Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Why I’m doubting my benefits of a doubt

Note: This column appears in the 6/17 issue of The Glendale Star and the 6/18 issue of the Peoria Times

I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. For example, if somebody were to do something that I found to be weird, utterly stupid, or wrong in a way that would indicate a general incompetence, I would do my best to not allow that to, initially, adversely affect my opinion of that person’s character.

My wife is the opposite. If somebody does something that she finds to be suspect –- and we’re differentiating here between honest miscues and that special brand of idiocy mixed with laziness -- best believe she will dip into her bag of profanities and pass immediate judgment on that person’s motives and character. (Not necessarily to them directly, but definitely to me.) Being Italian and from Brooklyn and reactionary anyway, there are times when I think she jumps to conclusions. But the sad thing is -- she’s usually right.

Now you are undoubtedly saying to yourself, “What is he referring to and is he talking about me?” Ha, ha! Don’t be silly. Yes, I am talking about you. But “you” are hypothetical.

Let’s say for example that I, a human being, need your assistance. Not because I otherwise couldn’t do something myself, but because your assistance is required by, let’s say, the State of Arizona. Now, what I am attempting to do is extremely important and directly influences the lives and well-being of many people, including myself. You: don’t care. So, in attempting to accomplish my goal, I send you an email. You: don’t respond.

It is at this point that I would typically give you the benefit of the doubt, acknowledging that you are most likely very busy. My wife is less sympathetic. Nevertheless, I am now forced to contact you more directly because I need you to do something that you are required by your position to do, and honestly, should have already done. You: after a lengthy delay, do it wrong and then, send the wrong thing to the wrong address.

This process repeats itself, to the point where I have rallied an entire team of supporters to assist me in the simple act of urging you to do what you are supposed to be doing anyway, and then, to correct what you have done. My wife then uses me as the sounding board for her own frustrations with the situation, reminding me what she thought about you from the get-go.

Now obviously, this is a hypothetical example. But I think we all know people who employ similar strategies of, “I will only do something if and when I absolutely have to and then I will do it wrong” and “I will simply pretend we never had this conversation” and “I am literally trying to get fired” and “Your tax dollars pay my salary -– enjoy my indifference.” These are, unfortunately as I have come to find, the realities of life.

I am, therefore, lately doubting the liberal use of my benefits of the doubt. Plus my wife is running out of “I told you so’s.” (Not really, but still.) So, I mean, c’mon -– we may not all enjoy our jobs or even our lots in life, but we have an obligation to be something better than a person who doesn’t care. I’d like to be right about you just once.

1 comment:

Lisa Ramos said...

You KNOW I go with your wife on this one