A couple of weeks ago I was perplexed by the antics of a person I'd been doing business with. When I cooled on a transaction, that person was suddenly unavailable. It was explained to me thusly: "He is coin-operated." What a marvelously explanatory term! All of the seeming chumminess, easiness, old-friendishness had been fake. I had been purchasing it without knowing it, along with the service I knew I was buying, and once I showed the least disinterest in the deal, his friendliness ceased to exist. See if you can spot what is coin-operated here:
If you guessed all of them, you are right! We have a one-armed bandit, a realtor, a pretty pink perfume machine, and finally a two-fer in the form of an insurance salesman having his shoes shined by a machine. Everything here becomes a giant hunk of nothingness when you stop feeding it quarters.
Naturally, to some extent we are all coin-operated, because we wouldn't go to work if the boss didn't pay us. There is nothing wrong with money being a motivating factor in our lives. When it becomes the only factor, and when we think we don't have to be decent or civil unless we're being paid, the trouble begins.
A word of warning: If you find yourself being chummy with people you really don't like at all, you may be coin-operated. If you're not making any money from this behavior, you're just a big, fat phony.
We consulted a professional recently, in order to determine a future course of action. His response, which I found priceless, was to "go dark." This is a brilliant phrase, a concept which makes doing nothing a truly viable - even a wise - course of action. I needed to be blind-sided by this phrase, because nothing else could have made me consider the merit of just shutting the hell up. What does it mean?
Yes to all of the above. When a person actively chooses to "go dark," it means to go into a holding pattern, to wait, and perhaps to cause others to wait. It means I am taking no action in regard to a situation, and no sound is coming out of my mouth. (The tape might still become necessary, so I'm keeping a roll of it nearby. Also some rope, and maybe a flare or two). Going dark also serves to obscure various sights and movements that might otherwise be witnessed by those who are not your friends, in much the way nightfall does every twenty-four hours or so.
Going dark has never been an option I've considered. I majored in English, so I believe utterly in the power of words. (To be honest, I majored in English because I already believed in the power of words.) Not responding with speech or action to just about anything is not something I would ever think of on my own. And yet it has its distinct merits.
1. Not responding at any given moment does not commit me to any future response or lack of response. I can choose to respond whenever I like, with no harsh words to retract.
2. It can serve as a cooling down period for all concerned. Since no good decisions are made from anger, that has to be a good thing.
3. It makes me look wise and virtuous when it might be I just can't think of the right thing to say. (Ladies, men know this already. It's time for us to get on board.)
4. It gives me time to think about what I might say in the future. (Again, ladies, men got there first.)
Coin-operated and going dark. Those who are coin-operated go dark as soon as the money stops flowing, although it's not a conscious decision for them. They simply don't respond to anything but money. That doesn't work for me, since I want everything to be a conscious decision.
To that end, I am resolved to make the most of these two concepts in the coming month.
(I have also given up the consumption of chocolate for the month of February. Seriously, I have no capacity for moderation in that regard. It's either full chocolate mode or no chocolate. Sad but true.)
|This sign is coin-operated.|