My Office Mate Hates the 21st Century, Too (But She’s Not Sure Why)

January 15, 2010 at 3:59 am | Posted in Goal Progress, In the News, The Heath Care System | Leave a comment

My office mate began her own odyssey with CVS Pharmacy yesterday, which spawned a certain amount of schadenfreude in my breast. After wrestling with their website for 45 minutes, she burst out, “Wait a minute, I have to go to CVS? For everything? Isn’t that, like, socialism or something?”

I didn’t think to say, “No, that’s capitalism,” so I satisfied myself with remarking, “And they charge you the whole cost of a prescription if you don’t use mail order for maintenance medications.”

I wanted to launch a rant about single-payer health insurance, but I know from experience that even the brightest of my coworkers couldn’t tell you how a bill gets signed into law — they wouldn’t know to call it a bill. It’s been decades since I’ve made a scolding remark like, “Didn’t you take Civics in high school?” but, boy, the temptation lingers.

So, yeah, I’ve given up on debating politics at the office. After all, in an awe-inspiring example of false consciousness, my Hispanic office mate listens to country music. As I sit at my desk, I can hear the engineers in the office next door demanding of each other, “And if he’s an American, then why is Obama hiding his birth certificate?”

While we’re on the subject of my coworkers’ peculiar political ideas, here’s a joke that the company president told in a speech yesterday. He said that an Afghan told it to a soldier from the U.S.

An American, and Afghan, and a Russian are sitting and gazing out over a lake. Suddenly the American takes off his watch and tosses it in. The Russian says, “Are you crazy? Why did you throw a perfectly good watch into the lake?”

The American says, “Oh, I was getting kind of sick of it. I have plenty more at home, and I can always get another one.”

The Russian thinks about this, then tosses his Kalishnikov into the lake. The Afghan says, “Are you crazy? Why did you throw a perfectly good weapon into the lake?”

The Russian replies, “I was getting kind of sick of it. I have plenty more at home, and I can always get another one.”

The Afghan looks down. He has nothing.

So he throws the American and the Russian into the lake.

Our company president’s account of the joke’s origins were probably apocryphal, but it does make for a nicely ambiguous story.

In other news, my plot to become The Perfect Mental Patient is coming along well. I’ve walked for 20 minutes every day this week, and though I haven’t managed to smile at 10 people a day while looking them in the eye, I have averaged seven or eight grins. And it’s true — people do grin right back. In fact, they match your grin. If all you manage is a vague tightening of the lips, then they’ll do that, too. If you flash a broad, genuine smile, then you will have the pleasure of sharing a happy little exchange with all but the most grim folks.

I haven’t been doing as well using my conversational ice breakers. I’ve enjoyed a couple of nice chats, but I’m still all too likely to fall into a morass of uncertainty and self-consciousness, which can bring any conversation to a sputtering halt. Having mastered the winning smile, for the next three days I will devote myself wholly to chatting people up. We’ll see. When my resolve falters, I ask myself, “Do you want to live in complete isolation, going for days without hearing anything beyond, ‘Plastic OK with you, ma’am?'” That usually startles me into compliance.

That’s enough for now. I love you all tenderly.

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