Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Week in Seven Words #341

The express checkout machines are marvels of futility. People run their coupons back and forth to no effect, swipe cards that aren't read, feed bills that get spit out. A sign flashes. "Help is on the way," intones a ghostly female voice. Does anyone come?

As we pray on a Friday evening, an ice cream truck starts to crank out music, and we laugh.

People who are suffering don't need to hear that they should have had perfect foresight; that if only they'd acted perfectly and anticipated a dozen possible eventualities, they wouldn't be suffering.

An old fridge, speckled with mold, its belly full of warm food.

Sometimes when she talks she falls into a rhythm similar to stream-of-consciousness. It doesn't really matter who she's talking to; she just needs to empty her mind of stories and details. Sometimes she expresses a hope or wish, or she makes things up to give the impression that her days are full of excitement, accomplishments, and closeness to people.

Insults that contain a truth I'm squirming to avoid.

It hurts watching kids quickly give up on something because they're afraid of looking stupid.


Brian Joseph said...

I can relate to what you wrote for "automated". I am particularly inept when dealing with such machines. When help arrives it sometimes does so with a scowl :)

I also have seen it when "withdrawing" happens. This is indeed a sad thing.

Roderick Robinson said...

withdrawing. Ten out of ten for this observation but how about seeing an adult withdraw for the same reason? Should he/she know better? Or is the excuse that we get more sensitive to this
predicament as we grow older?

Recently I inexplicably decided to take singing lessons, aged eighty. Yet one of my terrors as a child was the prospect of being forced to sing in front of adults (which, incidentally, never happened).

Even now I recall with astonishment the memory of myself, totally untutored, during that first lesson in January 2016. Listening to my teacher sing exercises and then duplicating them. Normally I can find a hundred reasons - all to do with embarrassment - for running away from potential failure. Not on this occasion. It wasn't that I was prepared to fail, the thought never entered my mind.

The only reason I can offer is that somehow I assumed the role of obedient student without restraint. My life has changed. Last Monday I sang Pappageno and my teacher Pamina in Mozart's duet Bei Männern from The Magic Flute. Not well, you understand, but recognisably. And in a way that gave me pleasure. Go figure.

HKatz said...

@ Brian - for me it's unpredictable - suddenly a machine won't read a coin (where I see this happen most frequently, the store employees just have a resigned expression every time a machine malfunctions)

@ Roderick - it's wonderful that you're taking singing lessons. I've noticed some adults be afraid of embarrassment too, but other times the older people get the less they care about embarrassment. It's an interesting thought that one thing that changed for you was assuming the role of obedient student and stepping into it fully.

The Bookworm said...

Great words like always. I really like "withdrawing", it's sad but true.

Jay Carr said...

Commiserate is my winner for the week. I often also observe this phenomenon in its variant that runs something like "Oh, here's something vaguely similar to your problems that has happened to me... that I will now prattle on about for several minutes."

Commiserate also reminds me of a funny episode at work one time. Management had posted a job opening on the internet - with a typo. They used commiserate when they meant to say commensurate(!) I don't remember the exact text but something like "possessing a such & such degree and experience, or the candidate should possess commiserate skills" Haha. Actually, for that particular job, commiserate skills wasn't far from the truth either. :-)