Saturday, July 24, 2021

The Saturday Morning Post - I am worried about us


I am worried about us, about how we interact with one another. Especially after 17 months of being apart, many of us are craving being together and at the same time we need to work on our togetherness skills.  Let's face it, it has not been an easy 17 months, it is not like we were all on a dream vacation, a slow luxury cruise around the world.  We were home, trying to stay safe, and healthy, and employed, and sane. Trying to find toilet paper, and flour, and yeast (I always have yeast in the freezer.) We had to learn new survival skills, how to wash our hands, how to not get too close to others, how to sign up for a waiting list for vaccines, how to work remotely, how to navigate Zoom, and Teams, and other mysterious platforms.  Some of us might need some time to return to socialization.  Time for kindergarten or preschool for all of us.  

The subway has decided now, just as we are starting to return to the office, it is time to fix a 40 year old ventilation problem on the line that runs under my office, so they will be single tracking for 6 weeks.  To avoid the chaos, I am riding an alternate line to station 10 minutes walk from my desk.  I need to get exercise so in the morning I am getting off one station farther away and walking.  It is a nice 15-20 minute walk, a good start on my 30-60 minutes each day. That is a long way around to get to someone I am seeing often. There is a man at the corner of 15th Street Northwest and K-Street Northwest, right in the heart of lobbyist land, who comes out every morning, sits on a folding chair on the corner in front of a coffee shop and wishes everyone a "GOOD MORNING!"  He shouts, he blows a whistle to get people's attention so he can shout at them. People avoid him like the plague, I can just imagine the lawyers in the office tower trying to find a way to move him from that sidewalk. Maybe he is homeless, maybe is mentally challenged, or mentally ill, maybe he is lottery winner who has devoted his life to wishing the world a good morning.  I don't know but people are avoiding him, and that worries me. 

The first morning I kept my distance, he looks - well not entirely normal - whatever normal would look like.  But then he is sitting on a busy street corner in the heart of a major world capital bellowing out GOOD MORNING to passers by, what can I expect him to look like.  The second morning, I went closer, close enough to make eye contact and I said, "GOOD MORNING TO YOU, You have a great day!" And he said, "thank you, you too." 

I am worried about us, worried that we would avoid a dear soul who only wants to wish us a Good Morning, a good day!  Maybe I will join him when I retire, wishing the world a GOOD MORNING!  Everyone needs something to do, some purpose in life, his is to wish the world a good morning.  

At the end of our department meeting, the boss asked if anyone had done anything interesting, or heard a good joke. A colleague said she could certainly use a good laugh. Then the Zoom call ended.  I thought about it for a minute, and went to YouTube and looked at clips from some of my favorite feeds.  Everyone of them was potentially offensive to some sensitive person.  I thought about the mandatory training on workplace harassment, and hostile workplace and couldn't find a roll on the floor laughing clip that wasn't potentially offensive to someone.  

I am worried that we have lost our sense of humor in the workplace.  Too many things offend someone.  I recently was asked to take the word "vulnerable" as in "vulnerable adult" out of a PowerPoint because someone was offended by the term (it is used in many state adult abuse statutes to describe a person covered under the statute.) To quote a line from a Jimmy Buffet song, "if we can't all laugh, we  all go insane."  Oh sorry, that might offend someone.  Laughter is great medicine.  Certainly the ethnic and blond jokes of the past are no longer appropriate, but there has to something funnier than Seinfeld that we can share. I never understood the humor in Seinfeld. 

17 comments:

  1. I think mental illness is at an all time high. And yet again, most of it is getting swept under the carpet instead of helping these people or more support for them. And even people that aren't mentally ill, get weird looks when one saya hi, good morning, or small talk. I think that guy sounds harmless. And you right... just like the establishment to want to probably have him removed. It seems to be their answer to everything. And I agree with humor too. People these days are so offended easily and by everything it seems. I have never had a filter and border insult comic....I ruffled feather and my reply is generally lighten the fuck up.

    We're in trouble.

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    1. I'm blond and have never been offended by those jokes or gay jokes. Hell I make jokes about myself. I think people are either thick skinned or wimps. Like Lisa Lampanelli once said, You don't like my show, there is the door bitch.

      And someone was offended by the word vulnerable?!?!?!?!?!?!?! Someone got a stick up there ass.

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    2. You have been known to make the world laugh, we need that

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  2. I'm trying to think of another term that would adequately convey the important conceptual meaning of "vulnerable adult" -- perhaps "at-risk person"? Hmmmm.

    I would yell "GOOD MORNING" right back at that daily greeter. Of all the things he COULD be saying, surely "good morning" is pleasant and well-meant? I laughed at your remark that "maybe I will join him when I retire" because, yes, there are worse ways to spend leisure time!

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    1. A person at risk, or a person with a limited ability to defend them self. The word police are often nullified when you replace one word with 5 or 10. I can find people standing on the street shouting much worse.

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  3. I DO understand the importance of being aware of how words affect others, but “vulnerable”?

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    1. That was a new one. The request came through someone who pays for 45% of my time, buy my time, and I will say it yourway.

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  4. I don't understand how vulnerable could be offensive. I suppose it is difficult in very diverse communities to focus on any aspect of the human condition. Young straight white people from comfortable backgrounds are easy but generally boring targets of humour. Humour at the expense of hipsters is usually acceptable. Hard subject really.

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    1. Just when I think I have heard it all. I am always a little surprised across cultures at what is considered acceptable and what is considered offensive.

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  5. I never understood Seinfeld either so I'm glad to hear someone else say it.
    Good for you for speaking to that man.

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    1. And I am sure that there are things that I find funny, that leave others cold

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  6. I think I might have avoided that man, too, for a minute, but then, like you, I would have said Hello.
    What does that hurt? Even if he is mentally challenged, he's just saying Hello.

    And vulnerable isn't a bad word ...is it?

    I adored, and adore, Seinfeld. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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    1. And the success of Seinfeld funded an amazing Porsche collection

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  7. Yes we have grown bad about social interactions and with a sense of humor. We seem to crave contact but are taking offense more readily.

    Every morning I try to send out a 'good morning' greeting to my nearest and dearest (at least the ones I think you like so)
    I hope we never take offense at common curtosies or customs.

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  8. A few thoughts about words. Firstly consider the source. I worked in a Dental office for years and sometimes I was called “the girl at the desk”. Now if it was someone I liked I was not offended but if it was someone I had no use for I was offended. The patient who called me “the girl at the desk” was usually then called the guy in the chair with a laugh! Being offended by a word might seem thin skinned but I am sure there is a description of you or me that would offend . Lastly I was a blonde my retort was always “ why are blonde jokes so short…that so brunette or men can remember them.

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