Just don’t inconvenience me

I don’t like people.

Maybe that seems a bit strong.

But I didn’t say I hate people… just a current state of serious dislike. It’s a step or two above that sentiment of “if all these people would just leave me alone, I could get my work done” in a situation where, naturally, those same people I wish would leave are exactly why I have work… and a job… in the first place.

A friend of mine had a great thought about dealing with the hassles associated with life… both on personal and professional levels. Her saying?

“Don’t inconvenience me.”

Essentially you could take that expression and place anything you want in front of it. Kids want to have a sleepover on Friday night? Fine, just don’t inconvenience me. Going to be late for work? Fine, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience me. And so on and on. I don’t want to spend Friday night driving around to pick up kids and Saturday bringing them back home. I don’t want to spend the majority of my shift cleaning up things you should have handled.

It’s not quite a state of burnout, when the task itself just seems frustrating and people are interrupting you. It’s different. Beyond that. It’s the person in the express lane at the grocery store… trying to get away with five items too many, and they also forgot to bring cash or a debit card, and they can’t seem to find their checkbook, and oh if you’ll just give them a minute. It’s the person weaving over the lines on the road… doing ten miles an hour under the speed limit for over five miles of road where you can’t pass, and then lowering the cell phone out of view when they pass the police officer parked on the side of the road.

My stepson has a great idea for cell phone users. If you have a cell phone in your car, you should be required to display the phone number on the back of your car. That way, when you start driving stupid, the person you are blocking can call you up, have you put the other person on hold, and tell you to hang up, pay attention and drive. I admit, it still needs some work, but it does have several great points in its favor.

When I was growing up I used to hear people say… and I’m sure all of you heard this as well… either “there’s no such thing as a stupid question” or “the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.” Well, they were wrong. There are plenty of stupid questions. Lots and lots and lots of them.

And people aren’t afraid to ask them.

And inconvenience me.

I suppose this whole inconvenience things leads into a more important question… what constitutes an inconvenience. If I don’t want you to inconvenience me, than I’m saying there are some things that I would not be upset by. Things I wouldn’t say were an inconvenience if presented with them. Perhaps, just perhaps, there are things I might be interested in. Which of course, leads us to what might be the more appropriate form of “don’t inconvenience me.” A simple question…

“What’s in it for me?”

Ah yes. Now that’s better. I’ll take care of this for you, but… what’s in it for me? No, I don’t mind doing that, but… what’s in it for me? So instead of being put out by the whole darn thing… why do I want to do it?… what’s my motivation?

I used to know this guy… tremendous ability to socialize. You could introduce him to anyone, and from the first words out of his mouth he would engage them with a great conversation. The funny thing was, I also noticed something else about him. You could put him in a room with… oh pick a number, 10? 20? 30?... people that he didn’t know. And within thirty minutes not only could he point to the majority of the room and correctly identify them by name and occupation, but he could tell you what all of those people he named could do for him…

“He works for an electronics company and he’s going to get me some great speakers for my car. She works for a record store and knows how to order that CD I’ve wanted but haven’t been able to find. And remember how I was hoping to get engaged? Well, she makes custom jewelry settings and is going to design the ring with me. And he works for a travel company, heard me talking about it, and is going to send me information on special deals for magical proposal settings.”

…and so on. He was, and is, good. Give him five minutes with a person and not only will he know their name and family history, but he’ll also have them contracted to build a deck in his backyard. Strange thing is, I don’t ever recall seeing him in anyone else’s backyard building their deck. Know what I mean?

I got married just over six years ago. One of the best and smartest things I ever did in my life. Along with a wonderful bride, I gained two stepsons. And quite quickly, I learned something very valuable. If you don’t hide the leftovers, they’ll be gone by morning. Interpret that in any way you see fit, simply understand that sometimes it isn’t such a bad thing to keep things from the kids. To be greedy. Unfortunately the youngest one is on to us, and he’s also taller than us now. Hiding things is more difficult than ever.

But the thing is, like it or not, society in general is designed around two concepts. First, an equal exchange where I’ll take care of this for you as long as we can finish off that for me. Or second, look out for number one. I’m sorry about this folks, but let’s face it, in society today it is virtually accepted as being better to receive instead of to give.

I worked with someone several years ago and we were exchanging horror stories about social lives. (Ok, we were talking about my horrible social life.) His summation of the dating world?

“If you don’t reach into the jar, you ain’t getting a cookie.”

A smart man.

And maybe that’s the real summation to it all. See, we grow up and go from dreaming about our future to actually having to pay the bills during our present. Instead of becoming a professional athlete, a famous musician, or maybe even a fireman, we end up having to pay rent, buy a car, and support a family. And we take what we need to in order to pay those bills. Dreams have a price. And so does life.

So far too many of us wind up looking at the work as an inconvenience. It’s not what we want to be doing. It’s not what we would be doing if we had a choice. It’s what we have to be doing. So stop bothering me, stop interrupting me, stop inconveniencing me.

Unless, of course, it’s in my best interest to listen to what you have to say.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com