Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Consider yourself blessed

I've worked in an office environment for nigh onto 3 decades now and I've learned one definite way you can categorize your co-workers. There are those who follow every sneeze within hearing with an immediate "bless you" and those who don't. I don't. I find it hard to participate in an activity that I find, well, ridiculous. I know that today it's more of a courtesy than anything else, but it's really pointless if you think about it. Maybe our ancestors thought they were doing some good with this little exercise, but we modern folks know that your spirit isn't going to escape from you if someone doesn't perform a quick "bless you" to prevent it.

Ok, there's another way to categorize your co-workers. Those that get their feelings hurt if they don't hear "bless you" and those that don't. I receive at least one "bless you" everytime I sneeze at the office. I say "thank you" and go about my business. But then you wonder how those blessers feel when it's them who sneeze and you ignore the opportunity to reciprocate by taking the role of blessor. I'm sorry. I just can't utter a blessing that I find unnecessary and that nobody on the other side is listening to anyway. (Well, I hope not. If there's an abacus in the great office upstairs keeping a running tab on sneeze blessings, I'm in serious trouble.)

Likewise, I find the clinking of wine glasses to be an embarrassing ritual. Again, our ancestors probably had a good reason for sloshing their wine together to ensure that nobody slipped them any poison, but for pity's sake what other good purpose does it serve? Yeah, I do it, but I always feel ridiculous. Like I've been caught skipping cracks for fear of breaking my mother's back.

Do you ever consider how many things we do because ggggg-grandpappy did them for some good reason that vanished several centuries ago? We are products of our raising and we can't escape the influence of several generations of ritual "because that's the way I was taught". In some ways it could be viewed as a comforting thread that runs from generation to generation, passing along the ways of people whose blood runs in your veins. That's the excuse I use when I fall victim to uttering some verbal colloquialism that my co-workers have never heard. But that's another essay for another day.

Thankfully I'm not superstitious. If you believe in these little rituals, more power to you, and I'm sorry if you're offended because I don't acknowledge your sneeze. Just consider yourself blessed and don't feel obligated to bless me the next time hay fever season arrives.


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