Blissfully Unaware

31 Jan

Chicago. Summer, 2007. Ali and I were on the Red Line headed north to scope out the theatre where I would be interning. It was not a completely crowded traincar, but there were a handful of us slummin it on the Red Line. To our right, standing, was a (homeless?) man screaming (to us, now infamous) phrases like, “Stop the terrorism! Stop the terrorism! Stop the terrorism!” and “Is Jesse Jackson equal to a woman?!” This man also took the opportunity to slam an empty Gatorade bottle on the ground with each exclamation. After a minute or two of this, another impassioned (homeless?) gentleman started screaming insanities back at him. This went on for a good ten minutes until one, maybe both, of them exited the train. My gut reaction was to tighten up and stare at my feet. Every so often I did also take the opportunity to look other normal passengers in the eye. You know the look. You don’t? It’s this one.  

Or this one…

I always find a little solice in knowing I’m surrounded by at least few normal people. If presented with a similar ridiculous situation and you see someone making the same face back at you, keep calm and carry on, you have found (though most likely a stranger) a normal ally.

These two men didn’t seem to mind that others on the train were exchanging said looks. They may not have even noticed. They were unaware. Of course, this isn’t the best example of unawareness because they probably were both suffering from some serious mental illnesses, but I like the story, so there you go. It also is a segway for me to talk about unaware people.

Most of the time I’m very aware of what’s going on around me: especially people’s attitudes, body language, and how to behave in various social settings. Is this a good or a bad thing? Would it be better to live a mostly happy, yet unaware life or be a very aware person who has to deal with those consequences? Despite its setbacks, I am very glad I have a refined sense of perception. The stigma against blissfully unaware people is that they’re stupid and/or annoying. People seem to have to put up with or make excuses for these kinds of people. And while they may live their whole lives bumping along without any real care in the world, (I know, an exaggeration, but go with me here) all the awesome normal people of the world are giving each other “the look” behind their backs. Or in front of their faces. They are unaware, you know :).

There are two examples of some majorly annoying, cringe-inducing, “look” receiving unawares: Troy from work and Barb from school. I’m using their real names because there is no way they’ll ever read this blog. My work situation is profoundly absurd. I’ll probably dedicate an entire post to it in the near future. I am a poster child for the bad economy. When I moved to the twin cities I could only find a job at a…ahem…#soembarrassing…semi-truck dealership. I wish I was kidding. I’m not.

Here is the proof. Tragic, right? Thanks for the sympathy that I know you’re giving me. (Give me sympathy if you weren’t before kthnx) I really will get into the dirty deets of the job soon, I promise. One good thing I will quickly mention is that my workload is so profoundly light and absurdly easy I have a lot of time for this little blog of ours and other fun and exciting things like reading magazines or writing papers for school.

Back to the unaware guy at work named Troy. He’s 40-ish. Mentality of an 11 year-old with Tourette’s and ADD combined. Troy is one of the most unaware people I’ve ever encountered. He is married, which to me seems like a miracle since even the thought of having to be married to this guy makes me want to do this…

Everyone at work can’t stand him, but puts up with him nonetheless. It’s actually amazing he has kept his job. I’ve noticed every afternoon (except on days like today when he leaves at 3:00…after he just had impromptu 4 day weekend…ahem) he will run out the door and scream, “LET’S GO STREAKING!!!! WE’RE ALL GOING STREAKING!!!” No one ever goes streaking. We all sit. Give each other looks. Or try to ignore the situation completely. Once he realizes that no one, ever, under any circumstances, would like to see his business running through a lot full of of semis he will come back inside, defeated. It doesn’t stop him from screaming it again the next day. Troy also like to sing very loudly and make up songs. A favorite of mine was when he strolled through the sales floor and belted, “My name is TROOOOOOY and I am a BOOOOOY!” My philosophy when it comes to Troy is to just ignore everything he does. He feels like he won if he gets even the slightest bit of attention. I refuse to let him think that.

In my non-profit markting class is another student named Barb. Barb is also profoundly unaware. She is in her sixties and getting her MA. Why? I have no idea. I really don’t. She dyes her hair red. Shocker, it really doesn’t look all that natural. She has vomit-inducing long nails which she scraaaatches, scraaaatches on the table. She prefers animal print fabrics. If a clown were to borrow her make up tricks, he might not look all that different. And the lady just never.shuts.up. She is constantly interrupting the professor’s lecture to discuss her husband’s pulmonary hypertension. An obvious subject to interject a non-profit marketing class with, right? Totes. She also talks about her son like he is some kind of beacon of light from Heaven. Maybe I can go along with all of that if your kid is little and cute, but you know, once they hit 30, maybe you should give it up. Okay? Great. In last night’s class few of us, including Barb and myself, had to give a presentation. It was supposed to last 10 minutes. Her’s lasted almost 30. I’m pretty sure the professor just had no idea how to interrupt her… So awkward. Everyone in the class was giving each other “the look” right in front of her face. She had no idea.

Maybe I get a little bit neurotic at times, but I think that being given the ability to perceive situations can help you grow as an adult. The blissfully unaware are always going to be like that: the exception, the butt of the joke, and the receiver of the look.

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