Will Unwound #839: “Sunday Meditation: Sartre’s Definition of Hell”August 25, 2013
Today, was an unusual day for me. I had a
satisfactory enjoyable conversation with a computer. It was time to make the call to my prescription service provider to get refills on the two medications (blood pressure and cholesterol) that keep me alive. I usually dread this because their computer is either hard of hearing or cannot understand my voice. So unpleasant are these encounters that often I plead to speak to a human being. This totally confuses the computer and makes matters worse. Today the computer was quick, efficient, and pleasant…so pleasant that at times I thought I was talking to a person on prozac posing as a computer. When the transaction was over, it occurred to me that life would be very nice if everyone was as nice as that computer.
People really can be a pain in the neck – they are emotional, egocentric, erratic, and annoying. Sarte said that Hell is other people. This is the reason many people have dogs in their life. I could never understand dog love. Dogs are smelly, dirty, and they bite people. Who would want such a creature in their life? Over and over dog owners say they put up with the smell, the poop, and the biting because they receive unconditional love from their dog. ”He never talks back to me and he wags his tail when I get home from work,” is something I have heard from many dog owners. Some women even admit to preferring their dog to their husband or ex-husband. ”I’d rather have a dog in my life than a man.”
That brings me to reason #1 why I enjoy retirement. After 35 years of library management, what I love most about retirement is not having to deal with a simple mathematical equation where x hates y; y hates x; and x is y’s supervisor. This happens over and over again…almost as frequently as the equation where x hates y; y hates x; and x and y are co-workers.
There are many reasons for interpersonal conflict. It could be as minor as the way a person flosses his teeth in the staff room after lunch or as major as the supervisor who micromanages to the point where he times your trips to the bathroom. As a manager your most important job is getting people to work compatibly together. But interpersonal conflict at times makes that impossible.
At the end of my career I came up with a strategy to deal with x and y. It probably violated the separation of church and state but I was desperate. Here’s how it went:
Me to X: Do you believe in God?
Me: Do you know why God put Y on earth?
X: To torment me?
X: But why?
Me: God is giving you a challenge.
Me: God is giving you the hardest person on the planet to work with. Are you up to the challenge?
X: I don’t know.
Me: God is not asking you to marry Y. God is asking you to work with him without putting arsenic in his morning coffee.
Me: In fact you should thank God for giving you Y because Y is your ticket to heaven.
X: Wow. I never really thought of it like that. Thanks.
This approach didn’t always work, but more often than not it did. There is a certain type of person motivated by a a divine challenge with a divine reward.