When I was a kid in elementary school, the lunch lady used to lecture my friends and I about wasting food. She would tell us that little kids in China or some third world country we had never heard of were going to bed with an empty stomach and we were throwing away perfectly good goulash.
We didn’t care. The goulash, of course, tasted like surplus Army rations from the Civil War and rubbery Chef Boyardee canned pasta.
Unfortunately for us, we had to be careful. If she caught us throwing away food from our tray—stringy, green vegetables; dark, lumpy mystery meat, it didn’t matter—she’d grab us by the scruff of our neck and give us a stern lecture. If she was in a particular feisty mood, then you were in big trouble. She once sent a friend of mine back through the line a second time to grab more food. He begged her no, telling her that he felt full, but it was all to no avail.
Oh, how times have changed. The lunch lady would probably be charged with child endangerment today, but we somehow survived her wrath. We survived other things too everything from cheap pencils that seemed to snap with the simplest pressure to flimsy yellow paper that became a grayish mess the minute you started to write, God forbid, when you tried to erase your answer.
Of course, our so-called problems were pretty minor in the grand scheme of things. Like most people, I’ve graduated to bigger challenges getting married and raising a family; paying the bills; keeping my house clean and orderly; making sure to eat healthy and taking care of myself; etc., etc.
The little things at one point or another still find a way to get to even the best of us. I’ve been keeping track lately of some of the mindless problems that have pushed me to the brink:
- A smudgy phone screen.
- Sticky keys on my keyboard, where every “n” that I write on-screen either shows up as “nnn” or fails to appear at all.
- Long waits in line at the grocery store, convenience store, or where I go for lunch, making me run behind the rest of the day.
- Slow or intermittent wifi.
- My local coffee shop getting my coffee order wrong. I’m a pretty simple guy, I order the same thing every day, a large coffee with cream, no sugar, but it inevitably comes back wrong.
- Charging my phone for hours, only to pull it out of my backpack to see the battery charge down to 25% or less.
- Forgetting my work password that I just created a few hours earlier.
- Hitting the snooze alarm so many times that I miss my chance to get up early and go for a walk or a run.
- Air conditioning. We’re having an air conditioning battle in our house. Before I go to bed, I’ll notice that the air upstairs is a touch too low and I’ll turn it up. I’ll then wake in the morning shivering from the cold blast.
Yea, all pretty minor problems. Heck, when I was a kid, I would’ve killed for another fan, forget about air conditioning in our house. These problems barely register blip on the scale, but when they happen, they can ruin your day. The funny thing: When it happens to someone else, it’s a small problem. When it happens close to home, it’s a big problem.
So in hindsight, maybe my dear old lunch lady wasn’t so bad after all. If I saw her today, I might even ask if I could have some more goulash.