there was a cute woman who worked between my desk and the bathroom. So I’d see her every now & then. I was, at the time, far from in-shape. Fast forward to now, and this woman now works between my desk and the kitchen . . . so I run into quite commonly, especially around lunch. A little before Christmas, she went from being among the healthiest eaters I had ever seen to starting to snack all of the time. Then she started drinking sodas. We get back from Christmas and it’s obvious that she had put on weight . . . and I started telling myself “she must be pregnant” but, being a guy, wasn’t about to actually make that qualification.

      Well, it turns out that she’s pregnant with twins . . . the excess food? Just what she needs to keep from passing out during the day.

      And yeah, what I do with my dishes if little more than rinsing them out . . . just to ensure that they don’t have tiny bits of food stuck to them that will blast me with odors when they get left behind somewhere . . . I actually wash them, thoroughly, the next morning, as I prepare my lunch for the day.

  4. Laura permalink

    I don’t think I’ve ever done back-stories, but it sounds like a fun idea. And, I admit, I gasped when I read that someone thought you were a neat freak. That really is funny. I live with a neat freak, and honey, you are not a neat freak! That being said, I’m glad you’ve adopted the habit of washing out your lunch dishes. As a youth I was a slob, but am now relatively tidy. Anyway, what I’ve learned is that the little habits build up; make the bed as soon as you get up–it’s a great way to start the day with a little accomplishment. Wash out your lunch dishes, hang the towels neatly on the rack after you shower, put the soiled clothes in the hamper, put the dirty glass in the dishwasher…start a new habit every month. Gee John, maybe someday you will be a neat freak! 🙂

    • Oh Aunt Laura – to say that I have no intention of being a neat-freak is an understatement. Simply, I’d just like to be a bit more organized . . . if I could spend half the time that I currently spend, trying to find things, I’d be happy.

      Making the bed as soon as I get up . . . with the little ones, that just won’t work. Almost every night, both children end up in the master bed with us. Most of those mornings, need to dress the kids as they lie in bed because the kids need to wear clothes, and I can’t wait for them to get up on their own. Though, if I’m truthful, I don’t know that I’ve ever regularly made my bed since high school. I am MUCH better about ensuring that my clean clothes are put away — though, in this brutal cold, I’m finding that I keep a pile of sweatshirts about — always “mostly clean” in that I’ve worn them over t-shirts and haven’t sweat or spilled clothing on them.

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