How to make the world suck less

It smells like pee in here.  Pee and hopelessness.

I sat clutching my call number, scanning the room for the source of the sour smell.

I turned to my husband, nose wrinkled in disgust.

“Do you smell that?”

“What?”

“It smells like pee.”

“Oh, is that what that is? Maybe some kid couldn’t wait to go to the bathroom and went in the chair. “

This chair? Gross.

There’s nothing pleasant about sitting in these kinds of offices. The IRS, DMV, SSA, DHS, USPS, traffic court.  All the same.  Ambivalent, if not outright disgruntled, employees. Long lines. Unnecessary restrictions. I mean, why can’t you read in traffic court? No reading? Seriously?

They must be afraid that we’ll learn something.  Knowledge is power. And this, my friends, is why it is regulated by those determined to keep it for themselves.

I’d had to come to the IRS office to get a copy of my 2012 tax return transcript to send to the student loan company. They were trying to charge me $1500 a month to pay back my grad school loan.  Fifteen hundred dollars!  Ain’t nobody got time for that.

This experience offered its first sign of insult in the form of, well, a sign.  One-hour limits on free parking (at an office that averages a wait-time of 2.5 hours).  In fact, the IRS employs a whole person to sit on a scooter, hiding out in the paid parking garage, to monitor the visitors, presumably to note when your one-hour limit is up so that he can scoot over and slap a ticket on your windshield.  Want to avoid a ticket? Then you have to come out of the office every hour and move your car to another spot. Hopefully, your call number won’t come up while you’re outside, and the numbers aren’t called in order, so…

Upon entering the office, you have to go through security: three surly guards, a conveyor belt, and a walk-through metal detector.

My husband and I had been directed over to a long line in a narrow hallway to await permission to enter the actual waiting room, where we’d have to stand in another line to get a call number, sit down and wait some more.

“Hey! Hey!  Don’t sign the sign-in sheet! DON’T sign it”

I leaned out of line.  The security guard was essentially shouting at a woman who, instead of being clairvoyant enough to know that the sign-in sheet is for other guests of the building, not for those going to the IRS office, had stopped to sign-in.

Really, was all that necessary?  How was she supposed to know?  Why not a simple, “Excuse me ma’am. If you’re going to the IRS office, you don’t have to sign this”?

Moments later, I heard the same guard rudely inform another entering family that they could not bring in more than 3 electronic items.  “You gon’ have to take that back to your car.”

You’d think they were paying her to be an asshole.  If she had been polite, maybe coming to the IRS office wouldn’t suck so much.

I realized that this is what makes going to places like this so unpleasant. It’s not the place.  It’s the people.

People aren’t nice.

Maybe it’s because they think it would take too much to do it.  Maybe it’s because some are actually assholes.  There’s not much one can do about the latter.  Thank god & the universe for karma.

In response to the first possible reason, I offer you Exhibit A.

Benefit-Cost Chart

*cost-benefit ratio for “giving away money” is circumstantially dependent (i.e. giving a crackhead $5 may result in a BCR <1, while paying off the hitman who is targeting your family has a significantly higher BCR…at least on TV.)

Conclusion:  Being kind is an ideal investment.  Low cost. High potential return.

I want to live like my default setting is kindness and courtesy instead of cruelty or complaint.

In an effort to be kind, here are four things I’m going to do. On purpose.

  1. Smile at someone who looks serious, sad, worried or angry
  2. Pause and sincerely thank people with service jobs (servers, cashiers, receptionists, tellers… anybody who does stuff for me).
  3. Compliment a stranger (nothing creepy)
  4. Surprise somebody with something thoughtful

It’s tempting to say that one person can’t make a difference in a world full of stupid people.

Stop waiting on the world to change. You are the world. Change yourself.

Are you gonna try it? What are some other easy ways to show kindness?  Post below.

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3 thoughts on “How to make the world suck less

  1. Love your graph…there’s a great talk @ kindness by George Saunders that’s going around on FB that speaks nicely to this!

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