It’s about time for another one of these, wouldn’t you say? Given that I haven’t posted a Profile in Tyranny for a while, you might think that I’ve managed to go a few weeks without running into somebody I’d like to hit over the head. And you’re correct. It’s been a good November.
Before we begin, though, it’s important to point out that your tyranny can be large or small. The word tyranny generally implies an awesome and all-encompassing strategy of systematic oppression, but it doesn’t have to be that way. You can tyrannize in small, everyday kinds of ways. Like my tyrant today did.
This morning I spent an hour or so taking care of a shipment of books that has come to my office. Each of the boxes is around 45 pounds, and there are a million of them. The actual number is around 90, but after you’ve lugged 70 45-pound boxes up and down a flight of stairs, it starts to feel like a million.
Anyway, in order for me to take my books from where they are to where they need to be, I have to open a door that swings towards me, which involves one of three things:
1) Me balancing a box on one hand while I open the door with the other (which I can do, by the way, because I am enormously muscular and will soon make my big break on the World’s Strongest Man competition alongside my tire-throwing mentor Bill Kazmaier, one of the luminaries in the rarefied world of lifting ridiculously heavy things and putting them right back down).
2) Trying to balance the box on one raised knee while I stab wildly at the door with my briefly free hand. For a split second, this approach makes me look like The Heisman Trophy, until the box slips out of my hands and blocks the door I’m trying to open, which means I end up having to push it out of the way, open the door, and then pick it up again.
3) Opening the door with my elbow, which is not only fun to do but adorable to watch.
Option 1 got used up after the 35th trip, and option 2 made me want to set all my boxes of books on fire after about the 50th trip. Which means that for the last 40, I’ve been stuck with option 3. I look like a penguin trying to fly, flapping my useless vestigial winglets in a hopeless attempt to gain some altitude. Except I’m just a one-winged penguin, which is doubly stupid.
By now you’ve got to be wondering: where’s the tyrant in all this?
I’ll tell you where he is. He’s standing right beside the door between trips 55 and 62, watching me open the door with my elbow and making absolutely no move to help me. He has arms, and legs, and he wasn’t on his phone. He was just watching. We made eye contact. More than once.
Look, you don’t always have to let me merge in traffic, because sometimes I’m being a jerk and driving as far as possible down the upcoming construction lane just so I don’t have to wait my fair share of the time. And you don’t always have to say ‘Hi!’ back when I say hello to you, because sometimes you’re busy or distracted or just didn’t hear me. But when you stare directly into my eyes while I’m holding a 45-pound box and don’t shuffle two feet to your left to save me the trouble of opening the door with my elbow, that’s when I mentally cross you off of my Christmas list.
And don’t even get me started on people who don’t hold the elevator.