Lube, social and otherwise
Greasing a squeaky wheel
In our lives, we must occasionally make the wheels of interaction clash together better. There are many ways to make the motion of the wheels of social interplay move more freely, the end result being all of us getting along and performing the business of our live without too much furor and other nonsense. MS add a curious quality of urgency and alarum to the entire process. Some say the daily life of the sclerotic isn't easy, both personally and while out in the open. Maybe this is right, but I don't think so. After nearly ten years of diagnosis, I'm finding it, more and more, lust the way of Life.
It Doesn't have to be Slick
When we say 'lubrication', we're usually talking about axle grease or Vaseline or WD40. Some physical substance is what comes to mind, something that can literally be applied to literal moving parts, machined parts.
What I am talking about today are the things we can throw into a living situation, into a conversation, into any interaction, which makes the time spent cordial or productive to our ends, whether cordiality is a part of the interchange or not. What makes things Work Right.
Think of any interchange between ourselves and anyone else. How do we address people in the usual way? If I meet someone, even inadvertently in the street, I might say, 'Good Morning, Sir.' It feels a little strange to say or even think this, because I live in Phoenix. It is a big, western, American city. It is built around and for the Car. If anyone, rich or poor, native or transient, wishes to travel within this city, it will be by car. I will walk if I have to but rarely. In America there is an unspoken but understood and assumed striation of the population. It, interestingly, is set up around the Car. If you don't have a car, you may just be a wanderer. You may be one of those odd fellows who try to win arguments against the Voices he hears. You may be desperate or one sought by the law. You may be dangerous. You might be able to read or, more likely, a poor soul, if literate, who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Frankly, if you don't have a car, you ought to go get one.
Unless you live in a large eastern city. If I lived in Manhattan, I would not own a car. The systems of mass transit there and anywhere else, I guess, where the geography forces a compression of living space, make walking practical. Phoenix, though, like many American cities, is a car town. Our social interchange is done in the end points of our local sojourns. The stores or restaurants or workplaces are the places where we use the social lubrication that is an integral part of us.
Baksheese and other Greases
Baksheese as crude Social Lubrication
You can pay a guy. You want an item or a service, he asks Cash of the Realm. You may barter a bit or just give him what he wants. You both smile. A handshake may be exchanged. That is not a payment of Baksheese. That is the kind of social business exchange which we all see daily and which is done without rancor, loud exchanges, exchange of hostages. Let alone gunplay. I wanted to get into the idea of bribes, 'rebates', the Sweetening of the Deal, anything which moves things along. I saw a British murder mystery the other day and the action was set on the continent of Europe. One of the main characters was conferring with another. Both were Englishmen. The main fellow says,'this isn't England. We'll have to bribe him.' As a note, it was evening and all the men wore tie-and-tail. I'm not sure I agree with the statement but the point is made: the exact lubrications to make everything work differs country to country or more properly, culture to culture.
Baksheese is defined as 'a tip or bribe to expedite service.' As I found out, a proper tip for a NYC cab driver is 10%. In the US, a restaurant tip is usually no less than 10%, more commonly 15%. Since I'm an easy touch, I usually tip 20% at least. A haircut is seen more as a strict business transaction but everyone I see usually tips a few dollars. My wife needs at least $15 for her salon tip. Good God.
The real point,I guess, is that in our culture the most basic interchanges are felt best ended with a smile.
A real bribe is something I've never done, except for once in Mexico where I expedited my service to avoid complications in a language I spoke poorly. I don't typically deal with bribes. I'd rather just tip heavily. Friends and family members I speak with on the topic tell me in some places Baksheesh is expected, is part of the cost of business, of travel, of living. A tour plan, I suppose, has such things built-in and the tourist (me) is insulated from this nitty gritty detail of life.
My home instruction centered around a few basic rules. I guess the central idea was Behave Yourself. Conversation in our house was civil. We did not swear or fight, either with fists or tongues. There was never any long term Feud . if there was any ongoing disagreement, the problem was brought out into the open and resolved..We learned to say, 'yes, ma'am ' or 'yes, sir' as a simple and usual form of address. I remember when my father stood my older brother and me up in the study one day and told us we must speak in this way. I've been doing this for years. It's also how I address my children. When I speak with anyone on the street, it is also with this polite address. It makes things go easier.
MS has taught me how important polite speech is. It is easy for me to become angry and unreasonable and downright nasty to someone, especially if I am tired or physically hot. This is embarrassing for me and usually stops any interchange dead. I hate that and I watch it very carefully.
Civilization as the culmination of Social Lubrication
What we commonly term 'Civilization' is just as the word says: it is the process, natural or acquired, of being civil to one another. The idea of allowing a pedestrian the assumed right to occupy and use a public thoroughfare, a road especially through open lands, was a fairly late development. Open roads through a a given noble's lands were not to be traveled upon except on a given order of that lord. Anybody else might expect bloody judgement, there in the road, without judge or jury.
Thank God for The Black Death. This rather unexpected appearance of Pasteurella pestis (I know the newer name, Yrsinia p but I like the old name better) did much to end Feudalism and allow serfs to meander along the roads of Europe looking for work they liked at higher pay. Until that time, the currency in England for the peasantry was basically centered on the Groat, the value of a day's work of common farm labor. It had the physical value of a quart of beer. To the educated, this value was 1/4 penny. With population decimation as a result of plague an increase in the value of work rose and the new understanding arose that roads belonged to the King not the local Count(A Count rules a County; in England, the same guy was called an Earl.). At that time It became the usual thing to see wanderers on the road.Since half the peasants in Europe were dead after 1251 or so, the wandering was accepted as normal and the Roads and their protection became the right and duty of the King. There wasn't a lot anybody could do to regularize things anyway. People had to become more polite to one another. Hence, when I walk on a public street now, I don't carry a firearm, nor do I attack those I meet as a matter of Course. Thank the Black Death!
Simple things that make Life go easier
We are trained as kids to speak politely to one another, at least at first. Interestingly, a mental image of a Mom unhappy at our behavior keeps most of us in line. Yes, clear, polite speech in helps us. Other things also work. We hold doors open for those older or infirm. Somebody holds a door open for me, for both reasons. My electric wheelchair helps. We also hold elevator doors open for those who scurry to get on. Also, we help those who are too late and have to wait. This is interesting. When someone hurries to get on an elevator, we let him pass unhindered. When someone misses an elevator, many act to help out in some way, if only to commiserate. This person is quickly absorbed into the waiting group. Again, the traveler is not disrupted in any way. Anarchists are in this way allowed to plant bombs and wreak other Havoc. Don't we love them. Especially when they are caught.
Life is nice, when normal, nonviolent ways of social lubrication are in common use. From outright bribery to quiet speech, we make our own ways through Life in other cultures and in our own.
More by this Author
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