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Friday 7th May, 2021

Bizarre Thought for the Week, w/c 5th May 2008
Tony Dobson

Hi all,
Longer ago than I would like to admit I endured the wait for my A level results. With two good results in the bag I looked at my Sociology result, and was more than a little surprised to read that I'd failed it. It bothered me a bit, but not as much as anyone would notice.

A matter of days later I went ten-pin bowling with some of my best friends. I played dreadfully, scoring somewhere in the 70s, and came home in a foul mood. My Mum was a bit perplexed in regard to why I was so annoyed with myself about that, but yet I'd not reacted like this to my Sociology result.

However the Sociology result had bothered me. It had sat in my mind over the course of those days, and festered as I questioned it (to myself - I felt an appeal would be a waste of time, especially as I still made it to my first-choice university). My abject performance at the bowling alley was merely a straw which broke the camel's back.

Why mention this now? Well a friend called up to apologise for forgetting my birthday last week. That would have probably been fine (I'm a forgiving idiot who can accept even the most insincere apology), but they actually apologised via my wife. This was in spite of the fact that I had answered the phone.

Given that it wasn't the most exciting birthday of all time I wasn't in a great mood, but that again was a final straw. Was it a deliberate act? It's highly unlikely, just a mere oversight, but at the end of a few other disappointments it was more than enough reason for me to start sulking.

Incidentally I did consider making this a thought about my worst ever birthdays, but thankfully it's a short list:
* My 16th (my Gran had recently died)
* My 17th (let's just say her initial were ST and I've not forgotten it)
* My 24th (completely forgotten by my workmates)

I don't know quite why extra straws seem to fall in your direction when things aren't going well. I remember a day at university when one bad thing after another happened. To top things off I came back to my Hall of Residence and found that someone had kicked my room's door in. It led to me sitting in my room, wondering about university life and what other students thought of me.

My thought process actually led someone to tell me that someone had just kicked the door in because they were drunk, and they didn't believe I wasn't in. It was random, an unfortunate incident which just happened to take place with my room. Nothing at all personal. It just seemed like it at the time. (The broken catch was replaced the next day. Unfortunately it didn't fit as well as the old catch, and so anytime anyone left my room my door didn't close itself, and I had to get up and close it myself. Ugh, the thankless tasks you have to undertake when you're eighteen.)

In a similar circumstance just under ten years later Lorraine and I found ourselves in one of those times where countless things needed to be repaired or replaced in the house. It just didn't seem to end, culminating one Sunday afternoon when we were meant to go to Lorraine's Mum and Dad's house. As you might have guessed that didn't happen. Instead of that we ended up going to RAC Auto Windscreens to get a car window replaced. Another final straw! Could we see a culprit? Nope. Had anyone seen anything? Nope. Typical. Had I over-reacted to what was probably an accident? Probably.

With the exception of my bowling inabilities (sad to say I don't think I've even broken 150 once) most of these final straws tend to be things which are beyond your own control. Looking bad it seems a bit odd that you can put up with so much and then one small thing is the tipping point.

Years ago I read a quote by the baseball player Mickey Rivers which I really liked. It sounds funny, and yet it is also pretty shrewd: "Ain't no sense worrying about the things you got control over 'cause if you got control over 'em, ain't no sense worrying. Ain't no sense worrying about the things you got no control over 'cause if you got no control over 'em, ain't no sense worrying." (If you're feeling a vibration just now that's probably my parents reading this and nodding. It'll stop soon.)

So the lesson appears to be that the final straws aren't the ones worth worrying about. They are just mere straws, not the significant bales. Furthermore should I get an apology in person from my forgetful friend I should probably accept it as genuine. It may have been a final straw last week, but it doesn't mean I should take it and burn it, because then it isn't any use to anyone.

Have a good week!

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