My choice to avoid choices


I’m throwing up the white flag. My will to run with the big dogs has decided to curl up for a nap on the porch, and I will no longer attempt to bail water from a sinking boat with a teaspoon. It’s been said that a wise man knows his limitations and, lack of personal wisdom aside, I realize when I’ve met my match.

I will no longer make decisions.

Let me be more specific here. I’m not talking about occupational or family-related decisions — those are required of me by the very laws of self-preservation. No, the choices I will forever more avoid making are the ones I’m least prepared to make. Those decisions that seem to be presented at the moment you are least equipped to make one, when you feel like the business at hand is business put to rest. Something like, oh, I don’t know ... how about this for example?

“Wheat, white, rye, pumpernickel, bagel, panini, cinnamon raisin, piece of shoe leather or a small portion of the left ear lobe from a vampire we staked this very morning?”

“Umm ... white?”

“Toasted, untoasted, warm, cold, waved gingerly over a small blue flame in a clockwise motion or shot out of a cannon onto a used lacrosse jersey soaking in garlic butter?”

See what I’m saying?

The very labor of selecting something to eat from a menu is often very exhausting to me. There are either so many things that look good at that particular moment in time, or there is just nothing jumping off the list that makes the three hairs on my head stand at attention. When I do go through my mental pro-con list, and come up with the perfect choice on what to eat, there is a sense of good beating evil, of satisfaction over a hard job done well, of sun burning through an early morning San Francisco fog. It is the unrivaled euphoria of instant clarification, plain and simple.

And then, with a self-satisfied look on my face, I recite my order to the server — only to be knocked right back down that sliding board of despair and into a wading pool of confusion.

Fine, maybe that was a bit melodramatic, but it still stings. It’s like going 4-5 in a baseball game and having your father rip you the whole ride home for not pulling that inside pitch on the at bat you made an out, even though you did right what you were supposed to with a guy on second and no outs and moved that runner over with a groundball to the right side ...

But I digress.

My frustration with the choice phenomenon is more a problem with myself than the individual practicing good customer service, I know that. Besides, the very heart of what makes America so very great is our ability to choose our own paths, to mark our own futures and to have our cinnamon toast however we see fit. But, see, I’m weak in these instances.

It’s not only the choices at restaurants that throw me under the emotional bus. No, no, that would be far too easy for me. Allow me to provide another example.

I’m at the drug store the other night, $45 worth of goods in my hands and maybe $3 in my pocket. The math not quite adding up, I realized I was going to have to confront my demons and pull out the plastic.

As soon as the card hit the card reader next to the register, the choices from the helpful cashier began.

“Is that credit or debit?”

“Debit.”

“Is the amount on the reader correct?”

“It looks that way.”

“Would you like cash back?”

“No, thanks.”

“Would you like the reader to scan your card for imperfections, put you on a mailing list for that rather odd ointment you’re purchasing or guess your age, weight or birth month?”

Yikes.

No, it doesn’t stop there. This non-stop barrage of questions and selections strikes us at every corner. Every moment is saturated with wave after wave of decisions and options to ponder, and each one of them paralyzes me in fear like John Denny talking to a pretty girl at a party. It truly never ends:

• “Would you like fries or onion rings?”

• “Sweet or unsweet?”

• “On the rocks, or will you just throw the bottle up to your lips and run around in circles while singing Irish Tenors songs again this week?”

So, from this point forth I vow to not be held hostage to the panic of choices and will thrust myself onto the dagger of the first selection offered. Yes, it is technically a choice, but it is a decision ultimately made by those presenting the options since I am going to go with the first utterance, if I like that choice or not.

Yeah, that will show them.