I often wonder why smart people do stupid things, and on a fairly regular basis to boot. Intelligent men marry absolutely crazy women (some would argue that's redundant) or commit stupid and unnecessary fraud or vote for the crumbling of American power and a potentially apocalyptic third world war (For the record the acronym for that is B.U.S.H.) There are many reasons why intelligence fails. Incomplete information, hubris, and perhaps most damning of all, rationalization. An intelligent man can outsmart himself. He can convince himself to think what he wants to think rather than what his logic would tell him to.
It was a combination of all three that made last night a minor disaster.
Yesterday started off on a sour note when I woke up still feeling tired despite a whole night of sleep. This is not terribly unusual for me, especially when I've been running a sleep deficit for a few weeks as I have been recently. Still I managed to get ready on time and get into work, where I spent the first 45 minutes or so doing almost nothing because my boss wasn't in and hadn't left any instructions. I called him on his cellphone and he pranked me AGAIN, telling me he was hours away and didn't know what there was for me to do without his going over a few things and then running into the building so he could get to my office just as we hung up. In addition to it showing that he's pretty damned cool for a guy in his 50s I also take this as a positive sign that he doesn't hate me, something I'm always worried about with everyone since I know my flaws well and generally can tell when I annoy people, which is often.
Anyway the rest of the workday was sort of crappy but not terrible. I had to do a lot of photocopying for a binder we're preparing and juggle a bit of VHS/DVD replication stuff. My friend Gabe met me for lunch and he came up to see the office. I even managed to get rid of him in an appropriate time frame. Of course he did call me on my cellphone about 20 times while I was talking to my boss and I had to hang up on him over and over before he got the message. I have since figured out how to make the telephone vibrate. I should probably keep it in my pocket rather than the holster from here on in.
Anyway, one of the various tasks my boss was talking about is getting rid of old paint. In New York City this is a massive pain in the ass. You can't just throw it out, or even return it to the paint store. You need to either dry it out (filling your space with fumes) or soak it up with Kitty Litter (leaving you with a whole lot of paint-soaked kitty litter.) My boss didn't want either done, and he was getting tired of it being in the office so he told me to get rid of it that day. His suggestion was that I illegally dump it in a nearby dumpster. I grudgingly agreed, since I hate doing that sort of thing especially with something like paint that could be both dangerous and environmentally harmful. Fortunately when I took the paint towards the dumpster it was in use by the owners so I just ended up walking around the block holding four cans of paint, cutting my hands to shreds.
Then I had an idea. An idea that seemed pretty reasonable at the time. My friend Gabe, the very one my boss had met, is currently making his apartment livable, which involves painting. He also enjoys receiving virtually anything for free since he loves to barter via Crag's List and prides himself on being able to get something for anything. I suggested to my boss that I'd give the paint to Gabe, initially just one can since the store we got it from agreed to take the three standard cans back, just not the special mix, but I offered all four cans if he wanted them. My boss wanted to get rid of some coat-racks as well (the mount on the wall kind, not free-standing) so I offered them too. He wanted it all.
This is how I found myself leaving my office at 6:45 PM in the rain holding 55 pounds of paint and wood in a flimsy storage box with two coat racks sticking out. About a block later I realized that I should have just left the stuff there and used the car to grab it over the weekend but I wasn't about to go back and ask my boss to hold it for another day. I had agreed to take it and take it I would.
Because I'm an idiot. Something that was driven in to me many times over the course of my journey. Like when I had to put the box down on the street to rest a bit and then pick it back up. Off a filthy wet New York City sidewalk. Or when I headed down the stairs into the subway, unable to see my feet, the coat racks dangerously close to taking an eye out and catching on my shirt dozens of times. By the time I got to Brooklyn and handed the stuff off to Gabe (although I carried the coat racks for him so HE didn't lose an eye) my back ached something fierce and my hands were covered in filth. The box itself had both handles torn out and some warping on the sides. The only thing that prevented it from breaking and dumping the paint out on to the street was the fact that I had taped the bottom with a ton of packing tape so it was watertight. One smart move there.
I'm not sure why I didn't stop and turn back when I realized what carrying this heavy unwieldy box of crap in the rain would be like. I guess it was a combination of masculine pride, determination to please my boss who will be recommending me for new positions soon, and old fashioned stubbornness. I also could have gotten a cab for those first seven blocks to the train station. Sure it would have cost more than the junk was worth, but considering how sore my arms were today it would probably not have been a bad move compared to what I did do.
The stupidity didn't end there either. After I helped Gabe plaster we went out and got some Moroccan food, which was okay at best (and made me feel nausea for the rest of the night) and then we went to a bar. Sticking to my new idea of drinking only wine I ordered a chardonnay and we sat and drank it in the garden out back while a bunch of individuals far hipper than we had a depressingly inane conversation. For some reason the wine just knocked me on my ass, and after we headed back to his place it took an hour for me to sober up. I left there about 11:30 having accomplished zero in the way of writing (which was the original goal) and with my back still hurting a little bit.
Just about every decision I made was idiotic. From carrying the stuff there by hand to eating the Moroccan food instead of getting a burger as I really wanted to to drinking alcohol at all, even in vino form. I also had too much desert in an attempt to get some sugar and caffeine into my bloodstream and shake myself out of the stupor. A thoroughly unpleasant evening due entirely to my own terrible decision making.
Is there room left on the short bus for me?