Socrates nailed it when he famously said, “All I know is I know nothing.” I couldn’t agree more.
Please know that I’m not gloomy or pessimistic. Not at all. It’s just that certain things about existence baffle me.
I’m not referencing the eternal questions such as the meaning of life, the universe’s origins, how one finds true love, or if “crunchy” is a legitimate type of peanut butter.
I’m talking about less profound but equally perplexing things.
For example, pillows. I don’t get ’em. But it’s not pillows in themselves that confound me — I like a comfy spot to rest my head as much as the next guy.
I am referring to the volume of pillows that many women believe is a critical element in the home.
The guiding concept seems to be that the more pillows on the bed, the couch, and even the chair, the better.
This doesn’t make sense. There’s nothing functional or comfort-creating about a half-dozen or more pillows — cute or not — piled on the bed. It certainly doesn’t improve the sleeping experience.
At the most, all it does is help you burn a whopping eight calories when removing all those cushions when it’s time to get some shut-eye. Or make the bed.
And don’t get me started about throw blankets, otherwise known as “throws.” I’m speculating that a throw adds character and style to a given space. Fine.
But answer me this: Why not just use a full-size attractive blanket? Fold it and allow it to serve double duty. After all, when the winter months come around and you want to curl up on the couch with a good book, wouldn’t you want a blanket that actually covers your entire body, especially your feet?
Fourteen pillows on the bed. Blankets that don’t serve as blankets. Who came up with these ideas in the first place? As Billy Currington put it, people are crazy (and, of course, “beer is good and God is great.”)
It’s a strange world out there
I also need help understanding some of the folks I encounter at the grocery store. For that matter, at any retail establishment.
Here’s what I don’t understand: After waiting 15 minutes in a long line to check out, why is it that some don’t have their money ready as their items move forward on the conveyor belt?
They get to the register, the cashier rings up the sale and announces the total, and only then do these particular shoppers start searching their pockets or purses for their method of payment.
These are adults who have gone through the process of paying for things literally thousands of times. Being ready to pay should be part of their muscle memory.
But hey, I space out in line as well. I may get lost in my thoughts and anticipate potential regret about choosing BBQ-flavored chips instead of the sour-cream-and-onion variety. Critical examinations and such. And, of course, only the adjacent tabloid headlines can keep me updated about Elvis. (For a man who lived most of his life in Memphis, he’s sure moved around a lot since 1977.)
Yet some behavior can’t be blamed on honest mental hiccups. Like, why do some folks try to game the express line? It says “10 items or less” for a reason. Anyone over six years old can decipher what the sign means. Don’t pretend that you don’t know what you’re doing — because the other shoppers know that you do know what you’re doing.
Do those guys and gals have no shame?
Look in the mirror
I wonder, are those not-prepared-to-pay shoppers the same people who love taking selfies?
To be clear, I don’t have a problem with digital self-portraits. Take one here, take another there. I see the appeal; selfies are fun to take and share.
But what I don’t understand is that some folks snap them all the time: look at me eating lunch at the new café, look at me at the Grand Canyon, look at me with the giant fish I just caught.
Yes, you do have a friendly, perhaps even lovely face. And I’m more than happy to admit that most of you are better to look at than me. But haven’t you seen your face enough?
Of course, we’re all a bit self-absorbed. Yet we have to remember to step into the shoes of others and see how they might feel in a given situation.
Take the concept of tipping service workers. I don’t understand why some of my otherwise kind and considerate fellow humans lack simple generosity.
I’m not a Buffett or a Gates, but I believe that everyone should start at 20% every time they’re wining and dining, or even when grabbing a coffee and a blueberry muffin on the way to the office.
Waitpersons, bartenders, and baristas don’t rake in the ducats; most of their earnings are from tips. Please consider that when paying your next bill, because your server won’t understand why you had to nickel-and-dime them.
Some serious head-scratchers
I don’t understand the point of the “door-close” button in elevators. When you press your floor, the elevator door automatically closes anyway after three seconds.
There’s no functional reason to push your floor button and then press door-close. The door-close button doesn’t do anything.
What’s the deal? I’m speculating that the door-close button is not even hooked up to anything — it’s a fake button because the guy who designed the elevator (Otis?) was displeased with the asymmetry of only having a door-open button. He needed balance. Which I can understand.
At this point you might be thinking, “Gee, Lee has way too much time on his hands to be examining such trivial things like pillows and elevators.” And you’re right. In fact, it can be outright dangerous to go too deep into the rabbit hole of things I don’t get. I could waste a lot of precious brain fluid and sanity.
For example, I shouldn’t even think about wallets with chains. What’s the point? Your wallet just dangles out there. Maybe it’s a safety thing? A fashion thing?
Thinking about incorrect grammar can also cause me mental strife. I don’t understand those who don’t know the difference between “your” and “you’re”, as well as “they’re”, “there” and “their.” It shouldn’t be so difficult.
But if I really want to drive myself bonkers, I’ll ponder how I don’t understand how the Federal Reserve works.
Even more emotionally challenging is wondering why your credit score decreases simply when someone requests a copy of your credit report.
What’s up with that? It’s not like the credit people discovered you have 35k in unpaid donut bills — you just want a loan for a new electric car, for crying out loud.
There you are, trying to do something noble for humanity and healthy for the planet and Bam!, you get penalized. It’s absurd. Kafka would’ve had a field day with stuff like that.
What are they thinking?
Here’s one that’s close to my heart: baseball. Specifically, I don’t understand how the current generation of baseball coaches and general managers are preparing pitchers.
Today’s pitchers are more fit than ever. They lift weights. They do yoga. They have personal nutritionists. They train year-round. They’re restricted to specific pitch counts to supposedly protect their arms. They’re pampered. Yet they get hurt all the time.
Meanwhile, their predecessors — guys who smoked, drank, lived on cheeseburgers, stayed out until 3am, and never even considered doing any non-game physical activity — had much longer and productive careers.
Look at the greats like Marichal, Jenkins, Gibson, Perry, Sutton, Ryan, Carlton, Palmer, Spahn, Blylevin, Maddux and many others of prior generations of hurlers. They seldom had arm problems. It was common for them to log 250 innings or more year after year. They regularly threw complete games (remember those?).
I can’t help but question the methodology employed by today’s baseball supposed gurus.
And while we’re on the topic of decisions, I really don’t understand what some politicians are thinking these days.
We regularly hear about a senator, congressperson, or other elected official caught in a scandal: An extramarital affair, an illegal business dealing, a conflict of interest, being flat-out overheard telling lies, incriminating themselves, and generally just offending people.
Don’t they realize that cameras and microphones are now everywhere?
Internet, email, and social media activity can be easily tracked. Everything they do and say can be recorded for all the world to see and hear. Actually, everything they do and say will probably be recorded, in public and private.
Don’t they grasp that “getting away with it” is much, much less likely in the 21st century? I don’t understand.
Since I’m on a roll here, allow me to unleash some more I-don’t-understandisms.
Why are we implored not to remove tags on pillows and bedding? Will something malfunction while we’re sleeping?
And why are there no precise, step-by-step instructions for folding fitted sheets?
And why do so many have poor parking-lot skills? It’s not like it takes Olympic-athlete-level coordination to pull into the space without straddling the lines.
But most importantly …
I don’t understand why everyone can’t get along. Call me naïve, call me idealistic, but I think most of us want the same life experience.
We want peace, cooperation, good health, equality, education, and opportunities. We want to be treated with respect and kindness.
Why is there so much division? I can’t comprehend why some folks don’t understand that it’s more important to be kind than to be correct. There needs to be less emphasis on winning at all costs and more emphasis on reaching mutually beneficial decisions. I genuinely believe we have the potential to do so much more of the latter.
Perhaps we should start a national movement of support groups to discuss the things we don’t understand. Instead of muttering to ourselves what we don’t get, we could genuinely talk it out to find answers, new perspectives, and clarity.
I’m talking important stuff here. We’d all have better grammar. We could lengthen the duration of pitching careers. Elevator rides would be less confusing. We might even boost the ethical quotient of our politicians. Now that’s something I could understand.
Addendum from LSomerbyCooke …
For young’uns curious about this blog’s title, Andy Rooney was an American journalist and essayist who was best known for his curmudgeonly commentaries (1978–2011) at the end of the television news show 60 Minutes.