I Would If I Could But I Can’t

How many out there in the peanut gallery would do something if they could? Probably most of us.

I know I’d like to end world hunger and save the whales, but that’s probably if I had a magic wand. I know what you’re going to say now–you can do something even if it’s just a little bit…. Yeah and I’d agree with you. I could do something like donate to the charity or nonprofit. Maybe even walk up Camelback Mountain to raise money for the Phoenix Zoo’s breeding program. But that’s so average and often unrewarding!

However, most of us aren’t Bill Gates or Ted Turner. We can’t just open up our billfold and write a check for a billion dollars. It’s frustratingly true.

So let’s concentrate today on some of the things you really would like to do but somehow think you can’t. Do you see that the operative word here is can’t? I once had an art teacher who scowled every time a student would whine “I can’t.” He really despised that message. I cut out saying that very quickly, but unfortunately I still lacked the facility to do more than color and paste.

But there are still a few things we all CAN do if we set our minds to it:

First off, we can bitch about stuff that legitimately requires complaining. For instance, if you are unhappy with the behavior of a particular elected local, state, or national office holder, hurry up and get on Twitter and make your case known to the world. Tweet all day and all night–be vulgar, crass or otherwise obnoxious Other people out there may think similarly and just need a prodding. Let’s say you’re sick of the town mayor who’s always giving away contracts to his pals. Well, just put it out there in the cyberworld and see what comes back. The mayor might retaliate by “forgetting” to snow plow your house, but what the hell, what are kids for anyway?

Another activity we can all participate in is complimenting a person who never gets compliments–someone like your computer/Apple service rep. These people get paid only a few bucks an hour to thoroughly confuse you. For example, you call up with the problem that your computer is frozen and they proceed to order you to disconnect just about every plug in the wall. Your computer still isn’t working, but your service rep is really trying. And since there are few rewards for just trying, you can fill that vacuum. Whether your computer is now working is a moot point. So what if you have to call in one of those geek squads at the local retail mall. The important thing is you’ve established a healthy relationship with your service rep, who might be from India or another country you couldn’t find on a map, and you are in a good position now to commend the rep for his efforts in trying. Get his name and ID info and write a nice letter to his supervisor. Stress that despite his failure to re-start your computer, you had a good time playing with the USBEs and in fact you got more exercise crawling around on the floor than in your yoga class. One thing you’d like to clarify though: Is Angry Child really a legitimate position?

One thing we all can do is say thank you. Just two little words, but they can open doors, put a smile on a sad person’s face, and turn you into the giving and generous soul you were meant to be. So since the Christmas season is coming up, start rehearsing your repertoire of Thank yous. You can say “thanks,” “Great,” “Swell,”
“Good Idea,” and substitute it for the more formalized “thank you,” but make sure that somehow you insert that phrase into your dialogue. Overlook any minor problems like the moth hole in the sweater you just purchased for your Aunt Gladys–she probably would have returned it anyway. Refrain from reminding the sales clerk to take off all the security devices that some evil supervisor has attached to the cashmere scarves you bought for your husband’s entire family. Big deal if the clerk forgot one or two. Your in-laws can remove them with their sturdy teeth or, better yet, wear them as is. Remember, the gift is not the goal of your shopping adventure. Your goal is delivering as many thank yous as you can to the rushed and harried sales clerks who are doing their best to help you in a crowded store overloaded with too much inventory and too few room deodorizers.

Are you getting the idea now about doing the thing that might hurt you but help the other guy? That’s the spirit of Christmas. It’s also part of the Golden Rule and every religion has claimed it since the Garden of Eden drama. Just think if Adam had said thank you to the serpent instead of railing at it for coaxing Eve into biting the forbidden apple, we might not have to think about sins of omission and commission at all. After all a pleasant thank you to an ugly serpent is way smarter than eating a wormy apple.

So now that you’ve caught the fever, spread it around to those you love and those you love to hate. A simple thank you can almost always be a good substitute for a Seasons Greetings card from Hallmark. It also costs nothing!

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