The Five Types of Interruptors

Time for another Pet Peeve … this one is really high up on my list, I would say about #3.  This Pet Peeve, though, is a real blood pressure buster for me.  It’s nothing compared to the “space between exclamatory sentence and exclamation point”-thing; and gossipers ‘aint got nothing on it either.  What could be so bad, you ask?  People who excessively interrupt.

I’m not referring to people that accidentally walk into a room while you are putting the moves on your girlfriend in hopes that she will finally put out.  I’m also not talking about a person who has to stop a conversation for a bathroom break or to let their wife know they’re going to be home late.  Nope, I’m just talking about people who in the course of conversation cannot stop themselves from cutting in with their own, random bullshit.

In my mind, there are five major types of interruptors.  With the exception of the first, they are all enough to make me need a blood pressure cuff to make sure I’m not about to stroke out; although, each have their own subtle nuances to the craft of being an arrogant asshole.

#1  The occasional, harmless interrupter.  This person doesn’t actually realize that they are interrupting, and if they do they usually stop and apologize for it.  This happens to me once in a while and it’s usually when I have been around people that interrupt a lot – I just get used to feeling like I need to get my word in before someone else talks me out of the room.  While interruptions of all kinds are pretty damn annoying, this one is probably the least abominable.

#2  On the lower end of the annoyance spectrum, there is also the person who just plain interrupts.  This person was very likely raised in a barn, or a family of uneducated and impolite hillbillies, because they really believe it is just an Okay thing to do.  Very likely, there is nothing behind their interruptions except for the fact that they have absolutely no manners or common sense.  I don’t have much to say about these people except for the fact that they need to get some formal training in social etiquette.

#3  The corporate executive who always has to cut you off to take a phone call.  This interruptor may or may not actually be a corporate executive, but they sure as hell think they are.  While I get that sometimes people do have important phone calls to take, nothing is more annoying than getting that “one second” finger held up in your face while a phone call is taken.  Every time this has happened to me, the phone call could have waited, reminding me of how little importance I and our conversation was to the interruptor.  The thing these interruptors can never seem to grasp is that just because you have a cell phone does not mean you always have to answer it.

#4  That asshole who is clearly not paying attention to you and then interrupts you.  This person is horrible on two levels:  first, they are not paying attention to you; second, they then interrupt you.  You can always tell this is happening because prior to interrupting you to talk about their own bull shit, they’ll periodically go “uh huh” .. “yeah,” while looking at something else (like a cell phone or television).  This is particularly frustrating simply because an interruption, alone, says that what you have to say is not important, but to precede that by clearly not paying attention – well, I have to ask why are we talking if I am that uninteresting to you?

#5  The worst of all interrupters is that complete douche that not only interrupts you, but often finishes your sentences and/or pays absolutely no attention to what you have to say the entire time while finishing what you have to say.  This is so goddamned annoying:  when people interrupt me and then finish my sentence for me.  The other day I was talking to someone about our plans in a few weeks and he kept interrupting me and finishing my sentence.  By the end of the fifteen minutes of this back and forth process rife with frustration, our plans were no more set in stone than they had been before the conversation even began – simply because he kept interrupting me and finishing my sentences with the opposite of what I was actually saying.  To this interruptor, it is not only a matter of “why are we talking if I am that uninteresting to you?,” but also a matter of “if you already know the answer, why the fuck did you ask?”

If you are a friend or family member of me, it is very possible that I am referring to you in this post, simply because so many of you do these things all the time.  To you:  please stop.  There are even a few of you that fall under #s 4 and 5, which begs I ask myself the question:  why the hell am I hanging around you?  I’m not suggesting that we all go out and tell the interruptors of the world that they are stark-raving douche bags – that would be uncouth.  I’m simply suggesting that we all consider whether we are doing one of these five interruptions and mend our ways.

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In a dog eat dog world, which one are you?

In 2007, I finished college (for the first time) with a bachelor degree in Political Science.  Being idealistic and young, I immediately signed up for the first job I could close to the heartbeat of local politics.  Working as a community organizer for a local non-profit, I soon found myself in the midst of all-things political, especially the corruption within.  I drew the line with that first job when I realized that I was fighting for healthcare when I, myself, was not being covered for health benefits under my current position.  I thought this seemed wrong and unfair, so I left that job feeling glad that the seedy dark side of local politics had not corrupted the moral character I knew I had.  But I was still naive and excited to be in the middle of (what seemed to be) the powers that wielded our lives, so I moved on to contract as a political consultant for a political action committee who shall remain nameless (not only because I know those bitches would sue me, but because they also don’t exist anymore so the name is moot).  While at that political action committee, though, my naive idealism finally took the dark turn to jaded cynicism.  To say I witnessed the ugly parts of local politics would be an understatement – some of the nastiest, most unethical things went on in front of me on a daily basis.  And worse, those bitches (as I will heretofore refer to them) took credit for every single thing I did.

It was towards the end of my tenure at those bitches’ political action committee that I realized they were doing this.  They had hired me to do all manner of tasks – from statistical analysis to planning fund raising events to voter education programming, to even building their website from the ground up.  But then one day I was at an event (that I had single-handedly orchestrated) and I noticed that not once was I acknowledged for my hard work in putting the event together.  As the days wore on, this incident began to bother me so I started to pay more attention when my bosses and I were with other politicos.  To my dismay, I realized that they were not only failing to acknowledge my hard work, but they were taking the full credit for every bit of it.  Telling one outright lie after another, I soon worried how I would even explain things because I had no idea what – exactly – I was to admit having done anymore when we were at public events – they took the credit for just that much.

When I mentioned this to my family and friends, I was confronted with a “everyone knows it’s a dog eat dog world” and “that’s the way it is in the working world, Heather”-attitude, and now (years later) I realize that it really, and truly, is.  In the adult/working world in which we all reside at some level, it all really boils down to whether or not you are one of two people:  the thankless worker or the do-nothing thief.  Even in local church communities, there seems to always be someone right around the corner just waiting to steal the credit or the work itself that you have done; that has already begun saying they did all the work before you have even finished it.  Worse yet, the Internet and computer technology has made it all the easier – for no longer is the old “I gotta’ have time to copy it in my own handwriting, McFly”-matter an issue.  Literally within minutes – seconds even – someone can steal your work and all the credit for it with ease of a simple “click” and “send.”

So it seems that the only way to overcome this is to become a credit-taker – a work-stealer – yourself.  I, myself, do not plan on doing this; but I know that I will probably always be stuck having others take credit for the hard work that I do – even in the most unprofessional, volunteer situations.  So the question that remains is simply:  why do it?  If there is always someone that will be standing around the corner just waiting to take the credit for the things you do – like those bitches at that political action committee – why do them?  I can see in a work environment, where your time and effort equals money which pays the bills, doing the bare minimum is an absolute requirement.  But why go above and beyond the call of duty if you are not going to take the credit for the work that others do, thereby leaving yourself open to be the thankless worker?  Why stay that extra hour or put in that extra pizazz in your quarterly presentation if it is going to be credited to someone else and get you absolutely nothing?

The days of workers in this country taking pride in their work are over.  With a destroyed economy, political unrest, and problems across the board with jobs, unemployment, social security, and health care, the notion of a loyal company that gives back to its loyal employees is gone.  Anyone who thinks that they are allowing themselves to be pushed around and taken advantage of as a thankless worker simply because they “take pride in their work” … well, they are nothing more than a complete and utter moron.  We all know at least one of those idiots, and we all know that they probably deserve to be pushed around for being so ridiculously stupid.  So unless you are going to be a complete douche rag and steal the work and the credit from others, all you are doing by going that extra mile is setting yourself up for unlimited frustration and/or ultimate stupidity as the thankless worker.  Nothing will come of it but stress and upsettedness.  Nothing will result but frustration.

So why bother?  I can think of a myriad of other more rewarding things we could all be doing with our time.  Like reading a book, or going to a movie.  At least there no one can take the credit for the happiness such recreation can bring.  In a dog eat dog world, maybe in the end the best thing to do is just be a cat.

Liar Liar, Pants on Fire

I find the amount people in this world that lie without even having to think about it to be absolutely astonishing.  And disturbing.  When I tell a lie – even a little one – I agonize over it for days.  I told a lie a few days ago and still cannot get over it; not becau.se I feel bad for the person or the consequence of the lie, but just that I truly believe lying is an awful thing to do.  There are quite a few ways a person can lie, but in all of them the only thing really going on is that the liar could care less about the person they are lying to.  Here’s why:

The first, most obvious, case of lying, is simply that the person telling the lie is says one thing while thinking something else.  I’m sure a lot of people would argue that a “little white lie” is okay, particularly when they are worried they will hurt the other person’s feelings.  A woman asks her husband:  “does this dress make my ass look like the size of Texas?”  Of course, the husband responds “no, honey … you look beautiful” while thinking it actually looks like Texas and New Mexico combined.  No harm, no foul right?  Except for the fact that the woman may be on her way to a job interview, or out to her ten year high school reunion.  By telling a lie to preserve his wife’s feelings, the husband could be potentially making a fool of his wife.

In this first case of lying as well, there is the malicious lie:  the lie that is told merely for the sake of intentionally deceiving another for the sake of the liar’s personal gain.  No matter how minor the offense (e.g. lying about taking a cookie for the sake of not getting in trouble), or major the issue at hand (e.g. lying about committing a crime), the intentional deceit of another is not to be taken lightly.  In the DSM-IV, this type of lying is listed in a myriad of mental illnesses, from narcissistic personality disorder to psychopathy, to even bipolar disorder.  A person that lies like this on a regular basis is always questionable in character.

The second case of lying is in omission, or rather leaving out information for the purpose of deceiving another.  It seems that so many people live by the adage “what they don’t know won’t hurt them;” however, again we are confronted with the same problem as in the first case of lying.  Who is to judge what information will or will not hurt a person?  As autonomous human beings in an extremely relativistic world, we are really the only ones who can judge for ourselves what is good and bad.

Now while I am sure there are plenty of cases in which information omitted has not harmed anyone, there are probably an equal number of cases where it has.  I can name off the top of my head a whole host of times in my own experiences that information left out has at the very least made life more difficult, at the most ruined entire relationships.

The final case of lying is when someone lies to themselves.  This is probably the most atrocious case of lying, for in lying to oneself you in essence double-lie.  This case of lying is probably the least damnable, for it is more a matter of the liar’s inability to accept reality; nonetheless, it is wrong.

The thing about lying is that if a person proves themselves to do it, and to do it frequently, there is absolutely no basis on which to trust them.  I can tell you that there are a lot of people I know that lie through their teeth, almost easier than they breath (and you know who you are).  Every time I catch one of their repetitive and often nonsensical lies, I trust them less and less.

From my days as a graduate student in philosophy, I am still plagued with the ramblings of Immanuel Kant – an 18th century philosopher who wrote with such verbosity my eyes bleed at the mere thought of ever reading him again.  The one thing I took to heart from Kant was that you should live your moral life according to the maxim (and I am paraphrasing):  act in a way that you would prefer others to act towards you.  In other words, that “do unto others” Golden Rule that seems to work the best when applied to most of life’s moral dilemmas.  To me, I want people to trust me and my word, just as I want to be told the truth at all costs.  So the old joke is “I Kant tell a lie,” or really I just cannot bring myself to lie without moral reserve because I know that if it were me on the other end, I would want to know the truth.

None of this would be a problem if you hadn’t…

A tradition in my family is to constantly overwhelm ourselves with all the mistakes we made in the past and/or how our decisions back then have affected our lives now.  It goes beyond that, for I do not have enough fingers and toes to count the number of people in my family – both the laws and the in-laws – who do absolutely nothing now out of a blind fear that they may make things uncomfortable for themselves in the future.  Big “sorry” goes out to all of them for being so blunt (and you know who you are), but it’s the truth, and no matter how much you try to avoid it, life is uncomfortable.

I’m not sure where this comes from.  Possibly it’s the good, Catholic system of guilt that pulses through our veins more strongly than even our platelets.  It’s probable that this is a generational thing, where such pedantic and childish behaviors are passed down from generation to generation so that no one even realizes they are doing anything wrong.  Perhaps it’s the fact that most of us are unable to accept responsibility for our lives now, and instead want to live in the past or the future so muddied with fear of screwing up that all we can do is loosely exist and go with the flow.  In any event, it’s a daily thing in my world and I am sure is for many of you as well, faithful blog followers.

But is that really a happy place?  For myself, and I have to assume the rest of you, it is not.

Let us overcome this mental midgetry once and for all.  Really, all of our lives would be much happier and much healthier if only we didn’t have to hear ourselves and our loved ones bleating like sheep “…none of this would be a problem if you hadn’t…”  There is no reason for it, and (to be honest) I think most of those that do such morally pompous sermonizing have no room to talk.  Nietzsche once said that those who pose judgments on both themselves and others are merely trying to cut down everyone down to size so that they may all be equally miserable in our death march through life.  This is, of course, an existential problem we all face – and while we could talk for days about why it is done, let’s focus on how to move on from it for now.

Step #1 Remove Your Head From Your Ass

That’s right!  I said it!  Now do it.  I think that one of the main reasons people make moral judgments and wallow themselves in the mire of the past is simply because they can’t look at any view except their own.  Particularly if someone is in a position s/he does not like and wants to blame others, the circumstance will always be viewed from the lens of “poor me, look at what I am stuck with.”  So remove your head from your ass.  Remember that you were an integral part in every decision that affected your life (unless, of course, we are talking about circumstances well beyond your control – most of which do not apply to people living in unoppressed nations).  Removing your head from your ass and looking at everything from the perspective of other people, and everyone involved – in addition to your own – is the first step toward positive change.

Step #2 Learn (Don’t Punish) From Your Mistakes

Yes, indeed – learn from your mistakes.  For example, I will never again eat at a restaurant in Los Angeles that is rated lower than an ‘A,’ for I have learned my lesson after spending two days with horrible food poisoning after a less-than-tasty bowl of grade B Pad Thai.  That doesn’t mean that you should avoid all circumstances that in any way resemble ones in the past.  That is a symptom of anxiety disorder in the DSM-IV, and frankly is just overkill.  Bring your past with you as a tool, not a weapon; and don’t punish yourself and others and refuse to live as a result of it.

Step #3 Stop Judging Others and Look for Actual Solutions

When you stop judging yourself, you need to (along with that) stop judging others.  Everyone is in essence living the same life, only with different variations of the story.  What is most important is that we all move forward and actually live that story.  Judging others and letting yourself join the ranks of the rest of the sheep with their incessant bleating of the “…none of this would be a problem if you hadn’t…” does not move anyone (including yourself) beyond the mire.  It’s like the economy in this country right now:  if only the politicians would stop trying to assess blame and point fingers, they would be able to all move forward with actual solutions.  And as was discussed above, no one really has room to be making morally pompous assertions anyway.

Step #4 Step #3 Look At Your Mistakes as the Best Things You’ve Ever Done and Allow Yourself to Live

I cannot tell you how many friends I have that refer to their children as “the best, little mistake I ever made.”  Unless you have a crystal ball or are a time traveler, you have no way of knowing what wonderful things can come as a result of the horrible mistakes you make now.  Allowing yourself to make mistakes, accepting that you are just as much of a failure at life as the next guy, and realizing that it is what you do with your mistakes that in the end makes a happy life, is perhaps the emotionally healthy thing all of us can do.  Life is all about screwing up big time.  It’s about being happy too, and without some of the gargantuan mistakes we made in the past we would have not had some of the opportunities we find ourselves in the future.  The old saying is that “the end of one chapter is just the beginning of another.”  If you cannot get past that chapter you seem to be stuck on, though, then you will never be able to fully experience the rest of the book.