I seem to be living in a perpetual state of perplexity these days. I see stuff, I read stuff, I hear stuff and I don’t get any of it.
I’m not talking about huge stuff, like “what is the meaning of life” or “is there really a god.” Those kinds of questions invite confusion. No, I’m talking about matters that range from the utterly mundane to the nearly profound.
Take bedding. Has anyone gone shopping for sheets lately? They seem to come only in beige, gray or slightly differing shades of institutional blue. Did someone take a national poll that I wasn’t part of and decide we all wanted to sleep on sheets that look dingy even when fresh from the laundry? I’m not looking to sleep between a couple of Rembrandts but a bit of color wouldn’t come amiss.
Try shopping for paint. Has anyone gone looking for a gallon of white paint lately? There have to be at least 20 shades of white available. I’m not talking off-white or very, very light pastels, which number in the hundreds of thousands. I’m talking plain white. But no. You can get ice white, vanilla white, dove white, glacier white, egg white and, for all I know, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. How many shades of white do we need? Can’t the color designers go to work on the sheets instead? And just who are those color designers? I don’t like them.
Let’s move on to a few other things that leave me totally baffled. All the electronics that have functions like on and off, up and down, cool or hot used to be labeled with words like “on” or “off.” The labels are gone, replaced by little emoji figures that I’m supposed to instinctively know. Yes, I get the fact that the arrows do mean up and down, but the rest is a guessing game as far as I’m concerned. Even the guy who installed my air conditioner couldn’t figure out how to turn it on, so it’s not just me who feels like an idiot.
Speaking of emojis, I don’t know what most of them are for, either. I know the smiley face and the thumbs up and the other basics, but I have a library of emojis I could never see myself sending in a million years — and this is before I discovered that some emojis convey a double entendre. So if you feel compelled to send someone a vegetable emoji, don’t choose the eggplant. Don’t ask me why. I just know it’s bad because someone told me.
Then there’s recycling. I pay for trash pick-up but every few weeks I make a trip to my town’s recycling center to get rid of the cans, bottles, cardboard, newspapers, etc., that I can keep from going to a landfill. I don’t need to do it — my trash bill isn’t going to go up if I dump all those recyclables in the can — but I feel it’s my duty. I’ve been recycling since the days when you had to keep the clear glass separate from the brown glass and the green glass.
A few years ago my town embraced “single source recycling,” whereby every recyclable is dumped into one large compactor and then crushed to dust. And guess what? Recycling, which was supposed to pay for itself, is now a pain in the butt for many municipalities that can’t find anyone willing to take the stuff. I’m no specialist in solid waste disposal but it seemed counter-intuitive when my town made the move to single-source. How could reuse be accomplished more easily — and profitably — when all that stuff was going to have to be re-sorted again? I figured the experts knew better than I did. No, I was right. They were wrong. And now I’m irritated every time I go to the dump.
Of course, on the national level there’s more than enough to be bewildered by. I’m not even going to get into the 2020 election or other current events, but it seems like the federal government continually does the same things over and over again — or more to the point, doesn’t do them — expecting different outcomes. (That, by the way, is the classic definition of insanity.) But hey, they get paid whether they give you the goods or not. Or maybe it’s because they’re really working half the year. How would your job be going if you only logged 165 out of 365 days? (That 165 days is on the high end. Look for yourselves to see how many days Congress is in session.)
Planning for the unexpected is always tricky, but why do we always have the money to fight unexpected wars but never have enough to help the victims of inevitable natural disasters? You can’t exactly anticipate a natural disaster, but we all know that at some point there is going to be a devastating hurricane, wildfire, drought, earthquake or descending hordes of locusts somewhere in the United States. We don’t know where or when, but we do know something bad is going to happen somewhere, sometime. Why do we always act so surprised when it comes to pass? And why do we never have the money?
Have I confused you? Join the club.