Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Harrison, AR, USA
The Power of Complaint
The Power of Complaint
One bright day we were sitting on the bow of The Phoenix just wasting time, which as everyone knows is not a waste of time as long as you’re on a boat. A large cabin cruiser motored by in front of the dock, cabin-cruising much too fast and throwing a bow wake that rocked our world (which at the time was only 12 feet wide and 40 feet long, bow to stern). I complained to Roxanne that I thought such behavior was rude and that the boat skipper should have his ...
Nevermind what I said. The point is, Roxanne’s response was to suggest that if I complained loudly enough and often enough, perhaps I could have everyone in the world trained to proper behavior sometime before the sun collapsed on itself. “That’s nonsense,” I replied. “Just teaching other drivers not to loaf along in the fast lane is going to take me that long.”
“Well how about you, you ride the Jetski too close to the docks,” she remarked helpfully.
“That’s different,” I said, “at most the ski throws a six inch wake. Besides, I go just fast enough to not tip over with Sugar in my lap.” (Sometimes it’s OK to lie if it helps explain your position.) “But that guy in the cruiser, he’s just…”
“I don’t want to hear it,” groaned Roxanne, making her way inside (to fix lunch I hoped). Sugar and I stayed on the bow and watched the surf roll in – the very large surf from the very big boat.
“She doesn’t understand,” I explained to the dog, who looked at me with her beautiful, shining buttons-for-eyes, agreeing with me wholeheartedly and loving the Jesski unconditionally. “Maybe if I threw the ball for Roxanne, rubbed her belly and offered her an occasional steak bone, she’d see things as clearly as you do, girl.”
Stretched out on the deck in the warm sunshine, Sugar yawned, sighed deeply and closed her eyes, which I’m convinced is the way dogs express appreciation for human logic. I’m used to it – the yawning and sighing at least – from Roxanne and my friends. Although when I go into rant mode they don’t actually close their eyes so much as roll them, and somehow I don’t think it’s in appreciation.
I settled back in my deck chair and closed my own eyes for a few minutes. I thought about some of the complaining I’ve done, and realized just how much good has actually come of it.
Like the time I stood in line at DMV to get my license plate renewed while the clerk behind the counter chatted endlessly with the woman at the front. As I recall they were comparing recipes, but maybe I was just hungry. It doesn’t matter, all I know is the clerk was not discussing license plates with anyone. More to the point, she was not discussing mine with me.
I finally called a halt to the neighborly exchange by clearing my throat loudly and at some great length, with a whining sort of authority that can only be described as masterful. It worked like a charm. Although the clerk glared, some of the other folks in line smiled at me and winked. One lady even patted my behind real friendly like, as if to say “Good job!” I’m pretty sure it was a lady. I blushed with pride.
The line started moving pretty quickly after that. When I finally reached the front, it turned out to be time for the clerk to go on break – one of those unfortunate coincidences, of course, which in no way diminished my regard for the compelling effectiveness of strategic complaint.
I looked again at the cabin cruiser throwing the huge wake and was surprised to realize I could see the skipper clearly. He was not using his turn signal, I noticed that immediately. Furthermore he allowed his dog to bark all night and had his hat on backwards. He forgot to turn the light off when he left the room, hung the toilet paper with the end hanging behind the roll, and actually used the word “nucular” in a sentence. He was leaning on his shovel when he should have been paving the road, was playing rap music loud enough to shake the squirrels out of trees, and to top it off he was taking far too long to decide what he wanted from McDonald’s for lunch.
“Lunch,” said Roxanne as she sat down at the table. “If you want any, go fix yourself a plate.”
I pulled myself awake and decided not to complain that she hadn’t brought me one.
The Bad Ted
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