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Some Traits of Highly Ineffective People

September 24, 2013


I confess. I used to watch shameless hours of talk shows. And why not?  TV lulls.  It is repetition as reassurance. That’s why, as I always say, if you’ve seen one sensational lie detector test, just wait till you’ve seen all three hundred and fifty.

But aside from revelations, like, “Reader, you ARE…not the father,” I’m also a sucker for psychology in all its televised varieties–from porch to bumper sticker and every school of hard knocks and hackneyed wit in between. My favorite bit of brain sludge recently has been all this hub-bub about highly effective people. I find it all simply electrifying. Nothing will move me to tears of happiness faster than a recitation of such rare nuggets of wisdom associated with the successful (i.e., the rich) as “a positive self image” a “can-do attitude” and some attention to “hygiene.”

The only void I noticed in all that ethnography of the alpha-dogs barking among us is balance. Where’s the focus on the omega dogs some of us actually are? Aren’t mediocre folks and losers worthy of a list of characteristics as useful as the one really great parents consult when determining whether their teen is on drugs or not?

Forget about all those non-essential questions like: Does Junior seem to giggle uncontrollably with glassy eyes after being visited by a strange new friend he refers to as his “connect”?

Only those of us in the know, we talk show watchers, have the real skinny on the best diagnostic queries: “Does Junior seem aloof, dismissive, or, worse, angry, when you ask about his alleged drug use?”

Finally, here’s a list that will dissect the particulars of the world’s most highly ineffective people.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 8.00.51 AM1. Elevator Inelegance. You step into an elevator at midday with a murder of suits. One person automatically assumes the bellboy attitude pushing buttons and taking floor requests. Once the box moves, every pair of eyes flit up to scan the lighted numbers–all except one pair. Those belong to Mr. Ineffective, often mistaken for Peeping Tom or Weird Wendy, who will not fail to utilize any elevator ride as an opportunity to practice reckless eye-balling, loud nasal breathing, and very audible, menacingly slow snickering.

2. Soiled Filter. There are some naughty pranksters who like to shoot so fast from the hip, they’ve acquired a reputation for it. You know the type. You walk into the party with dirt on your chin and the first words outta their mouth is

Watch it there, Marilyn Monroe, your mole is migrating.

These types tell it like it is, even when what they’ve got to tell is not so nice. They have no filter. Well, ineffective people have filters. Only their filters are  very dirty though seldom very interesting:

Hey, everybody, look who’s got dog poo on their chin. Ha ha. What’ve you been doing? Huh? Putting dog poo on your chin.

3. Fin Shake. Go-getters give you that Johnny America handshake with some starch in the grip and lots of enamel in your face. Right when you want to scream or wince a little they let go. Ineffective people don’t do vice grips. Shaking hands with them leaves you wondering about the humidity. Inevitably clammy hands are only made worse for having the tensile strength and texture of a slice of deli cheese.

4. Helpless Wanted. You can always spot the ineffective at work. When you feel your temperature rising, look across the counter and there they are. If you’re being ignored at a government office or suffering a thousand deaths while waiting in line at a facility related to medicine, law, insurance, automobiles, or personal banking, don’t worry. You’re soul is being pitchforked by professionals. If your business involves food, retail, education, credit cards, or utilities, however, beware. The inefficient lurk half asleep in every cubicle, eating lunch-time sandwiches with sauces purling onto their chests at every chair.

Screen Shot 2015-03-29 at 8.08.03 AM5. Today! (is a dumb show). They say tomorrow is not a day but a rug losers sweep their dreams under. They are probably the same “they” who run marathons, read fine print, and floss. For the ineffective, Teevo makes yesterday happen today. Right now, in fact. You see, the ineffective are part of a “they” who say TV is pretty cool and so are some shows on there. But being on time for stuff is difficult and that made being a punctual fan of shows impossible. Until Teevo. Of course, for most ineffective boob-tubers, Teevo is a utility that “used to work”–like the toaster on the roof–before service got shut off. Stupid bills! The ineffective are on it, though. They’ve been writing insistent letters to the head office–none of that e-mail nonsense. They mean business.

6. Gittin’er Done Irregardless. Seemingly without ambition, witless, and having less inner spark than a wet match, the ineffective still make strong advancements in language. Without even knowing it themselves, they have changed the official tongue with their ever-eroded patois. Their misprision yesterday enters the OED as acceptable today. Don’t bother telling them about duct tape. The box store sells it back to them labeled “Duck Tape” in quacking droves for them to make wallets for their duckets. They don’t know about the ascendancy of ducks. They’ll call it that irregardless of the rules. The rule has become a mute point to them, really mute, because moot is just weird and so gardeners nothing but weedy silence. They would of said duck anyhows because power to the people–and in the field of language as in no other–to the ineffective ones.

Beyond these traits, here’s a few questions to help you diagnose Junior’s effectivity:

  • Does Junior miss catching public transportation at appointed times?
  • Is Junior reduced to public transportation after losing a vehicle to accumulated parking or speeding tickets, or because his primary vehicle has something minor “busted” on it and has been awaiting repair in the rust-inducing elements for more than a month?
  • Has Junior been considering a career in politics or cable TV installation?

If so, then Junior just may be ineffective. If you answered yes to all, then Junior is most certainly a highly ineffective person.

  1. I find, after years of living with arthritis, that I actually prefer the wet fish handshake to the vice-grip handshake. But I see your point.

    And what is it with “Train Wreck Television” that sucks us in? The “you are NOT the father”, Honey Boo Boo, Kardashians on crack, and Bridezilla!?! I sit there stunned and can’t seem to change the channel.

    • That’s just where “they” want us. Or is it? Drooled out on TV, how on earth are we going to be effective enough to make the dollars needed to buy all the stuff these televised jokers are trying to sell us?

  2. I think you’re being a bit hard on these ineffectives. I spend my life feeling ineffectual, with occasional moments of ‘ah hah!’. It’s children, really, that do it to you. You start out in life feeling full of bobbance and bounce, and then teenagers creep into your room at night and give you a lobotomy (at least, that’s my theory) and hey presto, you’re shuffling down to the post office in your carpet slippers with that packet of curling sandwiches in your pocket.

    • Ha! I think you’re right Elaine. And, for the record, this post is written at twilight, in a hybrid atmosphere. One foot in the realm of the sardonic. The other, solidly on the ground of solidarity.

  3. Nice post. I would also add mindless games and apps as a fine ingredient for ineffective behavior. Candy Crush Saga? How many seemingly intelligent people endlessly play it? I’d love to see the stats on the total number of hours the average person plays that time vampire.

    • I would tend to agree with you. But there’s room in that direction for some highly effective time wasters. I know some outstanding slouches who get downright competitive when it comes to the scores and hours they rack up mashing buttons. Some lazy-bones out there are actually highly effective people in hiding from themselves.

  4. Repetition as reassurance. Very well put. Maybe that’s why I’ve seen every episode of Friends at least 27 times now.
    Seriously, every one.

    • That’s a key example. Some theorists would say the utter predictability of the situation comedy is one of the most extreme formats of repetition as reassurance. The timed, expected waves of canned laughter at jokes that aren’t really funny…it’s never about humor, but about cozening predictability. A sit-com like Friends makes the chaos of actual family life, actual friends, life in an actual New York City, seem so… reassuring.

      • I feel so … dissected…
        Makes sense, though. I love how theory can be fascinating, enjoyable and deeply unsettling all at the same time.

  5. Just so you know, I stopped flossing. I realize that my dental hygiene is genetically predispositoned to suck and no amount of brushing, flossing, or professional cleaning by dentists will change that. I refuse to fight a losing battle. Does this make me ineffective completely? Or maybe just dentally? (I also have a nearly uncontrollable desire to kick people who say ‘duck tape’ and ‘irregardless’ right in the gonads. The fact that my phone does not indicate that ‘irregardless’ is misspelled, and in fact non-existant, makes me want to flush it down the toilet.)

    • I sympathize completely. But, I’m afraid your poor phone is merely the messenger. Those non-words are now perfectly acceptable words–legitimate and currently recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary. Vox Populi is tone deaf.

  6. Great post, enjoyed it! Though I no longer watch TV, I can relate to the lull”ness”, the reassurance. I guess, some habits turn into fossils instead of completely going away.

  7. LOL! OMG where is my popcorn, I need popcorn for this site! Highly entertaining… TY

  8. I lament that no one stands “buck naked” anymore, they’re now “butt naked” thanks to the language changes wrought by the ineffective — who, by the way, could care less what they’re doing.

    Excellent post! Keep fighting the good fight.

    • Well, not to be competitive with my mediocre familiars, but I am proud to say that folks in my company refer to it as “bucked” naked–whatever that means–so there.

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