My Solution To Everything

I've mentioned in this space before that I am currently making my living conducting surveys by telephone, most of them political in nature. I will not divulge the name of the company I work for, nor the names of any of the people I speak with, the outfits that fund the work, nor even the states we've been calling. Or, for that matter, the silly phony name that I use in my professional setting. But no one has told me that I can't otherwise blog occasionally about the experience, and share a few of the more moronic quotes I am given.

And I get plenty of those--this most stupid of political cycles has given me plenty of meat for the grinder.

You may wonder how I, with my strong left-leaning opinions, can get through conversation after conversation with people who voted for our current fearless leader--whom I have chosen to call "Trumpelthinskin" for the time being--without entirely losing my shit and telling these idiots exactly how well-thought-out I think their ideas are.  The secret, actually, is not to think about what any of it means, to let all those boneheaded comments pass in one ear and fly out the other without doing violence to the delicate gray matter in between. Fortunately, with much of our time being spent waiting for someone to answer their phone and agree to take the survey, we are allowed what we call distractions, small hand-held devices like books and smartphones.

I don't have a smartphone, and attempting to read a book usually results in repeated perusal of the same paragraph. And what is needed is something creative, something beautiful, something symmetrical and colorful.

I'm reminded of something Jim Bouton wrote long ago in his baseball diary/best-selling book Ball Four, about pitching in Seattle in 1969 in a ballpark whose name I have forgotten. He threw a knuckleball back then, a pitch known for unpredictability in flight and often for being undependable in its effectiveness.  This often resulted in the ball becoming known for flying off the bat of the hitter and tracing an arc over the outfield wall, a phenomenon known as the home run.

But, as Bouton wrote, following the ball's trajectory would result in a lovely view of Mt. Rainier, and, as he put it, "some of the bad feeling would go away."

We have no mountains in view where I work, and I can't bring one with me, so I reached back into my childhood for the solution. And what is my solution to the bad feelings I get when people spout their idiocy at me, insist on "facts" that are transparent bullshit, and leave me despairing for the future of my country?

None other than Spirograph. Color, beauty, symmetry, and visual manifestation of several mathematical principles does wonders for my mood and, by extension, my ability to retain my professional, neutral demeanor.

So when somebody tells me that Barack Obama lost the popular vote in 2012, a Republican myth that Trumpelthinskin boosted with one of his idiot tweets on election night that year, I note the comment while remaining entirely focused on my latest Spirograph creation, and I swear, some of that bad feeling goes away.

It works.

"I think a man should run the country. Women are too emotional."

And the bad feeling goes away.

"Hillary Clinton should get the electric chair!"

And the bad feeling goes away.

"I'm tired of land being taken from America and put into parks."

And the bad feeling GOES AWAY.

"Obamacare killed my wife. She got sick and I took her to the hospital. They had a bunch of foreign doctors that filled her up with liquids, and she died. Obamacare killed my wife."

And the bad feeling GOES AWAY.

I do love my Spirograph. Until someone invents a more interactive phone system, one that allows me to wring the necks of my respondents, this will do. Bring it on, America. I can make the bad feeling go away.


  1. https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2017/08/29/some-thoughts-on-circus-peanuts/#more-114600

  2. Love it. Beautiful art, you're like Spiro Agnew with that thing