Sunday, December 31, 2006

Beware my 40-watt porch light, burglars and murderers!

Not only do I read too much Stephen King, as Janet pointed out, but also, I've watched way too much TV in my lifetime. Yesterday morning, as I was putting on my tennis shoes to go exercise, I thought "Sock, sock, then shoe, shoe. Your way is styooopid!" And then I giggled to myself.

Confused? OK, in an episode of All in the Family, Michael was putting on his shoes while talking to Archie, and Archie noticed that Michael put on a sock, then the shoe, and then repeated the process on his other foot. Archie was horrified. He told Michael everyone knows you're supposed to put socks on both feet first, and then put both shoes on. Michael pointed out that if a fire broke out in the middle of putting on his shoes, and he had to run out of the house into the rain, he could at least hop around on one foot--the one that already had a sock and shoe on it--and wouldn't get the naked foot wet. Archie's way, he'd be running around in his socks and get both feet wet.

Not that I think all of life can be explained through the medium of TV shows, but sometimes I do find meaning in seemingly meaningless sitcoms or cop dramas or whatever. Remembering this All in the Family episode made me realize that even if there's no good reason for doing something a particular way, we're capable of justifying it--sometimes with sound, simple reasoning and sometimes with convoluted, farfetched logic. And, of course, our way is always the right way.

I get irritated with Kevin, for example, because he never remembers to turn on the outside light next to the back door before coming to bed. I insist that light should be on because if a burglar or an axe murderer--you know, the same one who tried to break in through my creaky basement door the other morning, or one of his pals--is lurking around the back yard, the blazing 40-watt yellow bug light is going to deter him. The police might spot him in the brilliant clarity of that light, after all! I assume all burglars and axe murders are prudent and cautious fellows. You don't get successful in those lines of work by being slapdash and careless.

I say "we" because everyone I know justifies his or her methods of doing things with varying degrees of nuttiness. It's not just my own peculiarity. One friend told me her husband, who's a chef, insists on putting forks in the dishwasher tines down to avoid contaminating the eating surface with bacteria when grabbing the forks to remove them from the dishwasher. His way, you grasp the forks by the handles, thereby preventing bacteria on your hands from contaminating the tines. I pointed out that bacteria could, theoretically, travel down the handle to the tines. I mean, those little suckers can travel, or spread, right? His method seems pointless to me, but I'm sure it makes perfect sense to him.


I feel compelled to clarify my complaints about Kid Manager in my previous entry, after reading the lovely Lisa's comment (who has a great name!). It sounded like I was lumping all young recent graduates into the same group, and I didn't mean to do that. Wisdom most emphatically does not always come with age, and I think the young are often beset with uncertainty more than hubris. I know I was. Also, I've worked with many people in their early 20s who are better organized and more capable of staying on top of details than I am.

What bothers me is how common it's becoming to throw inexperienced people into managerial positions they're not ready for--and that it's often done because hiring someone right out of college is cheaper than paying, say, a middle-aged person with several years of applicable experience. I know staying in business is tougher these days for companies, but I think cutting corners without considering the consequences is a disturbing trend in business--at least, the business I'm in. Hiring practices are just one example, too. I could blather on ad nauseum and bore you to tears, but in short, I'm seeing major changes in several clients that are going to drastically reduce the quality of the books they publish. And that's a damn shame.


I have no big plans for New Year's Eve tonight. Daniel's going to his dad's, and Kevin is working until 10:00. We're planning a bed picnic--probably fruit, cheese, French bread, and wine--while watching the countdown on some channel. I don't know whether I can bear to watch the post-stroke Dick Clark, poor man, and I get quite enough of Ryan Seacrest on American Idol, so I'll have to find an alternative. Whatever you're planning to do, be safe, yes? Happy last day of 2006!