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When push comes to shove, normal is boring | TribLIVE.com
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When push comes to shove, normal is boring

Are you the type of person who flows through life, taking things as they come and enjoying the journey with a healthy view of the world? Or are you somebody who overthinks every situation until you’ve dissected all aspects of each engagement, transforming a normal encounter into a squall of uncomfortable turmoil?

I’d like to tell you that I march through each day with calm introspection. But I’d be lying. Over the years I’ve worked to improve, but when it comes right down to it, I’m a bit on the neurotic side.

So I have taken a few examples from my own life (all of which have occurred in the past few months) to share three scenarios to help you decide which side of the fence you fall on.

• Nontheft guilt: Have you ever walked into a store to purchase something, discovered they don’t have it, then turned and walked back out without buying anything? I can’t be the only one who holds his breath as I exit, half expecting an overzealous security guard to tackle me. It’s an odd phenomenon because you are totally innocent of any wrong doing, but since you didn’t go through the checkout line, it feels as though you are committing some sort of violation. You find yourself walking slowly and carefully, knowing any sudden movement might set off an alarm. You even consider putting your arms above your head and doing a twirl to prove that you are not some fiend with a bunch of stolen items in your pants.

• Collection plate shame: How about at church? Have you ever put your weekly offering in at an earlier service or before church for some reason and then when the collection plate comes by your section during the service, you find yourself feeling like you need to explain yourself to the usher, maybe even speaking loudly enough for the people around you to hear.

“The reason I don’t have an envelope is because I tithed already today. It was a pretty solid amount. You can check the box if you don’t believe me.”

• It wasn’t me: What about this? You’re in an elevator or enclosed public space and another person in there with you is having some intestinal distress. But then that person leaves the space and a new person enters. Now, you are trapped in this horrible smelling place with somebody you don’t know at all and will likely never see again, yet you still feel compelled to explain that the wretched odor is from somebody who just left and that you most certainly are not the culprit. Doing this you realize that it’s making you seem even more guilty, so then you ramp up the dialogue in this forced assemblage, denying that it was you until you’ve frightened this other person to the point where they move away from you and subtly remove the safety device on the top of their pepper spray.

So, how’d you do? If you answered “no” to these questions, then congratulations, you have a healthy outlook on yourself and the world around you. Good for you. I’m glad your life is all rainbows and unicorns. You probably sleep well at night in your bland little world, free of angst, trepidation and outlandish experiences.

However, if you answered “yes” to two or more of these, then welcome to the club. But this isn’t something to mourn. I say you should bask in your weirdness. Normal is overrated. Afterall, if I was normal, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

Dave McElhinny is the North Bureau Chief for the Tribune-Review. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @DaveMcTrib.


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