Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Violating the Ethic of Reciprocity - April 24, 2012

The Ethic of Reciprocity, aka the Golden Rule, states that “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.”

I hate to be a pessimist in life, because I think it’s a waste of time and energy and causes far too much stress, all of which are unquestionably unhealthy.  I’m the kind of guy that tries to make lemonade out of lemons, and if those lemons happen to be rotten, I’ll make them into compost and grow more lemons with them.  But when it comes to the Golden Rule, I can’t help but notice the fallacies of others.  Typically I’ll just attempt to ignore them, but I realized today that here, on my seldom-read blog, I have an outlet to share with the world (or the ten people who read this) my biggest pet peeve—people who wantonly disregard the Golden Rule as if it were less important than laws regarding jaywalking or removing the tags from linens that have yet to be purchased.  In other words, it’s like people just don’t care about others any more, and it drives me batty!

My first vignette is a subtle one.  The picture below is of a counter in a public restroom.


I won’t say where it is—although it is not at my home—but it is one I use fairly often.  Here you can see that someone has splashed so much water outside of the bowl of the sink that it has pooled around the edges of the counter.  The countertop is not big at all, and unfortunately it is the only stable, raised surface in the entire restroom, so if a person—say me, for example—has to place a gym bag or clothing onto this surface while changing, said person must wipe up someone else’s mess or risk getting his or her clothes wet.

This pool of water appears here about as often as I use the restroom.  I will not name names to protect the innocent/guilty, but I have a rather strong suspicion of who I think the culprit is.  I cannot fathom why he/she creates these messes (OK, I can, but I won’t go there), but I often wonder if his/her bathroom at home looks like this.  If that’s the case, well that’s fine and dandy—and gross, but this is a public restroom that others use.  When I use a restroom, I try to be as courteous as humanly possible.  If I get counters wet, I wipe them clean with a paper towel.  If I leave any sort of evidence, I make sure it’s gone before I leave.  I think most people tend to do this.  Most of us, I hope, abide by the Golden Rule.  It’s the ones that don’t that really irk me.

This example is quite paltry compared to some restrooms, and we’ve all seen them.  Water everywhere.  Bodily fluids and other unspeakables.  It completely perplexes me why people must be absolute slobs in public restrooms.  I’m sure many of us have had jobs where we’ve been required to clean a restroom, and it is utterly disgusting to have to wipe up someone else’s mess.  There are times when I go to use the restroom and see that someone has just totally obliterated a toilet in filth, and while it’s one of the most putrid sights one could imagine, those people aren’t even the ones that offend me the most.  Sometimes accidents happen.  Sometimes people play pranks or are just total dolts looking to get a rise out of others.  In cases like that, where there has been obvious attention put into the fecal matter at hand, well, to them I just say touché.  Nice one.  You’re a jerk.

No, it’s the people who unknowingly and inadvertently make messes that bother me the most.  You live in a society where there are other people—not just you.  For you to go into a restroom, use the facility, create a mess, and then leave without taking a casual glance at whether or not you left any evidence—it just proves to others that you’re an uncaring and insolent butthead.  It’s not difficult to clean up after yourself.  It’s not difficult to just glance back before you leave.  But no, somehow you just manage to ignore it.  It’s people like you, the ones who are seemingly unaware of the Ethic of Reciprocity, that make it very difficult for me to be a happy, go-lucky optimist when I have to deal with your inattention to detail.

As I’m sure this will be the first of many of these little posts, I’m going to leave you all with an obvious query.  If it were you who had to place items on top of this counter after I made this mess, how would you feel?  Not too happy?  No, I didn’t think so.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lucky 7 Writing Game/Chain

Lucky 7

So I was tagged in this Lucky 7 game by J. Whitworth Hazzard, @zombiemechanics on Twitter and one of my favorite flash fiction friends/adversaries.  This is a fun little game, it seems, providing a sneak peek into a writer's raw, unedited mind.

Here's how it works:

1.  Go to page 7 or 77 in your current manuscript.

2.  Go to line 7.

3.  Copy the next 7 lines/sentences down.

4.  Tag 7 other authors.

My current manuscript is in the very early stages, and I only have two full chapters thus far.  However, I do have a page 7, so here it is.


She then saw the remains of the cow, highlighted in her headlights like some sort of twisted Halloween decoration, its head visible with dead, glassy eyes while the rest was a mangled clump of intestines and blood.  She had a strong stomach, but she averted her eyes nonetheless.

“Just saw the cow, Bobby.  Looks like a bear or bobcat or something got it.”

“You want me to come out?”  He sounded concerned.

“Just hold tight.  I’ll let you know.”

She stopped her car on the road and flicked on her heavy flashlight, shining it around the pasture.  None of the other cows appeared to be out, which was good, but how had this one gotten all the way out here?


So there we have it.  It just happened to fall on a rather gory part of my new novel, which I have yet to give a name.  I'm also still working on the direction I'll take with it--whether it will be more of a horror novel or science fiction or thriller.  Like I said, I've only finished two chapters!

As for my seven authors, I've decided to contact them directly rather than post here.  Hopefully that's not against the rules, but few people read this thing anyway!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Waiting? Wait, why?

So I submitted Terminal Restraint, my fourth novel, to a slew of agents over the course of the past week.  Now I'm playing the waiting game.  They all say it takes 4-8 weeks or so to get a response, and probably all of them will reject it.  I'm not being pessimistic; I just know that my chances are only marginally better than winning the Mega Millions.  Of course, I did buy $5 worth of Mega Millions tickets, and when they called the numbers, I chided myself for doing so.  But at least it didn't cost me anything to submit my novel, so even though I'm expecting several rejection letters, at least I had fun writing it.

After I sent them out, though, I realized that it was really quite silly to wait.  I mean, we spend far too much time waiting for things to happen.  We wait for coworkers or clients or vendors to send us reports or proposals.  We wait in line at the supermarket.  We wait in cars at stop lights.  We wait wait wait wait wait.  Aren't you sick of waiting?

I guess some waiting is unavoidable.  You can't exactly plow down all the cars in front of you at a stop light or mow over all the people in line at the supermarket.  What you CAN do, though, is go to the supermarket at perhaps a different time when it is less busy.  Or take that leap and use the self-checkout lines that are available in most major supermarkets.  I find it amusing when I see someone with four or five items waiting in line because they are afraid to use those things.  Everyone has touch-screens anymore.  Why wait?

We are not dogs.  We shouldn't have to just sit when our master says so.  I mean, yes, abide by all of your local, state, and federal laws, but don't sit on the couch waiting for something good to happen and complaining about how much your life sucks because you are poor or fat or ugly or lonely or whatever flaw it is you think you have.  Stop wasting your life away waiting and get up and do something about it!

Don't wait for your wife to cook supper.  Cook it with her!  Don't wait for your kids to get better grades in school.  Help them out!  Don't wait for the economic recovery and a Republican president to come along and give you a raise and lower your taxes.  If you're struggling, do something with yourself that's fun, rewarding, and puts a little extra money in your wallet.  Try your hand at being a package handler for UPS or FedEx--you'll lose that fat belly and earn a paycheck at the same time.  Take a part-time job as a pizza delivery driver.  They make good tips!  Don’t want to because you are too tired?  Go run a half-marathon—or even a 5k if you are a couch potato—then you’ll know what it’s like to be tired.

Just don't sit around and wait unless you absolutely have to.  You only have one life to live.  Why spend it waiting?

As for me, I'm already three chapters into my fifth novel.  And when I finish that one and begin submitting it to agents, I'll then be three chapters deep into my sixth.  I won't sit around waiting.  Waiting for 5 o'clock.  Waiting for the weekend.  Waiting as time passes me by.  I’ve done way too much of that already.