Kittens, Justin Bieber and Walmart – from cute to annoying

cute kittenSince I’ve joined the Facebook community, I’ve noticed just how many sickeningly cute pictures and videos there are of cats.  I’m pretty sure the people who were the brain thrust of the internet didn’t have snoring kittens in mind.

If you know me, you know I’ve never been much of a cat lover, but I do admit that kittens have their charm.  Those doey eyes, fluffy fur and curious nature are hard to resist…until they’re not cute anymore.  Then they just pee on your stuff and shred the corners of your favourite furniture.

Puppies, with their over-sized paws clumsily bound around the house, knocking over kids and plants, and they constantly fall down the stairs – adorable!  Then they get big, and they become a smelly, hairy pain in the tush.  Then, when they knock stuff over, it’s ‘outdoors, Rover!’

Even Canada’s You Tube export, Justin Bieber was cute at one point.  With his wispy hair-do and sickeningly sweet tones.  Not any more!  Now there’s a petition to have him extradited back to Canada.  Somewhere along the line, his irresistible charm tarnished badly.

It’s funny how we view things – there was an ad a while ago, I think for a car company, where they compared a squirrel to a rat.  Basically, visually speaking, they look the same, except that the squirrel has a nice big bushy tail.  Everyone loves squirrels but hates rats…presumably because of the tail.  The fact that rats live in the sewers, spread plague and eat garbage doesn’t help, either.

I don’t remember the car or what they were trying to explain.

I’ve been doing a bit of ‘entrepreneurial’ work lately (that’s a secret code word for ‘a couple hours of work on the internet followed by grass cutting, chatting with neighbours, wandering the aisles of Costco, and napping through home improvement shows’).

Everyone loves to hear about small business success stories.  Little Davids out there, taking on the giant, ugly Goliath’s of the business world.  ‘”Go get em’!”  I’d hear.  “What a great idea.  I’m sure you’ll make a killing at that”, and so on.

All very rah-rah, and good for the emotional soul.  I guess what I keep wondering though, is when does the rah-rah stop, and the web-bashing begin?  I mean, it’s not likely that I’ll be an overnight success and suddenly be subject to scrutiny over my hiring or wage practices, but still…

What got me wondering about this, is that recently I heard an argument that although we all love to hate Walmart despite the ironic fact that almost all of us hand over our cash to them every week, they too were a success story.  Somewhere back in little Bentonville, Arkansas, at a 5 and Dime store known as ‘Walton’s’, and founded by that kindly-looking country bumkin ‘soon-to-be billionaire’, Sam Walton was a small business owner who had his share of ‘rah-rah’ admirers.

But, like kittens and Justin, something changed.  Once they became big, or self-realized, or smug, or whatever, we decided they resembled the rat more than the squirrel.  I guess we all like a success story until it’s, well…successful.  Huh.

I read a book…well read most of a book called ‘The Tipping Point’.  Basically, it was trying to explain that at some point, a trickle becomes a deluge based on a slight change in the fulcrum of the balance of things.  I never did get through it, but I think it applies here.

There is a tipping point where children aren’t adorable any more.  We still love them and care for them, but they tend to drive us nuts a little more.  They tipped.

Maybe that’s what happened to Justin Bieber and Walmart.  They were cute and adorable, but the invisible pendulum swung a bit too far the other way, and suddenly weren’t lovable any more.  They abused or outgrew their cuteness and suddenly became annoying and ugly.

The success story that got them where they are was also their undoing in the eyes of public opinion.  The squirrel’s tail turned into an ugly, skin coloured whip, and we turned away in disgust.

Cute keeps you alive when you’re young – heck, even I was ‘cute-ish’ when I was little, in a freckle faced Ginger sort of way, but when my legs grew longer than my body, and my voice changed, little bits of that rat tail emerged.  You can’t count on your adorableness for too long, so you have to adapt.

I guess it means always looking like the squirrel, and not letting your rat tail show.  Maybe that’s what all those spin doctors are there for – to try to convince the public that your favourite celebrity or business success story still has a bushy tail.

For me, my self-employment venture is a very long way from ever looking like a rat, but if I’m lucky, a long way down the road, someone will point out that my tail is showing.  I’m sure my loving friends and family will ensure I stay ever so humble.

 

Here’s my shameless plug (while I’m still cute):

http://magicmats.net/

magicmats video image

 

 

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The humility of being humbled

There’s few things more gratifying than watching some loudmouth get put in his place.  You know the guy – usually drunk and obnoxious, bullying everyone else until he gets clocked by someone half his size, or his pants fall down, showing off his Buzz Lightyear underwear…or no underwear at all!

Mortified, he runs for cover while everyone laughs at him.  At least, that’s what you hope for.

There’s gotta be a million You Tube videos out there of karmic revenge on the annoying or stupid.  We love the modern telling of David and Goliath.  Rooting for the underdog against a jerk-faced foe is something we can all relate to.

In Hollywood movies, it’s the villain who is the most annoying, hated person and ends up with the most spectacular death scene, not only getting shot 100 times in slow motion, but falling into a pit of molten metal, while being eaten by zombies or something.

But, have you ever been that guy (or girl) who is the unwelcome star of these little vignettes?  C’mon, sure you have.

I was retelling a story the other day about something that happened to me a long time ago that kind of fits this scenario.

For the record, I wasn’t drunk, and I was just doing my job.  I’m sure, though, that the other characters in this little scene were just as pleased as those watching the bully run away with his pants down.

I had a job once where part of my duties included making sure that my customers followed some expected level of quality, since they represented our products to the world.  This could make things a bit tricky at times, seeing as I needed these customers to buy stuff from me, but I also had to act like a Mom telling her kid to clean his room….without the folded hands and tapping of the foot….you know the look.

I used to wear a suit.  Not because I had to, but because I thought it was important to look professional….what a jerk!

Anyway, I had to meet a customer who’s business was in desperate need of the ‘angry Mom’ look.  The owner was very casual and would always tease me about wearing a suit all the time, ‘Geez!  Even the Mayor doesn’t dress like that’.

Fully suited up, just to make a point, I parked a block away from the store, again making a point about giving the best parking to the paying customers, and walked into the rear entrance of the store.  Very smug and probably abusing my power, I’m quite sure they were not happy about this visit.

As I walked the store with the owner’s wife, pointing out how bad the business was, I started to notice a foul smell.

I said, ‘Another thing.  Do not smell that?  It smells like dung in here.’

She acknowledged that she too smelt it, then motioned at my shiny dress shoes.  I looked down at the same time, and saw where the smell was coming from. I guess somewhere on my pretentious strut to the store, I stepped in a steaming pile of doo-doo.

I glanced back to see the owner on his hands and knees, scrubbing the disgusting footsteps I had taken all through the place.

I turned as red as the goal light at a Leafs game!

Mortified, I carefully took off my shoe, and hopped out the back door to find a stick.  I think I just went home after that.  Any sense of superiority or authority was left on the stained carpet behind me.

Of course, I had no way of making an elegant exit from that train wreck.  I think I mumbled something about why there would be horse poop on the sidewalk outside the store in the first place, then quickly got in my car, and drove home with one shoe on.

I stopped wearing a suit after that.