The Tragic Quadrant

08 Jul

Like many other people, I have allergies and, as a result, this time of year I am almost constantly clearing my throat.  It’s not a percussive hacking cough, just a mild, quiet *ahem*.  But despite what I think, it’s apparently the most annoying sound ever produced because the people around me react to it in ways ranging from the “look of death” to outward hostility.  Some of these irate people actually tell me to “keep it down” as if I have some sort of choice in the matter.  I mean, sure, I like being constantly congested and needing to clear my throat all the time.  Who doesn’t?

Naturally, this happens to me most often during my commute.  And, also naturally, most of the angry victims of my throat-clearing assault are people that are trying to sleep.  They’ll just be nodding off, and then… *ahem*.  Their eyes snap open, and they glare at me intensely.  It’s as if they are trying to silence me purely with the palpable negative power of their seethingly malevolent will.  I can almost feel the concentrated rays of hatred molecules bombarding my head.  They stare at me in this way until… at last… their eyelids begin to droop again, and then… *ahem*.

It can go on like this for an hour, or more.

Sucks to be them.

In my humble opinion, one major problem here is that a flawed assumption is being made by these individuals.  They are assuming that it is their God-given RIGHT to sleep on the train, and that any activity that precludes that should be punishable by any means necessary.

I would like to counter that assumption with the following simple rebuttal: “Go fuck yourself”.

This is perhaps why I am not a lawyer.

But, believe it or not, it’s not my congestion that is the topic of this entry.  No… it’s my reaction, or lack thereof, to these confrontations that I want to discuss.

For, you see, I have finally come to realize something that I am certain you all already know:  I am a giant pussy.  I say this because I don’t react to these situations at all like a man should.  I either completely ignore them or, in an unprecedented display of pussiness, actually say “I’ll see what I can do”.

In either case, despite my wholehearted belief that these people are complete dickheads, I have to stop myself from trying to “keep it down”.  For some ridiculous reason I actually feel compelled to make these mewling fuckwits happy.  In my head, however, I almost immediately concoct an entire fantasy exchange that makes me feel a bit more… manly:

Me: *ahem*

Commuter: Can you keep it down?

Me: Sorry.  It’s an allergy.  I get very congested when I am around cats, dogs or assholes.

Commuter: What’s that supposed to mean?

Me: See any cats or dogs around here?

Commuter: Are you calling me an asshole?

Me: Me?  No… but apparently my doctor is.

Haha… yeah, that would be great.  Right up to the part where they grind my face into the luggage rack.  But, sadly, those internal dialogs never become reality.  I just sit there and take it.  I hold in my witty retorts and avoid eye contact.  My only defense is to clear my throat more loudly and more often while I blog about it.

In analyzing this, I have realized that there are two dimensions at work here: “Level of wit”, and “Desire for confrontation”.  At the right levels, the effect can be pretty compelling.  At the wrong levels, the effect can be devastating.  The mixture of these two dimensions at varying concentrations can significantly affect your social acceptance as demonstrated by the following chart:


As you can clearly see, I am firmly entrenched in the “Introverted Geeks” quadrant (Go figure).  And after some deep introspection, I have concluded that it is highly unlikely that I will ever stray into any of the other quadrants.

I don’t think it’s overweening of me to suggest that I am somewhat witty.  And, short of a massive cranial injury, I don’t see my wit-level decreasing anytime soon, even if it never appreciably increases.  Also… although I am becoming a much grumpier person as I age, I am fairly confident that I will never be truly combative without the assistance of copious quantities of alcohol (which I don’t typically consume); I really just don’t have it in me to openly oppose someone that I disagree with… at least not face-to-face…

Still… as time goes on, I am discovering more creative outlets for this ire (such as this blog).  For instance… although I am not the kind of parent that will go into my child’s school in-person to complain to their teacher about something, I will write a long, detailed note that will most-likely anger them much more than any direct confrontation ever would…

Ms. Harmony,

  I wanted to bring something to your attention about the last test that Sean took. There was a question on the test that bothered him because it had incorrectly identified prehistoric sea creatures as dinosaurs, which he pointed out to you in class.  When he did so, however, he was told, by you, that he was incorrect.  His respect for your authority prevented him from arguing the issue further, but he was clearly troubled enough by the exchange to bring it to my attention. 

  I have attached several articles on the subject matter, including the standard Webster’s Dictionary definition of the word “dinosaur” all of which clearly support his observation.  I recommend reviewing this material as thoroughly as possible if you ever hope to avoid being embarrassed by 8-year-old children in the future.  I also recommend that you give my son the benefit of the doubt when he questions something like this since it is clear that he has forgotten more about dinosaurs than you will ever know.  Bitch.


Craig Coffey 

The actual note may have been a tad less aggressive, but the intent was the same.  To ensure that she knew that in a battle of wits with an 8-year-old child, she had actually lost.  And, with any luck, to make her question the value of her miserable life to the point that she considers early retirement… from her career, or just from life in general. (In case it isn’t clear here, I hate this bitch.)

So… to get back to my point here… To put it gently, I am not a physically impressive person, nor do I realistically believe I will ever be.  And so my brain, such as it is, is the only thing that gives me the upper-hand in any situation.  Thus, I think it is very likely that I will forever be an introverted geek, happily hiding behind sarcastic emails and snarky blog entries in lieu of open hostility.

It’s not exactly the makings of a bold and honorable life, but it beats the heck out of getting my ass kicked every time I open my mouth.

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Posted by on July 8, 2009 in Uncategorized


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