What is it about indecisiveness that I hate so much?
It's not that it uses up time (though the older I get, the less patience I have). No, I think it's because of the complications it adds to life. There are two basic types of indecision that drive me crazy, and they both center around stuff that just doesn't matter that much. The two scenarios can be exemplified as follows:
- Where should I park?
- Where and when should we meet for dinner?
Where Should I Park?
Seriously, just pick a spot, and walk from there. Gaah! Again, it's not the fact that we could have parked in the nether regions, walked from there and reached our destination by now… No, I just don't like this pain in my neck from your constant modulation of the brakes and steering. And now I'm wondering why we even drove here to begin with. We could have walked the five blocks from home and been there by now. We'd have gotten some exercise and cleared our minds, plus we wouldn't be suffering this dark, confusing cloud of indecision. Please park the car; I'm exhausted.
And it seems to get worse with age. I wonder why… Could it have any connection to our years of trying always to accommodate the parking tastes and desires of everyone else in the car?
"Look! There's a good parking space right in font of you ."
"No, wait! There's a spot right beside the snack bar!" (yes, that's a Big Bamboo reference. Some of my peers will get it.)
Everyone's impatient, but nobody wants to walk. You'd think we'd get better at deciding where to park, but we don't —because it's impossible, people, to get better at something that has no criteria for success. No matter where you decide to park, there will be reason for them to lodge a complaint about it. So we go through life trying to park where others want us to park, and never making the decision ourselves. No wonder we are now unable to decide where to park. We never have! We have no experience deciding where to park. No wonder we can't decide!
Where and When should we Meet for Dinner?
I know you've been there. You're in a group of, say, nine people who collectively have, say, three cars. Somebody says, "Hey, let's all go out for dinner tonight." At first it seems like a great idea—until you realize that not one, but two decisions must now be made: Where, and When.
Here's what I do: turn and walk away—not because I want to be antisocial, aloof, or to appear that I don't care where or when we eat. No, I walk away because I really don't care where or when we eat, and I surely don't care enough to endure the ensuing decision-making process. That's called masochism. I'll just wander back in later to find out what has been decided. By doing this, I figure I've been helpful. Let me explain.
Someone says, "How about we eat at Molly's? They have great pizza." Now, never mind the fact that Molly's has numerous other entrees to choose from, this person, wanting to demonstrate her consideration of others, continues, "… or does pizza sound good to everyone?" At this point everyone seems thoroughly entertained by this consideration of pizza versus other foods, so the discussion deepens. Everything from nutritional value to availability of gluten-free items comes into play.
At this juncture I'm probably chatting with a fellow expatriate on the sidelines, placing figurative bets on the outcome and duration of the whole scenario.
Finally it's decided. We will eat at Georgio's because they make great Italian, plus they have pizza, in case anyone wants it.
Great. I'm all for it.
But wait! A helpful and considerate person is coming over to ask if Georgio's seems alright to us (my fellow expatriate and me). I am tempted to object, just for the entertainment value that the resultant reiterative process would supply, but my better judgement prevails. "Sure. Whatever," I say. She seems a little annoyed by my apparent indifference.
But the process is far from over. We must now decide When, and this is where it really gets interesting for those who are interested, of which I am not one. Just give me a time and I'll be there...
The most helpful person in the group now takes on the requisite responsibility of working out all the logistical details of who will ride in which car, considering, of course, all intervening appointments and other scheduled events. It's really quite amazing to watch from a distance, this recursive process of elimination. And finally a feasible time is determined.
But wait! Another helpful person has been carefully tracking the discussion, and now, in order to be additionally helpful and considerate, offers an alternate plan, in case it's more appealing or accommodating to anyone; or maybe everyone—you never know, you know.
So now I'm being asked if 6:00 is okay, or if 6:45 would be better, because that would allow Bob to be able to stop at home to feed his cat, that is, if I can pick Bob up at his house at 6:30…?
My eyes glaze over. "Whatever," I reply. Again, she seems annoyed by my indifference. I find that entertaining.
I am convinced that this is why old men just seem to check out. I think I'm checking out, because I just can't stand all this indecision.
Couldn't we have just said, "Hey everyone! Georgios at 6:00! Any objections? I'll bet it would have worked itself out. A simple decision. It could have been so simple. We could save ourselves so much of this agony of indecision, and our only real problem would then be reduced to deciding where to park, once we get there. But, of course, that's a different story... or, is it?