Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Who Cares?

There are many things that are positive about growing older. People occasionally hold doors open for you. You can manage your own time and schedule without much thought to others. At last, you can call your own shots.

One of my personal favorite aspects about to growing older is to pick my own battles. I have always liked that phrase and have used it for many years. It's a nice way of saying "That is of no interest to me," "Why are you wasting my time," and/or "Who cares?"

"Who cares?" may seem a bit rude. But by the time we reach retirement we have all played the squeaky-clean role for decades. How many times have we told someone that we had a good time at a lunch/dinner/party when all we really wanted was to escape as quickly as possible? How many times have we suffered through boring conversations about someone's gall bladder surgery or the cost of their recent root canal when we (a) never liked that person anyway and (b) don't want to be in the same room with them?

If these circumstances have never happened to you, then lucky you. For most of us, the art of feigned interest wasn't easy to learn but fortunately can easily be forgotten.

Like most adults, I spent many years working with people I did not like. Truthfully, I would never have chosen to work with such shallow, unpleasant folks. I had no chance to screen them during the hiring rituals although they may have had some part in screening me. So how could I have known that they were not only obnoxious but would proceed to tell me everything that happened during every minute of their waking day?

The phrase "Who cares?" was brought mind over this past weekend when the media was constantly blathering about the Super Bowl game. I mean really, who cares? I stopped faking my interest in football when I got divorced in the 1970s, which is about the last time the big game was exciting. By that point I was tired of faking interest in all kinds of things -- his job, his cars, his bad judgment. Who cares?

The Super Bowl seems to be out of touch with the modern world. In order to make game day more exciting -- because, goodness knows, the game isn't -- the NFL (or whoever makes decisions about the events) has chosen to recruit big stars, sometimes antique performers who are most certainly hoping to revitalize their careers. Sometimes these appearances have been great. Sometimes not so much. Although I will admit a low level of interest in the game, I have been known to peek at half time to see what all the fuss is about. Curiosity and all that…

Then there is the build up about those silly commercials which are shown during the game. Sometimes these ads have become memorable, even classic with the passage of time. It seems that structuring an entire day of hoopla around obscure entertainers and commercials is a little pathetic. Commercials were designed to give us time to use the bathroom and refill our drinks. I do not watch commercials. Period. Let the public rave about some baby commercial afterward. If I had wanted to see babies, I would have had my own.

My "who cares" mentality extends well beyond sports. In fact, it has worked it's way into my conversation on a regular basis. Here is a sampling of the types of comments which will loosen my "who cares" retort:

"I had to wait at the post office for five minutes today. They were really busy."

"The girl cut my hair way too short. Just look at it."

"The power was out at the Super Bowl for 35 minutes. Can you imagine?"

"I ordered this steak medium and it's too pink! Gross."

People might be surprised to learn how often they make such statements aloud. Often such phrases are made entirely without thinking and don't generally warrant a response. Many people who hear such utterances say nothing. Silence always confirms that there is no need for anything intelligent to be said.

But the next time you hear a stupid comment like the ones listed here, try a different approach. Smile, shrug and respond, "Who cares?" It will stop the other speaker in his/her tracks and make them wonder what the heck just happened.

Hearing you speak those two words will do something more for you. They will empower you. You are actually expressing cynicism, which is not a bad thing. We could all benefit from a little more cynicism.

And everyone could benefit from a little more empowerment.

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