Mistakes We Make: Social. Spiritual. Professional. Style.


An Inconvenient Truth

By NJ@30

Usually when I write, it starts with the title, and everything sort of evolves from there. My  instinct was to name this article something like, ‘Things That Hate Me’, or ‘Things That Make Me Want to Fist Fight’, but ‘hate’ and ‘fight’ evoke pity and haste, and the goal for this piece is to leave you with sense of ‘oh well’.

Can you predict annoyances? I can. I don’t consider this a talent or skill, because it doesn’t seem to offer any type of value to anyone or anything. Confusing? Here’s an example of what I mean:

A few months ago, I traveled to Atlanta to get curb stomped for 2 days by managerial mustaches from my job.  Arriving at a hotel, for me, is incomplete without the sucker punch most of you refer to as ‘checking in’. It begins with the standard script; Reservation? Check. Non-smoking room? Often lied to, but check. Room key? Here’s where the water boarding begins.

The desk clerk slides me the key card, directs me to the elevators, and wishes me a pleasant stay.

I ask her to please stay nearby, because the room key is going to fail and I will be back in about three minutes. She politely assures me that she programmed it with the correct number, and their system is very accurate.

“This has nothing to do with your ability as an employee, or the hotels’ sophisticated room-entry system,” I tell her. “I’m just letting you know that the door to my room will not be opened with this card.”

There’s little suspense about who would be right. Like always, I left my luggage at the desk, headed to my room, and watched the small red light from the handle mock me, like a carnival employee at the dunking booth.

There is no satisfaction in these exchanges. Most folks think I’m exaggerating about these routine nuances, until they witness them in person. Go with me to Subway for lunch, and watch in horror as the nurse in front of me produces the blue prints to a sandwich order to feed an entire hospital staff.

‘Pay at the pump’? Not me. Please see the cashier for your receipt, as soon as she’s done with the gentlemen redeeming 6 months worth of scratch-offs.

Public restrooms? If I had a dollar for each time I walked in on Satan eliminating last nights chili and keg beer, I could afford to rent my own hotel room  just for urinating. (insert your own ‘wetting your pants because the key won’t work’ joke here)

For years I felt cursed, or that my life was being manipulated by total strangers, like Michael Douglas in The Game. My thirties have taught me to accept these towel whips as tutorials for the masters course in patience. Yes, they can cause me to be unhappy, but the eternal quest for happiness can be the most nauseating roller coaster ride imaginable. I think the more we focus our personal microscopes, the easier we can define happiness as an emotion, not a way of life. Much like sadness, depression, or anger, happiness can be quite fleeting. So is it really something to spend a lifetime chasing?

The Psalmist tells us from the very beginning, ‘Blessed is the man’, not ‘Happy’. I find that a huge part of developing patience in my life, is the reminder of how blessed I am. Much like the tree planted near a stream, I am alive and yielded with fruit. Nourishing others with patience has no ebb or flow, just a smooth ride of understanding and community.

So the next time you drive through Taco Bell for your usual three soft tacos, and are given two packages of fire sauce, sigh, and know you are not alone. Then calmly walk inside and take enough to last the rest of your life.

30 Thread #8: My opinion on wedding attire is as follows: unless the invitation states “formal” or “black tie”, I will not dress formal or wear a tie, especially during summer. Invest in a tailored sport coat for the ceremony, then toss it in the car and proceed in doing your part to put the father of the bride in the poorhouse.

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  1. Michael Wunderlick says:

    Good article, I think you should grow a mustache. It might help unlock doors.

  2. Philip says:

    The hotel key thing just happened to me this week…with two kids in my arms. Complete beat-down. I can’t say I predicted it though.

    +1 for referencing The Game.

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