|There are some things I just won’t do. I don’t care how great ten of my friends swear skydiving is; I will never see the appeal in screaming hysterically as I plummet 10,000 feet from an aircraft that by all rights I should still be safely strapped into. The humiliation of putting on a pair of Depends under a jumpsuit is by itself deterrent enough without the thought of subjecting myself to a prolonged confrontation with my mortality. Soiled underwear, screaming like a girl and an unceremonious impact cloud of dust is not how I want to go out.
Similarly, I will not go for a ride in a hot air balloon. An obvious offshoot of the skydiving idea, hanging in a wicker basket while watching the sweet safety of the ground slowly transform itself into an immovable object that is just begging me to test the laws of physics against its hard surface, doesn’t inspire much enthusiasm. To make matters worse, I wouldn’t even be able to mitigate the danger with a parachute because I’d still have to deal with the whole adult diaper and 3 minutes of abject terror during freefall thing were I to end up using it.
Some of my refusals aren’t all about death. Some are born from lessons in embarrassment. As they say, there are some fates worse than death, although finding the originator of that saying is nigh impossible. Probably because immediately upon discovering cause to coin the term, they went into self exile in some remote wilderness and have yet to reemerge.
A few all too real personal examples come to mind here.
Like the time a waitress stood at our table and asked me several times if everything was ok, and when I failed to answer or even acknowledge her existence got huffy and demanded “Are you deaf or something”? To which my friends replied, “As a matter of fact, yes, he is.”
I learned what mortification really looks like that day.
No, I’m not totally deaf in case you’re wondering, just in one ear, and unless you’re in front of me or on my “good side”, chances are I won’t notice you talking unless I see you. Handy in some situations yes, like when attending the inlaw’s family reunion, but generally just an annoyance. Moral? Don’t act on an assumption out of irritation unless you’re 100% certain it’s justified.
Such embarrassment is all too easy with the internet. We’ve all seen the stories of Facebook and Myspace pages coming back to haunt people. School teachers who probably would have been better off not posting those Cancun vacation pics with the delinquent bikini top and beer bong. Or the police officer who thought using her patrol car as a background for a nude photo spread was a good idea. These are just examples of the obvious gaffes to avoid. Besides, unless your gym membership is well used and your mastery of photoshop complete, chances are the potential damage isn’t just to your professional image. Now you know why I’ll never wear shorts if there’s a camera around. Think toothpicks with dimples for knees.
For those who work online, the dangers are numerous and more subtle. It’s bad enough we have to constantly hustle and keep up with ten different projects at once, but we have to do it without allowing even innocent mistakes to torpedo our efforts. Like the time I sent a liberally slanted piece about Bush’s intelligence to a conservative client by accident. Doh! No more naming files 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, for me. From now on its descriptive titles and a quick overview before hitting send, period.
And if I ever have to go rounds with an Editor again, I’ll be sure to do my write-up in Word first. Making stupid spelling mistakes when berating someone else for their editing mistakes is just plain bad form and never leads to a good resolution. Editors really seem eager to jump on those types of things for some reason and will get maximum mileage out of a typo. Go figure.
I suppose there isn’t a great deal of advice to be taken from this post and for that I apologize. It began when I was reading the paper and noticing one mistake after another and foolishly forming a self righteous opinion of my own abilities, then realizing I have more than one big whopper of my own to keep in mind. I guess all I can offer with this one is, if you think something is a bad idea or might be a mistake, just don’t do it. That, and hide the evidence. Luckily for me, internet access is available even in the most remote wilderness should it become necessary.
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