One cannot argue that the state of the planet is in disarray. No matter where you get your news, it’s clear that something went wrong along the way.
Over the last few months, it’s been worse. How can that be? We can’t blame it all on the pandemic, politics, or improper interpersonal communication.
We can blame much of it on selfishness; stay with me.
Humans have treated each other poorly since the beginning of time. No, it wasn’t as widely known as, for a time, we could only know what we saw for ourselves or heard about from others. Now we can read and see it in every headline or story on the nightly news. That’s all we hear about.
The old line that if it bleeds, it leads comes to mind every time I turn on a television. One cannot argue that it’s true. Spend time directing traffic near a horrific car accident. You will find that humans are curious.
They slow down, gawk, then tell everyone they meet that they were there and it was horrible. They add that their only wish was that they hadn’t looked at all. But, they look again the very next time. They love to see bad news, and news producers know this,
Sure, they throw in a feel-good story later in the broadcast, but never lead with good news. Never.
Before I get too far into my dissertation, I want you all to know this is not political. I don’t use my stump to push viewpoints, party lines, or one faction over another. I have strong beliefs, but the focus of my writings centers on common sense topics. Or at least I hope so.
My theory’s basis started long before the last few presidents were elected, so comment on that elsewhere. I’m not too fond of it when either party blames “hate” on the other. It’s far more equal than our personal biases let us admit.
I began gathering data in the late 60s, long before I put on a badge. Respect did seem more available, and opinions were listened to, sometimes embraced, and sometimes eschewed. However, we were not mad about it. We were not shooting each other over it, either. And, yes, guns were plentiful.
Long before I started writing for a living and was still policing, I began to watch human-to-human disrespect rising to new heights on just about every call I was involved in.
It gave me headaches in my early years. There are days now when I wish I hadn’t done the job. My friends have spoken to me loud and clear; I am not the guy I used to be. I have to look back and agree.
For a time, I felt unscathed, but reviewing my well-worn path, I indeed have been affected.
Our interpersonal skills, dealing with stress, and overcoming obstacles are not improving. Being enraged is the new cherry cordial, or at least the palate-cleansing sherbert, just before we dig into the main course. Social media channels allow us to tout our anger, brag really, and it garners ‘likes.’
If I collected a quarter for every time I’ve seen, “You Go, Gurl!” as a comment directly under an angry tirade— threatening violence to others— because of a misstep by someone suddenly deemed unworthy of living, I’d be a rich man.
Yup, they cheer for it.
In today’s more enlightened world, with the advent of counselors on every corner, help lines out the wazoo, and millions of books written specifically to help us understand how to get along with each other, we should have most of this licked.
As a point of conversation, and play along with me if you will, it’s become far worse since the advent of enormous luxury homes with multiple bathrooms. It seems silly to say. That’s why I have waited so long to release my theory.
I call it— TC’s theory of Too Many Bathrooms.
Most anyone who reads my stuff regularly will fully understand; anyone out there much younger than forty will call me a nut for pushing this idea out for public consumption. I don’t care; I believe it has some merit.
I grew up with three sisters. Two older and one younger. We never once lived in a house with more than one bathroom. We loved each other and fought like wild animals at times. We worked things out; we called to claim a window seat when we went for a car ride, and we agreed on the timely use of our single bathroom as we prepared for school, church, special events, and biologically necessary pit stops.
Sure, there was some door pounding, a bit of yelling, and lots of “I have to pee” dances. If it got too rowdy at the top of the stairs, Dad would give out loud warnings that we had better figure it out, or he would.
I can tell you that my parents never called the cops to deal with us—they didn’t need to.
We tended to agree on roughly drawn-up accords—a quick break from blow drying so a sibling could use the toilet or brush their teeth. Maybe one sister could use their curling iron in their bedroom so the toe-headed kid could poop; you get the idea.
As I said, we worked it out because we had no other options. If there had been another bathroom in the house, I would never have been much of a police crisis negotiator or been able to talk someone into confessing to a heinous crime. While I was pretty darn good, there is no way I would have been if I could have gone elsewhere to do my business, I had to earn it through shrewd tactics.
There were no other options other than to work it out with my sisters, so we did.
You see, it’s challenging to manage life in general if you have not had to overcome obstacles in your youth. The bathroom arguments with siblings taught us that we couldn’t always have our way and were better for it.
My first experience with more than one bathroom in a home was during television episodes of “The Brady Bunch.”
Heck, their dad was an architect, and Mike Brady made the girls and boys, three of each, share one bathroom. It was clear they had to work things out. They fought over silly things, sure. Television in those days would never portray kids fighting over bathroom use, but you know they did. Every multi-sibling family with only one bathroom was forced to work things out.
I assumed that Carol and Mike had another bathroom, probably ensuite; Alice, too, was downstairs near the kitchen. She probably had a bathroom of her own. She was an adult.
My early years as a cop were in a town believed to be more well-heeled than others. I don’t think it was, but lovely new homes abounded, and people moved there in droves. Beautiful homes were built in new subdivisions, most having multiple bathrooms. Some kids had bathrooms of their own. It was the eighties, and life was grand.
When I attended incidents in those homes, and yes, cops go to the “nice” homes too, much more than the world believes, I saw more evidence of selfish habits. Sure, there’s a lot more to the makeup of a family dynamic than the ease of using a bathroom when needed, but there was sometimes a palpable difference in the kids’ attitudes.
First, the parents were calling the cops; that’s called a clue in my industry. I wish I had kept records of the attitudes and the number of bathrooms per home, but that would have been weird. Overall, I had far less pushback in homes where the kids were not spoiled.
And, no, I am not looking at you right now with all your great, well-behaved kids and many bathrooms. I speak generally, and I have to write the same way.
These’ kids,’ many of who had their own bathrooms, are today’s young adults. Generally speaking, scores of them are having difficulty conforming with the need to work things out with others. It could be their friends, teachers, parents, the cops, or many who have some authority over them.
My dad always said we all answer to someone; it stands true today. There are people out there who never got the memo, and that’s a problem that the rest of us are dealing with.
Could it be because it was too easy for some of them? Is that partially to be blamed—simply— on the ease of using a bathroom whenever they pleased?
Consider it; that’s all I’m asking.
Please find me a kid who grew up with numerous siblings and one bathroom, and I will show you someone who knows that compromise and consideration for others is the key to building a successful partnership. You can’t ask about the number of bathrooms in a childhood home on job applications, but maybe we should.
The virtues of patience and kindness could be the result of being forced to hold it, squeeze it, just a little bit longer so your sister can finish up; that’s all I’m saying.
I recently relayed this to my son. He has his own family now. He just thinks I am crazy, but he has no siblings, and he was forced to work it out with his mother and me. We had one bathroom. And it’s far too small by all accounts.
My family has always wondered why I disabled the water in the cellar quarter bathroom; now you know. Keep it to yourself.
From the jagged edge of America, I remain,
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