Saturday, May 5, 2012

Going Rogue

After millions of years of evolution where the pretentious primates that ultimately became humanity worked its way down from the trees and onto the vast African savannas and finally the urban jungles of our own creation there is still one huge flaw in our development that we have yet to rectify. This defect in our maturity results from our inability to learn from our mistakes forcing us to constantly rediscover simple truths the hard way. Of course, you could also say that God in his, or her, infinite wisdom realized that we were such a huge aberration in the normal progression of life in the universe that just for laughs inserted in our DNA a self-destruction sequence with a time delay just to see how stupid we could get.

This would explain a whole multitude of strange macroscale behaviors like disco, Chia pets, suburbs, narrow-minded political and religious dogma, soul-sucking hyper-consumerism, and the belief that Republicans care for the middle and working classes just to name a very few. On the much smaller individual scale of things, I can only speak for myself but I have numerous examples of my own stupidity. In fact, one of those special events happened this morning readjusting my attitude and for at least the moment my outlook on life.

 It started yesterday morning as I entered the hospital cafeteria heading toward the glorious vat of cheese grits seeking corn and cheddar based Southern style nirvana. It is a given that the vast majority of people roaming any hospital located eatery are not there because they want to enjoy the smell of commercial grade antiseptic in the air while they partake in prison level cuisine. At that time of day, surgical waiting rooms are filled to overflowing with friends and family waiting for a loved one to go under the knife. The collective misery as scores of people sit in a confined spot waiting for the worst can get so thick sometimes that any escape, even to the cafeteria, can seem a godsend. Even with the welcome relief of being able to move around expressions on the faces of people in the cafeteria range from worry to outright fear.

 Everything in human affairs being relative I was dealing with my own dark thoughts after a series of small disasters and irritations that originated from my attempts to make as many people happy as possible by jumping through a series of increasingly smaller hoops. Now, it must be said that unless a person is born with a Romney-like silver spoon in their mouths it is a good idea to develop the agility to leap through a few moderate sized rings but never to the point you start daydreaming about taking a chain saw to work.

Be that as it may, as I was standing in line waiting for my chance to scoop out some cheese grits, the one item the cafeteria staff has yet to find a way to screw up, I had a lot of issues on my mind but I still had enough rationality to be aware of those around me. In the serving line for the full breakfast a few feet away from me were a husband and wife. They had all the standard hallmarks of people waiting for someone about to be operated on with their worried looks and nervous movements as they spoke in hushed tones to each other. I would have not given them a second look if I had not spotted the young boy of about four or five strutting up to them like a king while holding a single-serving box of Apple Jacks cereal in each hand.

“Mom, dad,” he said proudly, “I’ve got theses!” To show everyone else in the cafeteria his remarkable triumph, he turned around in a full circle and again yelled in what amounted to an expression of pure joy, “Look everyone I’ve got these!”

Now I like kids and believe they are the best part of the human race but even the most narcisstic and cynical human parasite would have been forced to smile at the site of this little kid just out of instinct. On a side and very partisan note, I do not include Mitt Romney in that exception. Given how he acts in my opinion, he would have fired the kid on the spot then attempted to make a joke about it while relating a story about his late dad. Despite the joyful nature of the kid from the look on his mom’s face, she did not share the same enthusiasm for sugary cereal.

“Sweetie, we are getting you a good breakfast, go put those back.” That statement froze the kid in a nanosecond. The look of rapturous joy on his face was replaced with sudden suspicion and steely determination with him bringing his arms down to the point he was hugging his two small cereal boxes. His dad chose that moment to rightful backup his wife.

“Son, go put the cereal back, we are getting you some eggs, toast, and sausage. “ Now I’ve had the scrambled eggs and sausage there and if truth be known the prepackage boxes of nearly pure sugar with cinnamon flavoring are probably healthier and better tasting but there was no way I could say anything about that subject. While only seconds went by the tension in the room grew as the small scene became the center point of everyone’s attention.

The result everyone expected was that the kid would get a disappointed look on his face then walk back to the small stand were the cereal is on display. Instead, the little dude took off like a warp-speed capable rabbit still holding the two boxes, twisting dodging around the other people in the cafeteria like a hall of fame running back. I followed his progress and not only did he successfully escaped the cafeteria but disappeared out into the hallway.

In spite of it all, the scene was a welcome break for everyone with numerous people immediately volunteering to pay for the two pilfered cereal boxes once they recovered from laughing. The lesson I relearned in all this might sound a little odd and counterintuitive (but when has that ever stopped me) but I realized yesterday do not sweat the small stuff originating from people with little minds. Enjoy life as much as possible, even if it means escaping from a hospital cafeteria.


Mr. Charleston said...

An escape worthy of Shawshank Redemption. One would assume with parent in hot pursuit.

Life As I Know It Now said...

Hi Beach. He must have been wanting some sugary cereal awfully bad to be that happy about it.

Neither breakfast is good for the kid--not the sugar boxed cereal or the egg and sausage. Give that kid a banana, wheat toast, and some orange juice and call it breakfast. :):)

Randal Graves said...

Wheat toast with butter and some jam, maybe, but mmmmm....sausage....
and maple syrup, and pancakes, and bacon, lots of bacon.

Don't discount cheese grits because if you guys ever run out of sutures, that thick goop should be enough to seal up any wound, right?

Mike Williams said...

Thursday while at Panera for lunch a tricycle motor peered over the divider between out booths. In my best Wilfred Brimley

"Mind your own business kid"

My daughter thinks I am socially retarded.

Windsmoke. said...

Well written indeed. Neither breakfasts would really be suitable especially the sugary cereal as the kid would probably be hypoactive and be bouncing off the walls by lunch time :-).

Pixel Peeper said...

LOL at the kid running!

Cheese grits, huh? Despite the facts that I've lived in the South for 12 years now, I've never developed a taste for grits. EXCEPT shrimp and grits...hmmmm.

Beach Bum said...

Mr. Charleston: Yeah, the dad went after him but the kid was quick.

Life AS We Know It: I'm pretty conscious about having a decent dinner but breakfast for me has got to be all bacon, grits, pancakes, and milk.

Randal: Amen dude, have to go for the gusto on breakfast. Grits are awesome for many things and cement can be one of them.

Mike: My own daughter did that same thing when she was much smaller. Now she just walks up and starts talking.

Windsmoke: The kid in question was definitely into his cereal.

Pixel: Got to have my grits. Another thing I noticed while in the army, one time while at Fort Jackson here in Columbia saw several guys have a nasty reaction to something on their trays. Went over to find out and the group, all from upstate New York, thought the grits they selected was Cream of Wheat.

Akelamalu said...

I can just picture the scene. :)

Robert the Skeptic said...

And here I just got myself into an emotional knot over empty toilet tissue tubes. Shit... I'm going to have a bowl of ice cream for breakfast right now!!

lime said...

hahahaha, i can just imagine the lil guy dashing between grownups legs and making a break for it only to hide somewhere while he enjoyed his booty.

John Myste said...

This will seem like it is off topic, but it swings back hard and speaks to your post with surgical precision, so be patient. (Ahahaha. Don’t be patient. Just be patient).

Why don't we learn from our mistakes? This bug in the human Operating System can be explained using cognitive child psychology. I have been reading about scientific “theories” on how children develop a concept of abstract morality. Is it in innate or taught? Do different cultures ultimately see morality has “doing no harm” at some point, or is morality inherently bound to social conventions? (I think we make morality up, so my personal question would be: how do we invent our personal ethics and how much of it is based on our concept of morality, but I digress).

One of the main studies were where children were asked if it is ok, for example, to push their siblings from a swing if their parents say it is OK; or, is it OK to run in the hallway, why or why not? The younger ones would typically say that their teacher says it is wrong, so it is. Later, they would say that it is wrong because someone could get hurt. Still later, they would try to justify why it may not be wrong, if both children agreed on the rules of “the game,” with the assumption that someone could get hurt. In the last case, if everyone agreed on the acceptable risk, then that “changed morality.”

Researchers concluded that morality dictated by an authority would always be stunted. That moral growth requires that children not just hear about right and wrong, but participate in it, have conflict, resolve conflicts in peer groups. To this end, they studied the children’s ability to empathize, to put themselves in the place of the “dictator” of morality. In the case of a peer group, other children, the rights of the other children are what dictated morality and the children could clearly understand, articulate and agree with the validity of those rights. It was not true for higher authorities, such as a teacher or a parent. Though they respected the moral authority of higher guardians, they could not empathize with them or articulate their perspectives. When obeying an authority to achieve morality, they were going through the motions, but in deference to faith in the authority, not commitment to the authority’s morality, which was not their morality by any measure other than inheritance. They did not have a genuine understanding.

This takes us back to your implied question: why don’t we learn from our mistakes? The one question, why does a poor man repeatedly vote republican, interests me less than the second, why do we not learn from history and condemn ourselves to repeat it. In the first case, the poor man did not empathize with his oppressors. He does not understand them. He submits to their moral authority. In the second case, the answer is: “They are not our mistakes. They are the mistakes of our peers. We did not participate in them. They were legends and stories with no tangible mass. We understand by doing, by participating. We can learn without real comprehension by hearing tales of what others did, what others experienced. We only have a passing belief, and sometimes not even that. We actually empathize and truly understand the results of what we do, and what we experience.”

On a side note, my sister is a “health nut.” Protesters tell her “You cannot live forever,” in rebuttal to her desire for a healthy diet, which seems to insult a great many cheese eaters. She has to tell them, over and over again, that she is not trying to extend her life, but just to make this one a good one, however long it is. She seeks to avoid unnecessary prolonged illness and chronic discomfort. She says that French fries are mostly “not food,” and she foolishly asks if people would eat tin foil if it tasted good. Content that she has made her point, she explores the matter no further and fails to wait for their inevitable answer: of course they would.

Red Nomad OZ said...

Hahaha, go kid, go!!! I guess hospital cafeterias are the one place above all others to feel a a sense of one's mortality! Life's too short to eat healthy stuff all the time, anyway!

And what in heck are cheese grits anyway?? You'll have to BYO if you ever land downunder ...