self-esteem extremes

Last night, I had occasion to search through my archived emails, and in doing so I discovered a story of my day which I related at the time to cheer up a friend. It was an offhand account, but it's also nevertheless word for word a true account, and I share it with you now because it is simply too amusing not to.

Identities have not been changed, because there are no innocents in this story.

Enter stage-left, Neal and Deb, who are clearly talking shit, as per their normal practice, but the details are not important and so we watch them get into the car (Deb with slightly more difficulty because she is attacked and harangued by belligerent garbage bins in the process) before we hear their conversation. There's a pause. Neal puts on his seatbelt.

Deb: Oh! Yes, seatbelt. Good idea. Yes. I'll do that.

Neal: Hey, it's your life you'll be saving and all.

Deb: Oh! Yes. Although I was just thinking about your licence points. Which is important.

There is a moment of silence.

Deb: You know, I think there's something wrong with me, isn't there? Because apparently I just rated your LICENCE POINTS higher than, you know, my LIFE.

Neal: Well, dude, I did wonder about it myself — and clearly you have some sort of self-esteem issues going on — but I wasn't about to bring you even further down by pointing it out. Although I do thank you for your concern over my licence points.

Deb: I think I need counselling.

3 thoughts on “self-esteem extremes

  1. The following perspective is from that of a quantitative type who has to fill out Health, Safety and Environment risk management forms every other month.

    Of course the likelihood of your chauffeur losing some licence points is significantly higher than Deb hurtling head-first towards the windscreen to keep an appointment with an ugly, gruesome, spinal injury that leaves her able to communicate only by blinking her left eye.

    Thus, it makes sense that the points losing could be something that more readily comes to mind than the unlikely disastrous outcome. We don't necessarily need to resort to an appeal to undesirable self-esteem issues to provide a plausible explanation. (That being said, the said self-esteem issues are of course not ruled out by this alternative explanation.)

    Fortunately, in this case, the points losing thought and the fear of death thought both point in the same remedial direction – putting on the seat belt, so it doesn't matter so much that you remembered one but not the other. And this is no coincidence – it is precisely the objective of the points system, (as an administrative control in response to the accident risk) to align the incentives.

    Yours economically, rationally, quantitatively, and downright completely dismissive of any emotional import in your contemporary morality tale,

    Thomas (Spock) Brinsmead (B. Eng)

    1. …Thomas, I think you've worked for the bureaucracy too long. You just put forth a thesis defending OH&S and the inane box-ticking that comes out of it. Have yourself a good long hard think. Preferably accompanied by your own body weight in bourbon.

      (But I thank you for trying to put forth reasons why I'm not clinically insane.)

  2. Nice of you to graciously suggest that my perspective is the outcome of brainwashing by bureaucratic form filling. Unfortunately the deficiency goes back far earlier than that, at least to Engineering Risk Management 101. It's quite possible that there may even be a genetic component. I'm only letting you know this for your own good to warn you to be on your guard – given some of your alter egos (including those involving long periods of consciousness immersion in bureaucratic environments – you know what you are), if you are not careful you may find you yourself similarly afflicted in a moment of weakness. 😉

Comments are closed.