A new year, a new you. I mean a new you, not a new me. My new year has started incredibly similarly to how my year ended: with me enraged over minutia. It’s almost as though the ticking of the clock from 2015 to 2016 is an arbitrary delineation created by humanity that doesn’t actually indicate a new start to anything other than a Roman calendar change. In case you’re wondering if I still traffic in the bizarre in 2016, I spent the first night of the new year in a dingy hotel room in Fresno watching three-year-old Japanese wrestling.
I traveled a lot over the last two weeks and attended many group activities putting me into contact with a large swath of humanity and, more germane to the conversation, with parents of young children. This has given me a wide swath of experience with different styles of parenting. I am not a parent, and thus far, not qualified to comment on anyone’s parenting style.
However, I have logged over 36 years of being a human and I think I’ve interacted with enough diverse people and logged enough experience to judge people as successful humans. In my experience, a successful person is one who is aware that they are not alone on this spinning orb and take care and consciousness of the other people sharing this space. I’m not saying you have to make the right decisions all the time, just be aware. There are some things that are so basic to being a human being that if a person fails to acknowledge them–not even do them, know about them–or correct those who breach basic human empathy, like for example, teach a child the basic tenants of being a human, that person has failed being a human. That’s a bad person. Not evil, just bad, broken, missing a part, like whoever assembled that person didn’t follow the directions and threw out the allen wrench before assembling the particle board of that person.
If your child does not cover their mouth when they cough and you do not correct them, you are a bad person. Again, I don’t know thing one about raising a responsible citizen or better, a successful sociopath, but just as a citizen of the world forced to interact with other people, I know that if my coworker was in a meeting with and open mouthed hocked a diseased loogie on the middle of the conference table on the meeting notes of a client, I would gently suggest that civilized people cover their mouth when they cough. If I’m going for bonus points as a responsible citizen in the game of life, I would tell that coworker to cough into the crook of their elbow and not their hands that touch things. When you’re sick, aren’t you terrified of getting others sick? Don’t you feel awful if you make others feel awful?
Then who are these nihilists that allow their children to openly cough in a supermarket?
It wasn’t even that benign. I was subjected to a mother whose children, snot streaming out of their noses (there was two of them) were wiping active snot on the grocery carousel coughing on my produce. Hacking disease particulates in my direction and the direction of things I will be putting in my mouth. I quizzically shrugged at the mother who actively weaponized her disdain for my concerns by dismissively waving her hand at me. I looked at the cashier who gave me a look like this was routine to her. What is this world we live in? Of course, I burned that supermarket to the ground and sprayed the children with Nyquil and lice powder (I assume they also had lice).
But what do I know, I failed at humaning in my travels and will relay that story very soon.