Sunday, January 16, 2011

Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me Me


Main Entry: so·lip·sism Pronunciation: \ˈsō-ləp-ˌsi-zəm, ˈsä-\Function: nounEtymology: Latin solus alone + ipse self  Date: 1874: a theory holding that the self can know nothing but its own modifications and that the self is the only existent thing; also : extreme egocentrism

At a seminar the other day, there were about 30 of us in a room, listening to an instructor and following along with an overhead projection of a web page. The instructor was wearing a portable microphone and speaking to us on a subject in which we were all interested, purportedly: we had signed up to take the class. It wasn't one of those mandatory trainings (I remember one of them, some years ago, in which we were advised to watch for the tell-tale signs of workplace suicide. Numbered among them was the oral consumption of Wite-Out. I am not kidding) that we all have to attend now and again; we signed up for this. 

Had this been a cheesy detective novel, this would be the point at which "Suddenly, two shots rang out." Well, this is cheesy, but the only thing ringing was some woman's cell phone. This is to be expected nowadays, but what you don't expect is the woman answering the call as if she were all alone in the room and we weren't even trying to hear the instructor over her.

She started doing this thing where she cupped the end of her wrist around the cell to create a sort of sound tunnel out of her hand, to amplify her words, some of which are reproduced here:"Well, did you try to open it with Adobe?""Where is Phil?""I'm at a training, go ahead, it's all right...right click on it and what happens?..."This happens every time we open."

I was considering going outside to look for some clay and straw to build her an Adobe.hut so she could work in solitude. The woman to her left was craning and straining to hear what was being said in class, but with the singular devotion to duty that has clearly propelled Ms Cell to the middle of the heap, Ms Cell kept right on talking, murmuring, shaking her head, and knitting her brow in furrows of concentration. Even when we took a break, she sat at the helm, Capt. Smith on the bridge, directing the destinies of her staff.

It struck me that no one beside the woman next to her, whose opportunity to learn was being severely compromised, even paid much heed to this exhibition. The teacher surely was aware of it, but went with that laissez-faire attitude that drives me so crazy: let people do what they want to do, don't kill the buzz, don't be honest. Go ahead, talk in class, take phone calls during movies, pull onto highways without so much as looking to see if there's a opening for your car. Just go go go, do your thing, and don't look back, or around, to see if your thing is bumping into anyone else's.
Oscar, Oscar, Oscar

“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.”

--Oscar Wilde

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