On being ... dramatic

By Ingrid Sapona

There were lots of things I thought commendable about Barak Obama’s time in the White House. But, what I found most exemplary was the “No-drama Obama” approach. Indeed, throughout my adult life, that’s a way of being that I’ve striven toward and that’s something I look for in friends. The way I see it, dialing back the drama frees up energy you can apply to something productive.

Given Trump’s preference for high dudgeon, you probably think this topic’s been on my mind because of some tweet or comment he’s put out. But, Trump’s behavior isn’t what’s inspired today’s column. Instead, the behaviour of a woman I’m working with (I’ll call her Stephanie) is what’s caused me to reflect on self-induced drama.

By many standards, Stephanie has a charmed life. But, I sometimes wonder how she makes it through the daily drama. A simple example will give you a sense of what I’m talking about. She’s a mere 25 and, with her parents’ help, she just bought a condo. Before moving in, she decided she needed shelving for the bedroom closet. She found what she wanted at IKEA. As you might guess, some assembly was required. Not being the do-it-yourself type, she paid extra to have someone install it.

Having just moved in, her condo building’s directory hadn’t been updated to include her name and number. So, when the installers arrived but couldn’t find her name, they left. The morning after, we all heard about the “unbelievable” jerks IKEA sent who didn’t think to phone her cell. As expected, the appointment had to be rescheduled.

The day after the eventual installation, we heard all about how unbelievably rude the workers were. After showing them to the room where the closet was, she left them alone to start. When she returned, she was SHOCKED to see their tool bag on her bed. “If they needed space they could have moved stuff out of their way instead of putting their filthy bags on the bed. Who does that?” she asked incredulously. (I’m guessing workers who are in a hurry…)

She ranted about having to wash all the bed linens as soon as they left. My reaction was: really? All the linens? Surely she must have only needed to clean the bed cover. Oh no, she assured me – she had to wash the sheets too. Not being able to picture how the sheets might have gotten dirty, I asked if they were somehow exposed. She said they weren’t, but the whole idea of anyone putting anything on the bed was just “to disgusting for words”. Something tells me she’s gonna be doing a lot of laundry if that’s how she feels!

Not wanting to prolong the drama, I excused myself and got back to what I was doing. Later, a colleague who heard Stephanie’s rant about the tool-bag-on-the-bed incident confided in me that her mom would have felt the need to wash all the bed linens afterward too. Seems her mom doesn’t like it when stuff that was outside is brought indoors. In fact, she said, her mom’s rule was that they had to change into “indoor clothes” as soon as they got home. I said I could see that because if you’re outside playing you could track dirt and grime in. She calmly explained that the rule applied no matter where they came in from.

Though I find the idea of always changing into indoor clothes as extreme as Stephanie feeling the need to wash everything on the bed if someone puts something on it, I found myself more open to the indoor clothes rule because it was explained in such a matter-of-fact manner. The desire to keep one’s home clean is at the heart of both, I realize. But, Stephanie’s rant was also  about the trauma and effort she had to put into maintaining things as she likes them. My other colleague’s mom, on the other hand, made keeping the inside of their house pristine a straightforward exercise.

I basically don’t like drama because it seems a waste of energy. Just do what you need to do and  don’t make a big deal about it, I say. After all, I think there’s enough drama in life that’s out of our control — why create more?

© 2018 Ingrid Sapona


On being … revolutionary

By Ingrid Sapona

Regardless of how old you are, I’m sure you’d agree that many products that were revolutionary in our great grandparents’ day are almost unrecognizable in their current iteration. Take phones, for instance. We all grew up with our own dedicated phone line at home while our great grandparents might not have had a phone, or they might have shared a party line. (My friend Sandy’s parents’ cottage had a party line well into the 1990s, so we’re not talking ancient history here.)

Twenty years ago – in other words, just one generation ago – the idea of a mobile phone seemed like something invented by comedy writers (remember Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone?) or sci-fi enthusiasts. Then all of a sudden, cell phones came on the scene and a mere decade later they morphed into smart phones that are computers more powerful than those used by NASA to send astronauts to the moon.

But it’s not just technology products that have changed dramatically in our lifetime — the revolution is happening in so many areas. Take autos, for example. Automatic transmission and power steering were pretty much the norm by the time I learned to drive, but I clearly remember when cars went from rear-wheel to front-wheel drive, for example. And, of course, the revolution to fully electrical vehicles has already hit and it seems clear that driverless cars are just around the corner. Does that mean that George Jetson’s mode of transportation is on the horizon too? Who knows …

Some changes in the way products are designed are so revolutionary, they amount to almost a definitional change. Take car keys, for example. Nowadays, you don’t need them to enter OR start the car. Instead of a key, you carry an electronic device that sends a signal to a computer in the car that’s programmed to allow the person to get in and to start the car.

This notion about needing to update the definition of something came to mind this past week because of some work that’s being done in my condo building. Last year we found out that Kitec piping was used when the building was built (15 or so years ago). It was a popular piping product in its day, and up to code. But, since then it’s been found to be faulty in that it just bursts — with no warning. Our condo association has decided that having Kitec in the building poses a risk, and so we’re replacing it throughout the building.

So, when I say the word piping, what do you picture? More specifically, does the image in your mind’s eye change if I say “plumbing pipes in a home”? The image that comes to mind for me is rigid copper or some sort of plastic tubing that water flows through. I have this image from the plumbing in the home I grew up in. It was a ranch house and from the basement you could see all the pipes running through the joists. Looking up at the rafters it was clear that, in contrast to wiring that you can bend or twist, with pipes you needed “elbow joints” or other specially made curved bits if you wanted the water to go in a direction other than straight ahead.

Well, it turns out, while those of us not in the plumbing or building trades were busy trying to keep up with the digital revolution, there’s been a revolution in the pipe world too. I found this out this week, as our massive piping replacement project got underway. When the contractor started unloading the supplies, I expected to see long lengths of pipe laying in the hallway, awaiting their installation. Instead, they brought in coiled bundles of stuff that I’d describe as hose.

So, in the 60+ years since the house I grew up in was built, water pipes have been transformed into flexible hoses. In thinking about it, I realized I shouldn’t have been quite so astonished because a few years back I replaced the “line” from the water tank in my boat to my little galley sink and that line was a hose. But still, wouldn’t you think plumbing supplies for a 200+-unit condo building would be different from what you’d use in a 25-foot sailboat?

I know change is all around us (even hidden in our walls!). But sometimes, it’s just so surprising. And, as a person who works with words, I find it particularly frustrating when our vocabulary just doesn’t fit with reality any longer. Keys are not keys, icons are not icons, pipes are not pipes any more.

What about you? What revolutionary change has caught you by surprise recently?

© 2018 Ingrid Sapona