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My Life as a Wild-Eyed Conspiracy Theorist? January 16, 2015

Posted by michaelnjohns in Uncategorized.

An anonymous source once quipped, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean everyone is out to get you.”  And an anonymous reply came back, “just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean no one is out to get you.”

When Mary Poppins measured Michael (hey, kids, that’s MY name TOO!), the measuring tape read, “Michael. Extremely stubborn and suspicious.”  I didn’t start out in life this way, but that’s how I’ve ended up.  I started out relatively innocent. No, strike that.  I started out pretty naïve.  I wouldn’t currently describe myself as paranoid, but I did turn out “extremely stubborn and suspicious.”  Just like Michael in Mary Poppins.


Because people with agendas that don’t involve being nice and helping others have interacted with me.  And the sciences conspire against me. It’s not that no one else hasn’t had a bad experience with another person, or with something basic like physics.  It’s just that I let it bother me more than I think other people do.  People lie, cheat, steal, cut other people off in traffic, they’re selfish, demanding, ungrateful, and unloveable in so many ways.  And physics?  Anyone else feel like everything they own is looking for a chance to fall to the ground and break, or be as difficult as possible to manage, or require a routine action to be performed at least twice before being successful?  Doors that won’t close unless you make them, and hold them that way so they don’t reopen.  Cups that fall and break.  No, it’s not a poltergeist.  It’s basic physics.  And physics, including gravity, acts in perfect obedience to the laws of physics, but in all-out rebellion against me.  Name it, it doesn’t do what I want, at least not the first time.  Or never.  Things fall apart.  I hate this reality of life and refuse to accept the inevitability of it.  I realize it’s the truth, but I don’t want it to be the truth.  I want reality to bend to my whim.

Some have mastered physics.  Basketball players who have practiced until their shots are flawless and effortless.  Quarterbacks whose passes always go where they are intended.  The ball goes where they want it to go.  Car drivers who can maneuver a car and make stunt driving look like child’s play.  The car goes where they want it to go.  Artists who can make a pencil or a paintbrush do magical things, capturing the perfect image.  Plumbers who have mastered fluid dynamics and they can make the toilet flush backward if they want to do that (take that, Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis)  I’m so jealous of their abilities.  Others, including me, botch it and make several rough drafts while trying for the final one.  Except sometimes, doing it over and over, and still failing, makes me want to throw a fit.

Go ahead and laugh, because it’s funny.

Some have mastered people skills.  They smarm and they schmooze and they do it so effortlessly you don’t even realize they’re lying to you and taking advantage of you until after you’ve signed on the dotted line, by which time the slick, greasy fast-talkers have skipped town with your money.  They tell you the offer is fair, knowing it’s actually to their advantage.  They’ll promise you things, and you’ll find out they were lies after it’s too late to call them on it.  They’ll tell you a price, only to send you to the sales office where they up the ante by at least $3,000  You’ve been in their offices before.  See, that’s yesterday’s article about getting it in writing.  And it’s why I don’t feel like I can trust anyone.

I don’t trust politicians, for instance, or used car salesmen.  Or new car salesmen.  Or salesmen, or FSBO Homeowners, or Employment Agencies, or insurance companies, or …  Well, I could go on, but everyone would be on that list, or at least anyone whose category I’ve had a bad experience with.  Sorry about that, everyone.  I just don’t trust you after you lie to me or cheat me.  So if you’re going to do that, make it good the first time, because there won’t be a second time.   No more verbal contracts for me.  If you say it, I’m gonna have you put that in writing and sign off on it before I commit. Politicians say stuff all the time, to get elected and then they blame the other guy(s) for why they couldn’t do what they promised to do.  The joke goes, Q: How do you know a politician is lying?  A: His/Her lips are moving.  Some recent politicians have told some doozies of lies, but they’re telling them so fast it’s difficult to keep up, and the press loved certain ones (or were well compensated to tell us to love them) and kind of spun the stories off, distracted lots of people, and pushed them on the world whether we wanted them or not.  is it a wild-eyed conspiracy?  Maybe.  Or maybe not. But I didn’t vote for certain politicians the first time, and I certainly didn’t vote for those politicians when they ran for reelection because the lies were already obvious the first time.  To me.  But they’ve swept all the suspicion away, the sheep are supposed to trust, and the wolves are guarding us carefully.  Or so I suspect.  We have the politicians that we have, and I’ll just pray for them to be kept safe because I dislike chaos even more than I dislike spun news.  People talk about certain ideas, and communicate either thinly veiled, or open, threats, whenever someone gets into office that they don’t like.  I think those people should be locked up for even saying it.  And if they ever did try it, God forbid, well, let the punishment fit the crime, or be more severe if possible.

I love a good conspiracy theory.  The terra-forming jet trails.  The alien coverups.  The Global Warming.  (sorry if you buy that one, but I don’t, I have my reasons).  The Illuminati.  The wilder the X-file, the better as long as you make it sound plausible.  But I’m not making those kinds of leaping logic, I-want-to-believe connections on my corkboard,  But there’s a novel in all my paranoid fantasies of things-made-right somewhere, or maybe a miniseries.  I’ll dig it out later.  It’s about a guy who quietly exacts fair and reasonable revenge against people who are evil and deceptive. Lie to a candidate for employment about their salary or benefits, get them to sign and then pull the rug out?  Quote a price and raise it after they’re committed?  Charge exorbitant interest and penalties?  Deny coverage you promised?  Bait and switch?  Take advantage of some helpless person?  It’s an injustice I want to see remedied.  But alas, justice is blind, and most people don’t have the time or money to pursue what’s actually right.  I love TV shows like that, where people make it their secret mission to fix it, to help the helpless, to exact revenge.  Leverage.  Dexter.  Back in ancient TV history it was The A-Team and Knight Rider, and before that it was The Saint, To Catch a Thief, The Lone Ranger, The Avengers, and shows like that.  You dislike the evil character, and celebrate when their comeuppance comes.  Up.

There was a brilliant movie called “The Villain” that had me laughing a long, long time ago, back when I couldn’t actually believe people could be as evil as the title character. I grew up and the next movie like that was “Home Alone.”  These shows have bad people with bad intentions who don’t get what they want.  “The Villain” was compared to Wile E. Coyote, but I can’t make that connection other than the fact that physics is their worst enemy.    Wile E. Coyote is just a hungry wild animal doing what animated hungry wild animals do.

We humans have no excuse, unless we claim the title, “wild animal.”  And what should be done with a wild animal that’s in the habit of hurting people?

When my stuff is stuffed correctly, it stays where it’s stuffed, until I go after it.  And then it feels like I have to move all of creation to get to what I want, buried in the back there somewhere behind everything else I don’t want.  That’s when things start to fall, and fall apart, most often.  Laugh again.  Usually my family has hidden whatever I want because that’s not important to them.  Whatever they put in front is more important, or they just put something away in the wrong place.  But wrong is relative, because “wrong’ is only my opinion.

In the show Dexter, there is a season in which Dexter is trying to integrate into his marriage, and move his stuff out of his old place and into his new place.  Initially he decides to try to keep his old apartment because he can afford it and it’s simpler.  She pressures him in ways I don’t think are fair, into giving up the place.  But then, when he tries to put his stuff into her house, there’s no place for him to put his stuff.  I feel like that.  I need my own place to put my stuff, and our house isn’t big enough.  There are no free wall spaces big enough to put up pictures I like.  There are no surfaces clear enough to put my keys and my wallet.  The old joke is that “feng shui” is an ancient Chinese expression that means “his crap goes in the garage.”  Except the garage is filled with her crap.  I mean “our” crap.  Lawn mower, I get that.  Kids bikes, I get that.  Even Christmas decorations, I suppose I get that.  But there’s clutter I can’t throw away because it isn’t really “mine” to dispose of.  I’m pressed in and the walls are coming closer.  Feel it, anyone?  I can’t even park my car inside the so-called “two-car” garage. When I get upset about these things, and want to throw them out, someone in my family doesn’t want me to act upset.  Or throw them out.  Which upsets me.  Repeat.

Things and people are out to get me.  Things wear out, don’t fit, don’t have a place to go that’s reasonably convenient, or don’t behave like I want them to.  People don’t do what I want.  Things, and people, waste my time and/or take advantage of me when it serves their nefarious purposes.  (Hahahahaha!  I used “nefarious.”)

Even the price of products, and the quality of products, is suspect.  I paid too much and it broke, and unless I paid even more for a warranty, if they even offered a warranty, I’m out of luck.  Or the warranty doesn’t cover what the seller decides is covered.  And is the demand, and the quality, really sufficient to support the price, or is there some investor who’s demanding a bigger slice of profit margin, driving the price higher?  A certain food retailer from a certain U.S. state sells a certain kind of fried bird, and other delicious things, and they call it a “meal.”  But the “meal” price doesn’t include a drink.  I don’t know about you, but when I sit at home it’s not a “meal” unless I have a beverage.  And the price I’m paying for the “meal” seems high enough already, without tacking on an extra two dollars for a drink.

Don’t get me started about car salesmen or former employers.  It was a long time ago, but I haven’t forgotten.  When the senior exec paid himself my annual salary, twice a day, and I was having a hard time making ends meet, I looked for a different job.  Eventually I escaped, but it wasn’t better.  “Meet the new boss:  Same as the old boss,” says the song. It was a long time ago but I haven’t forgotten.  When the temp agency owner lied to me about the starting salary, and then lied to me about the raise I’d get after 90 days, and the out-of-pocket cost for benefits and survival rose annually, faster than my salary kept up, I wished for the Leverage team to come to my aid.  And they didn’t come.  You, temp agency owner, you know who you are.  Liar. Cheat.  Cheapskate.  Evil villain.  You drive a BMW and wear fancy suits, but you are a small, greasy man who should be standing in a vacant used car lot trying and failing to sell used cars, with a small, unreformed-Grinch-black, greasy heart and an evil, greasy spirit.  Years have passed, lessons have been learned, and now I’ll get it in writing instead of taking anyone’s word for it ever again.  Because we used to shame people whose word was worthless, now we celebrate them and throw them investment money for being “frugal.”  But they’re cheap.  It’s been a long time, but I haven’t forgotten.  When the car company fixed our car “motor,” and the “engine” blew up and the company said they didn’t cover the “engine” in their repair warranty, only the “motor,” as if somehow these were separate and distinct parts.

Why don’t I trust people?  Because I’ve been cheated and hurt and lied to.  (Cue the country song, or your favorite tiny tiny, crying violin)  Why am I still profoundly introverted?  Because I’ve felt rejected.  Why have I not risen to the top of the heap and become a success yet?  I blame myself.  Because if I could put the past behind me quicker, and move on quicker, and roll with life’s punches, and everyone feels them, I might have been more successful.  Why don’t I get what I want?  I lack perseverance, I’m easily frustrated, and feel like the battle is already lost and isn’t worth taking arms against.  It’s my fault.

People pay for drug tests and background screens before they hire them for a job.  Why are they necessary?  Because employers lose money when they hire drug addicts.  Because if you didn’t get the master’s degree you claimed, maybe you’re not smart enough or durable enough to stay at the job and do what needs to be done.  I get that.  But I wish the process worked both ways.  I want a background check, including polygraph-driven reference checks, before I work for them.  Before I buy a car from them.  Before I go to their church or join their group.  Before I make a costly commitment of any kind.  Because when I make a promise I still believe I’m supposed to keep my word.  The world doesn’t work that way, Michael.  Get over it.  Maybe I should lower my standards and lie and cheat and steal and cut people off in traffic and run the light while it’s red, and cut in front of people who’ve been waiting their turn in line.  But I’d feel bad, because I still have a conscience that tells me those things are wrong.  Just because you get away with it, doesn’t mean it’s right.  I wish people all had functioning consciences, so right would be right, and no one would do wrong.  But then we wouldn’t have 3/4 of the news.  A tenth of the news at least is the weather and sports, and that leaves a small percentage I won’t calculate for you, for amusing, or fun, human interest and local events stories.  Sure, there would be natural disasters, I suppose.  But just imagine if there were no bombings, murders, rapes, robberies, rampaging terrorists, thefts, assaults, lying, cheating, divorcing, or hating celebrities, or traffic accidents (because most of those are caused by someone who is being a selfish (deleted))!  Picture it!  The news would have nothing to investigate, and they’d have to report on the good stuff.  Now THAT’s a good dream.  For now, I don’t even watch because I know what they’re going to tell me:  “The world is coming to an end!  There is no hope!  Have a nice day! (smile, laugh, gleam)”  Cut to commercial.

Alas, the world hasn’t changed.  If it has changed, it’s just getting worse.  And until it changes, for the better, I’m going to suspect that It’s a conspiracy against me, a personal vendetta. The world has it out for me and won’t be happy until I’m poverty stricken, clinically insane, or dead.  Maybe you feel the same way.  Maybe you’ve been cheated, hurt, lied to, too.  Maybe it’s a conspiracy against both of us.  I need to make a hat.  Pass the tin-foil, would you please?



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