Monday, April 23, 2007

Can't complain...

I bitch. I often make aggrieved, self-pitying and sarcastic noises. Really, I don't have a life that warrants that kind of thing, so I've decided to attempt a cure - a week without complaining.

Let's look at the part of the definition I'm interested in...

com·plaint (kəm-plānt')
  1. An expression of pain, dissatisfaction, or resentment.
  2. A cause or reason for complaining; a grievance.
In my case "complaining" is closely linked with "whining."

whine (hwīn, wīn) pronunciation
v., whined, whin·ing, whines. v.intr.
  1. To utter a plaintive, high-pitched, protracted sound, as in pain, fear, supplication, or complaint.
  2. To complain or protest in a childish fashion.
  3. To produce a sustained noise of relatively high pitch: jet engines whining.
So not complaining is partly a matter timbre, maturity level and what I'm projecting to my fellow humans. For instance, I will allow myself to say, "The bus is twenty minutes late and I have missed my appointment." But I will not let my voice arc into that wheedling, why-me-god, nerve-shredding tone of voice, punctuated with deep, sad sighs that mark protest in a childish fashion against the inevitable.

I picked a week in which I have to attend a meeting all afternoon. This is a proposition (she said in an upbeat voice) that generally makes me hope to be struck seriously ill - just for the day. Meetings are, to my personality type, as church services are to a hyperactive three year old wearing scratchy underwear and forced to sit in a wooden pew. That is simply a fact. I say that calmly, evenly. Not in a sustained noise of relatively high pitch. Nothing unduly protracted.

In spite of loathing of the average business meeting, my deportment, lately, is impeccable due to the fact that I've learned to: A) Shut my pie hole and B) when my eyes glaze over and I am beginning to look forward to counting paint stains, I take notes. Occasionally, in sheer desperation, I industriously record every word said. This yields the bonus of being able to actually report back on the meeting when I return to work, to appear to have cared about the content of the meeting. Sadly, though, this is often not sustained. It morphs into observation and free-writing. If someone comes in hauling a towering ego problem or an advanced case of anal retention they are likely to become fodder for the creative/escape impulse and I use them for writing practice - meaning that I have to read my notes aloud to my coworkers and boss and never, ever show them to anyone.

This week though, I am confined to facts. Just the facts, ma'am. Unembroidered and without opinion. She is wearing red shoes. His tie is loud enough to break the sound barrier. No. No. Scratch the tie thing. If it gets really bad, I'll draw or count the number of words in every sentence spoken.

Right after this week's meeting, I have computer training. It is necessary. It is good. I am supposed to be grateful for it. I will behave and take notes. Real ones. I will smile and look interested. I will use my company manners.

Then, on the way home, I will jam on headphones and play soothing music at a volume that could be heard by the dead. Oh. And I won't look around the bus, either.

Wish me luck. Better yet - choose a bad habit of your own (not blogging. NOT blogging) and swear off for a week. I figure we'll all have lots of material after seven days...