Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Maybe I'll Never Take Anything Seriously

(but Ari loves me anyway) <--- Ari typed that.  Then he said, "I'm helping.  It's better already."  It was originally in the title bar, but I moved it down here.

Lately I've wondered if I'll ever take anything seriously.  I've had an Etsy store for almost a year now, and I've realized most people take their Etsy really, really seriously.  I thought I'd start taking mine more seriously once I was doing it full-time, but no.  Most sellers know just how to make their products and general life philosophies sound enticing.  I'm more like, "Eh, I sell soap. Buy some if you want." Maybe because as a customer, that's really all I expect. As a matter of fact, if someone were honest enough to say that, I'd applaud their honesty and buy soap from them immediately, if I had any money (which I don't, but that's beside the point). I guess that's the difference between me and the rest of the world.  I just can't manage to take things seriously.

There's certainly a dark side to taking things seriously.  I'm not using that as an excuse--I never took things seriously even before I discovered the dark side.  But when you work in retail and witness a middle-aged woman have a meltdown because your store doesn't have a box to hold her three-foot-tall Santa Claus figurine, you start to think, "Wow.  I'm really glad I don't take things that seriously."

That's probably why I never excelled as a retail clerk.  As a sales clerk, you're supposed to bombard the customer with cheer and goodwill the moment they walk in the door.  "Good morning/evening, sir/ma'am.  How are you?  May I help you find anything today?"  And if they show any interest whatsoever in talking to you, you're supposed to keep the small talk going.  "What brings you to Asheville?  Are you enjoying your trip?"  If I walked into a store and someone recited that complex litany to me, I'd suspect they were a cyborg.  I treated all my customers the way I'd like to be treated--I said "Hello" when they walked in and then ignored them unless they needed anything.  By my employer's standards, I was a mediocre clerk.  By my own standards, I was the greatest sales clerk ever. 

It's not just retail, though.  There are lots of other things I don't take seriously:

 - My personal appearance
 - My bank account balance
 - This blog
 - My other blogs
 - My career, or lack thereof
 - Household problems

…Just to name a few. 

People never seem to understand my inability to be serious.  Today my landlord was here fixing our DirecTV, and he asked me how long it had been since we lost our satellite signal.
"Two weeks?" I answered sheepishly.
"Two weeks!" he exclaimed.  "Why didn't you call me?"
"Well… you know… I was out of town for a while, and… I guess we just didn't get around to it until now."
The thing is, it had been even longer than that.  Our satellite stopped working the week we moved in, which was over a month ago.  I guess a normal person who takes things seriously would have responded by thinking, "I deserve satellite service and I'm calling the company right away!"  Ari and I, on the other hand, just think, "Eh, no TV.  I guess we'll just read."

Sometimes I do wonder if I should take things more seriously, like when I recently applied to grad school.  I decided in October that I wanted to go to grad school.  I knew I would first have to take the GRE, so I studied for two weeks and took it in November.  I got my scores back and saw they were decent, so I visited some of my professors from two years ago to see if they'd remember me and write letters of recommendation.

It occurred to me then that most people don't apply to grad school so nonchalantly.  Talking to my former professors about my "plan" was almost embarrassing.  I'd originally planned to apply to only one school that I really, really wanted to go to, which happens to be notoriously selective.  I guess me applying to this school is the equivalent of an overweight, balding man in his forties hitting on a nineteen-year-old model.  Then, I got a blanket promotional e-mail from another school I'd never considered before, and I thought, "Eh, I'll apply there too."  Nonetheless, my professors agreed to write letters for me, so I moved on to the final step:  throwing together a writing sample several days before the application deadline.  One application was due Sunday, and I submitted it at midnight that night.  The other had to be postmarked yesterday, so I dropped it off at the post office at 4:30 PM.  I was so proud of myself for finishing my applications, Ari took me out to dinner.

Rest assured, my lack of seriousness does not reflect a lack of enthusiasm.  If either of those schools accept me this spring, I will be tremendously happy.  I'm always thrilled to make sales on Etsy.  And I did really miss having TV.  Ultimately, I guess not taking anything seriously is just a survival mechanism.  Maybe I should be glad to have such strong built-in defenses.  Taking things too seriously causes stress, which is generally bad and will kill you.

The End.

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