December 9, 2008


I was in the waiting room of a doctor's office and I picked up something to read, I flipped open the mag and it opened right up to an op ed piece about convenience. I was intrigued. Sitting, waiting for a physical exam didn't really seem to me to be convenient. Then it struck me that sitting for any exam really doesn't meet the criteria of convenient either. But oh how convenient that I should flip to a page in a magazine and voila I find such an article. Timing is everything.

I read the first sentence. It went like this: "Convenience." Then the nurse called me. It occurred to me as the kindly nurse was SCREAMING MY NAME AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS ACROSS THE CROWDED WAITING ROOM that by its very definition, convenience is anything intended to save time, energy or frustration. Furthermore, I was struck by the fact that the entire concept of convenient/convenience is largely the primary driver of all societal leaps of civility made within the history of man kind. All this within the 34 seconds it took me to get from my seat in the waiting room, down the hall, weighed, and into the exam room. I was really starting to make some hugely prophetic and philosophizing connections about human nature by the time I got my pants off and my johnny on - with the opening in the back, thank you very much. Think about those things in our lives that are convenient - cars, watches, personal computers, drive-thru windows, airplanes, list goes on and on.

Let's think about this whole convenient concept for a moment while I digress for just one second and get something off my mind. The nurse's booming voice and the insensitive breach of my privacy incenses me, it drives me nuts, fries my ass right where I sit, gets under my skin, is irritating and aggravating, but most of all it is inconvenience made worse only by the fact that she does not call me by name. Rather she shortens it to that other name I hate because she's too damn lazy to read my name in full. As I walk towards her I'm thinking, 'Read aloud what the paper says. Don't get cute and cut it short because you think that's they way it should be. You are NOT that kind of bright.'

---Deep cleansing breath!---


If we do consider the proposal that convenience is such a primary source of motivation for man-kind, can we dive deeper and make some connections between the behaviors of those people whom we generally accept as being pillars of society - a representative of things good, pure, and what 'ought to be' - and their inherent ability to succeed by creating conveniences for people en masse? Take Obama, a president-elect in whom we believe is going to make many things right again. The idea is that 'Yes We Can' restore the convenient way of life to which we all have become accustomed in the last 34 years. Correct? Of course...because it sure as hell rings loud and true to me that the thousands of people who are losing (or going to lose) their job have reached the pinnacle on the inconvenient meter and would like to get back on the convenience scale as fast as humanly possible. Right, wrong or indifferent, I think we buy into the concept of convenient as the end all be all measure of acceptability; civility; distinguishing behavior. All this has me wondering whether or not that narrow scope is in fact crippling us as a species.

And, of course, let's take the time to compare these people who reach almost iconic stages to those whom we acknowledge as a little, shall we say, lack luster in performance. Those whose flame just doesn't seem to burn as brightly on as wide of a scale and who don't really seem to be doing anything on the convenience front. The only thing they're doing on the convenience tip is stopping to pick up a six-pack and some cigarettes. If anything, they're spending their life inconvenienced. Why? Because they're in the grind; in the weeds; making it work day to day, week to week...they are getting by. They're not out there making huge strides to cure some disease (again another opportunity for a huge rating on the convenience scale, right?) They're the cogs in the wheels which keep the expectation of convenience so high, yet they are the people who very often are over looked and couldn't begin to articulate what conveniences they truly needed. They just know they don't want to be inconvenienced. "They".....I'm in that group of theys.....I should be saying 'We'.....or better yet, 'I'.

Why did the nurse piss me off - because I was inconvenienced. People in that waiting room to whom I had no prior association are now making judgements about me based on the supposition that I'm there for some management of a terrible disease. Furthermore, they know my name. Two strikes against this nurse all in the fell swoop of 3 seconds. I digress. If you haven't noticed, that damn nurse pissed me off somethin' fierce!

To wrap this diatribe up here - i guess i came away from my day today feeling that there has to be something other than convenience as a way to measure progress, success, achievement, substance, intent, 'ought to be', performance, fulfillment. I think it should be something not so cripplingly caustic. Pursuit and achievement of it can't erode the cogs in the wheel otherwise the wheel stops turning!

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