Mowing down psychological tall grass and tangled weeds; clearing the field and planting new seeds. Thoughts lifted from my angry days, when someone asks my opinion and then denies it. If I tell you my favorite color, who else would have the "right" answer? Challenge it, oppose if you must, but to correct it is to erase my existence. If we all had the same thoughts, there would be no need for democracy. Cogito Ergo Sum.


The story behind the name

I once worked as a computer drafstman (sometimes called a detailer) for a very well known heavy-equipment manufacturer. I have never been known to hide my feelings, and it is my opinion that if someone is deliberately provoking me to get a reaction, I will give them precisely what they were expecting. One of the managers from another nearby department (we'll call him 'Jeff') who I was obligated to deal with from time to time was fond of calling me "Boom Boom": He said that was the sound of the two gunshots when I finally went postal.

One particular day I was already wound up...parking snafu on campus where I was attending class, parking snafu while at work (go figure your employer can't find a place to put your car) and other miscellaneous things were ricocheting around in my head - the kind of stress that we all are burdened with. I had to go into Jeff's department for some reason, and although it was not that I had specifically to deal with this particular antagonist on this occasion, as I approached I could already see I had caught his eye and there was that grin on his face.

Knowing my limitations, and knowing I was near them if not already past, I approached Jeff in complete calm and said in a measured tone, "Today is not the day to get my goat. Please, just let me do my job and I'll go back to my desk."

And of course, confessing that was all the reason he needed to get him started. I don't remember what exactly his point was that day because I only let him go about thirty seconds before I stopped him:

"You know, Jeff, you're right about me. But my original plan when I snapped was to enter the building and spray the entire place indiscriminately with gunfire. Now I've decided I'm going to come right to your fucking desk and start with you."

It was suddenly very quiet throughout the department, and instantly I realized that I was in imminent danger of being escorted out of the building on the spot, probably subject to arrest, and surely committed to some kind of 'institution' until I could prove I was no threat to the community.

Amazingly enough that did not happen, and more amazing still was that Jeff did not tease me again after this encounter. We got along with a professional attitude from there forward and were able to accomplish work-related tasks without any further hostility or confrontation.

So I want you to ponder this situation for a moment, and ask yourself just one question: Is is more outrageous that I would ever dare to say something so unthinkable, or is it more outrageous to realize that it was only once I said something so unconscionably obscene that the he finally took me seriously?

In the years since, I have reduced this to a parable of my own conception to get this point across without involving my personal experience:

If you see a dog - a mangy, angry, growling dog, covered in open wounds, with it's teeth bared and frothing at the mouth, hunkered down in the corner, it's a pretty safe assumption that if you were to charge over there and poke it in the nose, it's going to bite you.

So if you decide to march on over to that dog - who was not coming after you before you approached it - and do just that, and the dog does bite you...

...don't blame the dog. He did exactly what you expected he would. You were the one who gave him the reason he did not have before you poked him in the nose.

Therefore, if you are the type of person who finds it personally amusing to "push people's buttons" just so you get the opportunity to admonish them that they never should have had whatever reaction you feel was inappropriate, may I suggest to you that you got what you asked for. If you don't want a bad reaction, don't deliberately invite one.

Even if you are right that the person you want to condemn never should have done that, once they've already done it it's a bit late to prove your point, don't you think? And you chose to antagonize them and encourage the situation knowing full well where it was headed.

That's not the fault of the dog. Before you came along, he was hunkered down in the corner trying to avoid everyone, wasn't he?

I'll let you leave your comments in answer; the rest of my posts are similar observations about how humans, who are supposed to be the one species with more brain power than all the others, so often deliberately chooses to use so little of it - if any at all.


dharmafarmer said...

Hi Snafubar!

This part

"So I want you to ponder this situation for a moment, and ask yourself just one question: Is is more outrageous that I would ever dare to say something so unthinkable, or is it more outrageous to realize that it was only once I said something so unconscionably obscene that the he finally took me seriously?"

is the root of poetry. And you keep reminding me of other poetry! This is from "Angle of Yaw" by Ben Lerner:

"The detective pushes red tacks into the map to indicate where bodies have been found. The shooter is aware of this practice and begins to arrange the bodies, and thus the tacks, into a pattern that resembles a smiley face. The shooter intends to mock the detective, who he knows will be forced to confront this pattern daily on the precinct wall. However, the formal demands of the smiley face increasingly limit the shooter's area of operation. The detective knows, and the shooter knows the detective knows, that the shooter must complete the upward curving of the mouth. The detective patrols the area of the town in which bodies must be found if the shooter is to realize his project. The plane on which the killings are represented, and the plane on which the killings take place, have merged in the minds of the detective and the shooter. The shooter dreams of pushing a red tack into the map, not of putting a bullet into a body. The detective begins to conceive of the town as a representation of the map. He drives metal stakes into the ground to indicate the tacks."

Which one is really choosing the next victim, right?

Anyway, that is what a poem looks like these days, exactly the way I typed it. Ben Lerner has a whole book full of those and you just did the same thing! I'm not a writer or a tutor of writers; I just appreciate poetry when I see it, but if I could make one suggestion that I think might be useful, I'd say to try writing in the third person, like Ben does (although, when you wrote "you" that was helpful, too). It makes writing more accessible to readers, helps them relate more easily than when a story is written from first person perspective.

I'll drop by periodically; I'm looking forward to more!

Well wishes.

Sequana said...

It's late and I'm tired, but I just want you to know that I'm here and reading. I've subbed you with Bloglines.

I'm not sure how often I'll comment, but I read all the way thru your diary on Kos and enjoyed the way you think......and write.

on2them said...

My first visit of many, looking forward to your additions.

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