Guru Fieldwork: Anthropology

garbageIt was a Tuesday
A day like another other day
I left my hermit space
For a nation in decay

I know, I know! I deserve what I get when I leave the house. Stepping out into the world is exactly like asking for it.

I can’t help it. Stuff happens. I guess it’s all my fault for observing it. If I was oblivious then maybe it wouldn’t bother me.

But what has been seen cannot be unseen. Leaving the house is where the empirical process of data collection begins.

Sometimes, rarely, it works in my favor. Like two weeks ago when we went to the movies. I had to pee so I walked into the auditorium-sized men’s room. Along one wall was a line of 20 urinals. I picked my spot and made a beeline. Along the way I spotted the guy. You know, the one asshole who exists in every social situation. He was standing at a urinal, doing his business with one hand, and talking away on the iPhone in the other. Millennials call that multitasking. I call it being a dill hole.

That’s when The Miracle happened in the blink of an eye.

Clackity clack clack clack.

The iPhone got dropped. And there it went! Zoom zoom! Clackity clack all the way across that pee-covered bathroom floor. The guy stood there, still holding his other device, and lamely watched it go.

It just goes to show that – sometimes – good things can happen. It was pure serendipity and, for one brief moment in time, I forgot all about pain. I was in the moment.

Last night I left the house again but the empirical results were decidedly not as fun. Not by a long shot.

We went to the movies. Again.

I hadn’t eaten all day so on the way we pulled into the fast food restaurant for a wee snack. I’m ashamed to admit that it was Taco Bell. One of my bucket list desires has always been getting taken out t-bone style in a traffic collision on my way to Taco Bell. I like to imagine that quintessential moment when, upon reaching the pearly gates, St. Peter stops me and asks, “How did you come to be here, my son?”

“Crunched big time on the way to Taco Bell!”

“Please, step aside. It’s all going to be okay. Step right this way.”

Anyway, there I sat in the drive-thru like an idiot waiting for my crunchy tacos. Like an idiot I was observing and watching. Using my eyes. Up ahead the car I had followed throughout the drive-thru experience getting ready to exit the lot. It had pulled over near the goodbye trashcan.

I watched intently as a woman leaned out of the passenger seat, her hands clasping a giant clump of assorted fast food clutter. She reached towards the can and made a pushing motion. Then the entire clump dropped to the ground. She shoots and it’s nothing but air! There it sat in a surprisingly large pile.

She disappeared for a moment then reemerged with another fantastically-sized clump. Obviously, for this particular car, it was garbage day.

This clump met with more success and quickly disappeared into the friendly receptacle which replied, in words written on the side, “Thank you.”

The car then sped away.

There was no effort to pick up what had dropped. The people in that car did not give a shit. These were assholes who didn’t care and, worse, deliberately were trying to simulate the garbage dumps of third-world countries right in my neighborhood. And there I sat, thinking to myself, why do I have to see such things?

Later that same evening, after the movie was over, I went back to the bathroom where I had witnessed the iPhone miracle. Lightning did not strike twice. Instead, in self defense, I saw guys finish at the urinals, take a step back, zipping up the business, then power walking out of the room. There was no hesitation, nary a glace at the line of sinks where they could at least pretend to wash their hands.

I’ve been made fun of a lot in my time on this planet because, like Vulcans, I abhor all physical contact. High on this list is the primitive custom of the handshake. When people try to stick a glad hand in my direction I generally recoil in disgust. On the rare occasion I deem it necessary, I will engage in the practice by extending my right hand and keeping it as limp as humanly possible.

“Come on, man! You call that a handshake? Be a man!”

No, I don’t call it a handshake. I call it repulsive. And I take pride in being limp. It’s my silent form of protest, which is my right. It’s the natural response of a life form that has sadly given in to societal pressure and feels pretty shitty about himself for doing so. Now you can feel free to infer all sorts of assumptions based on the strength of my handshake pertaining to my integrity, character, manliness (whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean) and honesty. You flaming turd of an idiot.

I pondered this and things like pee-covered hands as I followed one of the non-hand-washers out of that movie theater restroom and watched him meet up with his wife. Lucky lady, I thought, as they joined hands and walked off into an ammonia-tainted sunset.

Why does leaving my house have to be a painful excursion in anthropology every damn time? Why do I have to see?

4 responses

  1. Snoring Dog Studio | Reply

    Oh, dear. The humanity, ugh, the humanity. I feel your pain. I really have to shut my brain off when I leave the house. I keep trying to tell myself that for every slob out there, there’s a considerate human being trying to be sensitive and aware.


    1. Thanks! Shutting off the brain is a good idea. I find that difficult, though. For example, I find myself studying the moves of other drivers, playing a 3D game of chess, so that when they enter my sphere I have historical data on their actions. It’s that data, and not the situation, that dictates my responses. Perhaps I’m far too observant for my own good.


  2. I’m amazed at how many people post things like “I dropped my phone in the toilet and now it won’t work” — STOP USING YOUR PHONE FOR TWO FRICKIN’ MINUTES!!


    1. LOL! It’s almost enough to make me believe in karma. Almost. I love the poetic justice of that, though. But who the hell am I? When I go to the movies I leave my iPad at home.


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