Water Coolers.

It’s safe to say that by a good five year margin, I’m the youngest person in my office. Most of the people I work  with directly are in their 40-60s, and maybe two or so are in their late 20s and 30s. Everyone I work with has had more experiences than me, has their undergraduate degree or their master’s, and has settled on this job after much trial and error at other places around the country.

That being said: our water cooler’s drip-catch is rancid.

Like Joe, I thought there were real grownups. I believed that with age, we became responsible beings who saw “the right thing to do”, and did it—we all became someone’s personal Jesus*. But it turns out that we’re all vulnerable to the temptations of letting someone else take care of what needs to be done. We all submit to a tragedy of the commons, or catch a free ride, whenever we can.

Sure, some days we wake up and feel inspired for no reason: on these days we make it a point to hold the door for someone, squire a handicapped citizen about for a time, or wave someone into our lane during rush hour. But most days it’s, “Fuck that, someone’ll get it.”

For me, I easily get caught up rejecting my own thoughts because, “I’m not that old yet,” or, “I’m not very wise,” or, “I still have a long way to go.” This in mind: there’s always someone else who can call us a sprat, who can spit on our hill of knowledge and wisdom from atop their mountain. But they too have a superior. The ranks continue higher and higher until who is wiser and knows more is negligible, immeasurable even, and we’ve reached our capacity—think of it as a logarithmic scale. We approach a cap toward infinity, never reach it, but can always get closer and closer; forever closing the gap and being better for ourselves than before, but never becoming the human definition of wisdom. Whether it’s our lifespan or natural potential, biological or metaphysical: we have a limit.

While this may sound like a huge bummer, it’s actually a huge breath of fresh air. Although the mental counter-balances are all true, and a great way to keep us in check so our own madness doesn’t inundate our perspective, finding out that our seniors fail too says something: we’re all human. We’re all learning.

I hope to learn till the day I die.

*(capitalizing out of respect, not faith).


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