As a Stoic, it’s my goal to accept things as they come. That means not wishing away a flat fire or tummy ache or worse. Acknowledge the moment, deal with it head on. Notice that I said it’s my “goal”. As a typically flawed human being, it can take a little time for stoicism to kick in.
Some irritants are universal. Tailgaters. Loud public cellphone talkers. Shoppers who bunch up close in line or tell the cashier their life story while you wait. Social distancing has taken care of some of these things. But we should deal with the rest. The Stoic tries to be patient. But let’s be honest, in these instances it’s usually thoughtless people thinking only about themselves. Or is it?
The Dutch Solution
In the Netherlands they took a truly kind approach to one of these annoying, recurring incidents. A supermarket chain there now has a Kletassa – chat checkout – in some of its stores. No more waiting for gabby Gladys to finish her story. Gladys gets her own lane where she’s free to talk all she wants. By this time next year, there’ll be a couple hundred Kletessas across the nation
The company is building on a Dutch government initiative called One Against Loneliness. When they realized that 1.3 million Dutch residents are over age 75, and many live alone, they set up a network of home visits and chat lines.
The chat checkouts remove the annoyance for everyone else and give the older person the attention they crave. It’s brilliant. And it’s kind.
This idea could be applied to other things. A beverages-only lane at the drive-thru so food orders get their own slower lane. Why should you have to wait for your medium double-double while the person ahead of you is ordering a half dozen bagels with different fillings? You shouldn’t. Block data in stores where loud cellphone talkers are prevalent. Seriously. We survived for generations without being accessible every second of the day. A five minute stop at Dollarama won’t hurt anybody.
The other day I had to walk through a small crowd of kids smoking outside a bank. There was no alternative. It pisses me off because I’m allergic and get an almost immediate headache. Not to mention, it’s illegal. They were blocking the No Smoking signs. But no one wants to enforce these bylaws. So, install a smoke-triggered sprinkler system. One cold shower should be enough to get the point across. Is it kind? Not really. But it’s effective!
I can’t think of a kind way to deal with tailgaters either. A flamethrower is my best solution.
Imagine if we had fixes for all irritants. An irritant-free world. Could we even stand it? I know I’d like to try.