When push comes to shove, normal is boring |
More Lifestyles

When push comes to shove, normal is boring

Dave McElhinny

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.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.