Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This Is The Kind Of Thing I’m Talking About

I make a lot of comments about the various ways in which the Universe likes to fuck with me.
This isn’t something I believe is happening, of course, it’s just a rhetorical device I use to apply a patina of humor to the mundane – albeit irritating – events of my day-to-day existence.
I’ll leave it up to you to judge the relative success of my use of this particular device.
In any case, as much as I decry the way in which “the Universe” likes to screw me over, I don’t actually believe that

1. The Universe is not conscious or intelligent and therefore is not actually capable of any sort of direct action, either beneficent or malevolent
2.  It would actually be interested enough in my life to take any sort of direct action either for or against me

That said, there are times when it does become difficult to avoid giving in to an actual belief in my own rhetorical construct.
Today provided some perfect examples.
I’m still having trouble with my lenses, so as I’ve yet to see the eye doctor* I’ve been wearing my glasses when I need to see things that are farther away from me than my computer screen.  While driving, for example.
My glasses have magnetic clip-on sunglasses, and I also have a pair of prescription sunglasses.  This morning when I was leaving for work I neglected to grab either the clip-ons or the sunglasses, but I decided that I didn’t really need them, given that I was on my way to work well before the sunrise and it was supposed to rain all day.
I did, however, remember to take $500 in cash with me (the result of saving up some of my casino winnings from last summer and cashing in all of my change at the end of the year**) with the intention of stopping at the bank and depositing it on my way home.
In any case, I made it though the workday, and, as predicted, it rained the whole time, and the sky was a dreary, wretchedly gray affair the entire time.
Stopping at the bank, I decided that, as I needed some cash for various and sundry purposes, I would hold onto $50 and deposit the remaining $450.  It was at that point that I discovered that rather than $500 I had $450.  I wasn’t overly concerned, as I assumed (correctly) that I had just neglected to grab the other $50 when I hastily took the money off my dresser in the morning.  So I deposited the $400.  It’s worth noting that the money was all in the form of $100 and $50 bills.  As I had to stop at CVS to pick up a few things, rather than breaking the $50 at the bank**, I figured I’d just pay with cash at CVS and the resulting change would be sufficient for my purposes.
Unfortunately, I needed more than I had originally thought, and the total came to just over $45.  So I paid with my check card and decided that I could also stand to stop and pick up a few things from the grocery store, so I’d break the $50 there.
I went through the self-checkout and my total was a mere $13.  $37 in cash would certainly be enough for what I needed the cash for (buying drinks/snacks/lunch at work for the remaining two days in which I’ll be going in to work, as I’m working from home on Friday).
This plan was foiled by the fact that the bill accepter at the self-checkout won’t take anything larger than a $20 bill.  So, not wanting to stop anywhere else, I opted to use my debit card and got cash back instead.
Here’s where the glasses part comes into play.
While all around me the sky was still dark and ominous, directly ahead of me the clouds had parted just enough to ensure that I would be driving directly into the sun without sunglasses.
Seriously, it was as if the sky was a venetian blind and the Universe had pried open the slats just enough to let the sun shine directly into my uncovered eyes.
Behind me and on either side of me?  Nearly pitch black with dark, heavy clouds.  In front of me?  The brightest display of January sunlight imaginable.
To bolster the case for the Universe actually being out to get me, the sky closed back up as soon as I got home.
This is the kind of thing I’m talking about.
Granted, these are extremely minor inconveniences, but they seem so oddly specific, and they’re just two examples of the whole death by a thousand cuts approach the Universe seems to take when dealing with me.
And yes, these are all petty, #firstworldproblems concerns, but here’s the thing:  that’s all part of the Universe’s (entirely fictional) evil scheme.
”Ha!  I can do all of these things to make Jon’s life miserable in all of these inconsequential ways, and even in the aggregate, over time, his complaints about them will still come across as petty whining and make him appear as though he lacks perspective.  ‘The sun was in your eyes?  Oh, boo-fucking-hoo!  Some people have cancer!  Get some perspective, you entitled ass!’  I mean, look at him; he’s got an extra $500 just lying around and he’s still complaining!  No one will feel sorry for him!  I win again!  BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!”
(Yes, that’s how the Universe laughs.  It also sits in a chair like a Bond villain, idly stroking the pure white cat resting in its lap.)

*To make matters worse, while I lack the Universe’s foresight, upon reflection, I can see how I was complicit in the Universe’s schemes.  I should have taken the precaution of bringing sunglasses despite the forecast, or more to the point, I should get over my antipathy for my eye doctor and get my eyes checked out.  But of course that will lead to more irritations in the form of having to go to the eye doctor at all – which in and of itself pisses me off – and most likely having to go in for multiple follow-up visits, during which he’ll undoubtedly find some other reason to keep me coming back so that he can try to upsell me on things.  The problem is that I have an unusual relationship with causality.  Any decision I could make exists in a quantum superposition in which it is both right and wrong until I actually make it.  At that point it becomes wrong, and the other one becomes right.  This is true regardless of which decision I actually make.  It’s a Heisenbergian take on “Damned if you don’t, damned if you do.”  This is best illustrated by the, “I’m allergic to Schrodinger’s Cat regardless of whether it’s dead or alive” thought experiment.
**See above where I admit that I am often an unwitting accomplice to the Universe.

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