One of the blogs I like to keep an eye on is the Dilbert Blog, by Scott Adams. As you might have guessed, Scott is the writter of the insightful Dilbert comic. At least it seems insightful to geeks like me – you might have other ideas! If you wade your way past some of the more political pieces you find gems of irony and understatement, such as yesterday’s effort, which is about the kind of decision that must have brought every married man close to tears at some time:
“Delusions of Competence By Scott_Adams on General Nonsense
“Before I got married I did many things correctly. I attribute my excellent performance to the fact that I have astonishingly low standards for just about everything that doesn’t directly affect my health. My plan for happiness was to set the bar low and clear it by a mile. It was a formula that worked so well that I considered turning it into a self-help book. I would have called it The Power of Low Standards. The entire book would have been three pages long and hand-written on paper that would make a beaver hurl.
“Now I’m married, and that means I have to explain myself a lot. I can no longer leave a hot iron on my shirt just to see how long it takes to burn it, then draw more comics and buy another shirt. Suddenly that sort of thing is wrong.
“I went into the marriage fully understanding that the big decisions would be jointly made, and I’m okay with that because it makes perfect sense. Two heads are better than one. The part that caught me by surprise is how often I have to second-guess myself on the little decisions. And life, it turns out, is mostly little decisions.
“This problem came into sharp focus while cleaning up after a holiday get-together with family. I found myself staring at a serving plate of thoroughly picked-over hambone and gristle and wondering if it was okay to throw it out. In my pre-marriage days, this decision would be simple. Not only would I have thrown it out, but I might have literally thrown it out the window just to see how long it took a raccoon to find it. Sometimes I like to do that sort of research. In those days, every problem had an obvious solution.
“But now I am faced with a decision that presents many opportunities to be wrong. I’m thinking that the tray of ham debris MIGHT be garbage. It sure looked like it. But maybe Shelly had plans to make a soup. I had never seen her make a soup from a hambone, but life is full of firsts.
“Or maybe she already promised the bone to my mother-in-law for her dog. Knowing that I might disappoint a human is enough pressure, but now I had to worry about making a dog sad. It was almost too much to bear.
“I started to wonder if the ham debris only looked worthless to me because I’m a vegetarian. Perhaps someone else might peer into the gristle and see an entire week’s worth of delicious sandwiches. I needed to come to terms with the fact that I am not qualified to judge ham sandwich potential. I made a mental note to add it to my growing list of inadequacies.
“Shelly wasn’t nearby at the time of this decision process. I could have waited until she got back, but the plate of used ham parts was seriously impeding my kitchen-cleaning plan. And I knew that if I postponed this decision, I’d only get hung up on a similar question with the guacamole dip. I was paralyzed. I either had to make an executive decision (probably wrong) or risk being seen as an unhelpful spouse. I decided that my best option was to bide my time until Shelly got back. I started to slowly gather up used dishes and put them in the dishwasher. This is something I knew I could do right. And by “right” I mean I generally fill the dishwasher to 100% capacity and then Shelly rearranges things to make room for 90 additional items.
“I managed to drag out the dishwasher-loading process until Shelly got back. This turned out to be good strategy. Had I made the ham decision unilaterally I would have later heard the question ‘Why did you put garbage in Tupperware and store it in the refrigerator?’ And then I’d have to say, ‘I’m keeping the hambone fresh for your Mom’s dog. That’s called thinking about others.’ “