You know the situation. You're in a room or walking with somebody you don't know too well and to be polite or break the silent awkwardness, one of you says something. It usually goes something like, "How was the traffic?" or "It's a nice day isn't it?" or "How about the (insert sports team here)?" Both people know the asker doesn't really care what the other person has to say in response, but it doesn't matter. Somebody has to do something. Somebody has to start the small talk. It's annoying, but we all oblige like zombies.
Small talk can get even worse once you get to know somebody better but not to the point that the person is your friend. That's when comments like, "Staying out of trouble?" get spoken. Since I work in marketing, I hear these comments way more often than I would like to, but I just grin and bear it. What bothers me more is that the chuckles and laughter in response to cliché comments seem to be consistently high. (This is especially true when the person speaking has the highest position in the room). The others in the room act like the joke is fresh and unexpected even though they have heard the joke many times before.
I've tried to talk about different small talk topics using my unusual sense of humor, but that doesn't work very often. It throws people out of their comfort zone. Sometimes the other person doesn't get my joke, or just doesn't think it's even half as funny as I do.
So I understand why people use small talk. It is an annoying necessity, but if you're going to do it, at least throw some twists of originality in it. It can't be sincere if it's repeated the exact same way with every person. That's like getting a form letter email addressed only to you but sent to thirty others. Until we demand more in the way of small talk by not reacting so positively to the stalest of small talk, it's never going to change. Small talk will remain small in its contribution to making our work days less bland.
This post may be more useful for guys, but it's hopefully entertaining and informative for women. Going to the bathroom in public bathrooms for a guy can be an uncomfortable situation. I should know; I've done it before. But the rules of the game in there aren't known. The only thing I know for sure is to not dispose of syringes the trash there.
Entering the bathroom when nobody is there puts you at ease. It's like going to the john in your own home with just as much freedom, but a bigger room. Sometimes they're smelly, sometimes they're nice but as guys, we can usually deal with that since most of the time we use the facilities while standing up. However, walking into a bathroom with somebody in it presents all kinds of choices. Should you say hello if you know the guy or don't? Should you ignore him, (especially if you have to go No. 2)? It's up to the individual, but the one part that's really tricky is talking to a guy you know at the urinal if he's at the urinal next to you. Would you be rude not to say hello? Should you just go into the stall and shut the door hoping he doesn't know who just walked in? It's hard to know. Now if there are multiple urinals and other guys are at them, it can be a difficult choice to know which one to choose. It's best to choose one that's at least two spots away, but not all the way at the other end if it's more than two away. That would make you antisocial and not manly. They may think you have something to be ashamed of. To choose the stall next to a guy when others are available would have the guy question your sexuality. And looking over to see what the other person has is totally not cool, but I get the feeling that it does happen sometimes. I'm not even sure if farting while in the bathroom is OK. This is no time for curiosity to get the best of you. Talking on the phone while in the bathroom just seems wrong to me so I've defined that rule for myself. I've even heard of a guy dropping his BlackBerry in the toilet. That has to be embarrassing and fishing it out cannot be pleasant. Making the toilet stuck is not so much fun either. You just hope you can pull up on the handle to stop it or that it doesn't overflow on its own.
Going "Number 2", presents a whole other set of issues. You generally don't want others to know how long you're in the stall, so sneaking in is a good idea. Is reading in there OK? Then when you're in there, even though most of the time you're anonymous, making unpleasant noises or excessively nasty smells just seems wrong. It's natural but it's still not acceptable for some reason. And then when you're done, you have to do "the walk of shame" since you're the guy responsible for the smell and noises. What can also happen is that you are in the bathroom after the guilty party leaves and the next guy assumes you made the smells. Not fair, but part of life.
Washing hands is the right thing to do, but it's amazing how many guys don't wash their hands and don't even try to hide that fact. To those men, thanks for spreading disease and general nastiness. What men should consider are all the points I mentioned above and what women should know is that this frequent routine can be stressful for us guys. We don't "bond" in the bathroom and we don't have nice little lounge areas to relax. We have to get in, do the right things and get out.
Being charitable is admirable. We help those who are victims because they need help and we, out of the goodness of our hearts, want to help without asking for anything in return. But what I've been thinking about lately is the fact that some people put themselves in situations in which they'll be more likely to need help. If they keep doing that repeatedly, should we keep helping? It depends, but there are many examples in which it shouldn't be expected. Sometimes people can afford health insurance, choose not to buy it, and then end up needing hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical care. The same applies to renter's or homeowner's insurance and fires. Others put their homes in flood plains or areas where forest fires typically strike. Hurricanes for that matter tend to strike the same parts of the world, but when residents are struck by such storms, help is expected year after year.
The issue du jour is debt assistance for all those people that bought crazy adjustable rate mortgages and didn't have the mathematical sense to know that their payments could double one day. Should the government step in and help at taxpayer expense? Or is this financial Darwinism? Some of these people were living it up on borrowed money, others were being greedy and trying to flip condos for quick cash. Those people can pay for their situation with all the money they made on prior flips. It's not fair that those of us who spend within our means should have to help those that didn't. Maybe the unscrupulous mortgage companies can start pitching in to help.
This logic can even be extended to people who don't take care of their own health, but that gets a little hazy. Is their affliction genetic? Then you can't blame them. Perhaps the propensity to overeat or even the lack of willingness to exercise stems from this. But then people that are unhealthy don't usually plead for our help. If being unfit makes them miss work more often, then the rest of the people have to pull the load. That's not so fair either.
I don't agree with how the new laws makes it harder for individuals to claim bankruptcy when it seems no harder for corporations to do so anymore, but prevention of the need for charity should be explored. Some tragedies happen to people through no fault of their own and it's hard to draw a line in some cases. Children don't deserve the consequences of the stupidity of their parents. But certain things make you want to say to adults "tough luck", or "you should have known better". People who keep themselves from getting into such situations get no credit or bonuses for intelligence, but maybe they should.
It may not sound like it, but I am actually a bleeding heart liberal. Some people hit hard times and we need to take care of them. It's hard to get a job when you don't have a home, an address or a suit. I just wish people were smarter and didn't repeatedly come to others for help over the same issue. That is quite a wish.
I'm going to try to write about religion in a hopefully non-controversial way because what I'm writing about is equally offensive to all religions, (but not that offensive). Many people say that all religions originated from the same roots. But that's not true to most people because if it was, all the religion-following people would be of one religion and live in peace.
What I find interesting about many religions is that the description "God-fearing" is supposed to be a good thing. Why is it good to fear what controls the universe or pervades the universe? That would mean you would have to live your life in fear. Or it just may mean that it's assumed you're going to do something wrong so you better be afraid of the implications. Why not put a positive spin on the "consequences of believing"?
Another common thread with all religions is that we must continually praise God and repeat God's name over and over. If God is so wise and powerful, does God really need affirmation from us? If I believe that God is great and that I am appreciative of God, wouldn't he know it? God is omnipotent after all. Why does anybody have to tell God overtly? These questions may have "by-the-book" answers, but I don't know enough about all the religions for a satisfactory answer. One other question for which no religion has given me a good answer is "why do babies die?" Every religion has its own excuse, but no justified explanation.
Some religions like to convert people to their way of thinking. I can understand that if you think your one way of worship is the right way, you want to share that with whoever you can. But what about all the people that existed before the religion did? Are they damned for not having known? And if not, then one would hope that a forgiving God wouldn't hold it against a person living today in the middle of a rainforest who hasn't learned about the one true way. The way I see it, if God wanted there to be one true way to believe, God would not have allowed all these other religions to exist. And shouldn't the first religion be the most valid? I would think that the direction to the one true faith would be obvious and heavily favored by events that occur courtesy of God.
The last area where I see religion pushing similar agendas is with their views on detachment from worldly possessions. If God put us on this worldly planet, why would he want us to detach ourselves from the nice things that are available to us? I guess you could say it's a test, but that's a bit mean. One theory I have on why religion tells us to detach ourselves from our things and money is so that the temple/church/mosque/synagogue and its clergy can have more of them at our expense. As far as I'm concerned, God doesn't need money because God already owns all the money and God should be able to move it around at will.
When people refer to God as "my God" or "our God", then they are supporting the idea that if I start a new religion tomorrow, that I will be creating a new God. That would mean that man created religion instead of God creating man. But then, who says there's only one God per religion? Monotheistic religions tend to look down upon the idea of polytheism. Perhaps it's because that concept does open the door to the creation of new religions and resulting new Gods.
Even though I'm a Hindu who's more philosophical than religious, these questions I have make me believe in religion with a grain of salt. I believe in God mostly because I feel this universe is too well thought out to be just random, and karma makes sense to me in the way it explains the balance of the universe. I apologize if I have offended anybody and I would hope that many people comment below so we can have some good philosophical discussion.