Tuesday, November 18, 2014

orange marmalade is the secret to happiness

To be clear: my reduced blogging isn't because I've stopped thinking of things to blog about, or stopped trying to write; I just think all of my stuff is no good. I have about three dozen bits sitting in my brainstorm doc I maintain, all of them okay-ish, none really perfect. I think it may be that I feel less pressure to publish, and/or my quality bar has jumped.

In order to counteract that, I'm going to be boring today, and ignore how unfunny it is.

A story.

I once served a church mission in Argentina, and at one point I was assigned to room and work with a man named Pablo. Pablo remains one of the most interesting figures I've ever encountered in my life. He grew up in the slums of southern Argentina, and had tattoos all over his arms, which he would always keep covered with long-sleeved shirts under any condition. He was about 6'2", tall for an Argentine.

He and I worked together for about a week before we walked outside one night and a dark figure approached us with a hand in his coat pocket, pointing an object at us. He motioned for us to get against the wall and give him all of our money. I, being the sissiest person who ever walked those streets, immediately backed up, hands up, and prepared to give him my wallet. Pablo, however, started advancing.

"Do you have a gun?"

"Yeah, of course I have a gun!"

"Well, show it to me!"

"I'm not going to show you my gun!"

"Well, SHOOT! SHOOT!"

And with that Pablo rushed the dude. The man saw six feet two inches and about two hundred and twenty pounds of very angry Argentine, and turned tail and ran as fast as he could. Pablo returned moments later. I of course was scared out of my mind, having prepared to die.1 In order to help assuage my fears, Pablo then told me it was the worst performance he had seen in his life, and he knew this because HE USED TO BEAT AND ROB PEOPLE HIMSELF. He spent the rest of the evening telling me about how he would jump people, and I spent the rest of our time together trying to stay on his nice side.

So this is the man who would steal my food. Constantly. Seeing as how I would never stand up to him (see: sissy), I had to figure out how to still eat with a thieving roommate. And this is where the life lesson kicks in.

See, I bought orange marmalade one day as a joke, and the weirdest thing happened: it didn't magically disappear from the fridge. Pablo thought it vile. I discovered that if I restricted my grocery purchases to things he hated, I'd save money.

And therein lies your lesson today. Find things that people dislike, and learn to love them.2

I went through a round of performance reviews at work a few weeks back, and the common thread was, "Chris does the stuff nobody else wants to deal with." It's because I found some things in life that nobody else likes, and learned to love them.

Today as I walked out of the office, I picked up the last drink in the fridge: my favorite. It's always available because nobody else likes it:)

1. In my defense, a good friend of mine was shot in the back a few blocks from there months later. He recovered fully.
2. To be clear: this lesson is in no way applicable to dating and/or my marriage.