McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • The cold shoulder theory

  • Science will one day validate my observations.
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  • Science will one day validate my observations.
    Oh, it will.
    For I have discovered a connection between two behaviors that hint at an unseen hand pushing humankind toward certain invariable outcomes.
    What ties the two behaviors together is my theory of the universe's tendency toward petty aggravation.
    In the first case study, we look at a restaurant's patron.
    He is unremarkable in virtually every respect. He enters a restaurant. He is seated.
    He orders his meal from the waitress. His gender is not important. He could be a woman, but then we would refer to him as she.
    The meal itself is likewise unimportant but for the purpose of our discussion let's say it's dinnertime and the patron has ordered Swiss steak. The steak's ethnicity is not of any actual importance. The point is that he has ordered a meal.
    The Swiss steak comes with mashed potatoes, and green beans. He orders a side salad to complement his meal. He had a soup option, but it was pea soup and he doesn't like pea soup. These details are, once again, without any relevance whatsoever.
    For here is the relevant part. Pay attention.
    It is precisely at that moment when the man's mouth is filled and he is chewing with gusto that the waitress suddenly appears at his shoulder to inquire sweetly, "How is everything?"
    This can be no accident. There's something deeper at work.
    A skeptic might venture to observe that perhaps the waitress just thinks it's funny. That she retires to the kitchen after the patron's embarrassed full-mouthed mumble, "Mmmpphh veby goodbuh," to share the incident with fellow wait staff and giggle.
    Au contraire, as the French would say.
    For let us examine the second case study.
    In this scenario, we look at an office employee. Like our restaurant patron, he is unremarkable in virtually every respect.
    Except for one.
    He's a hard worker, incredibly dedicated.
    He's the kind of model employee whose behavior inspires instructional software.
    He is seated at his desk, eyes affixed to his computer monitor as he tears through sundry work-related tasks over the course of many hours.
    Now, once again, pay close attention.
    The office employee toggles over to Google news to check Lindsay Lohan's latest sentencing video. It is precisely at that moment when the office employee's boss appears at his shoulder to inquire sweetly,
    "What're you working on?"
    It can be a cold universe.
    Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England's Plymouth office, and can be reached at fmulligan@wickedlo
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