The Good Thing About (Everything that Bugs You)

Sun and shadow -- keep on the sunny side

A few months ago, I was in a rut. Then I had a wonderful weekend visiting friends I hadn’t seen in a while, and I had a long road trip back to Washington. One of the radio stations I picked up along the way in southern Virginia played  a version of the old classic “Keep on the Sunny Side.”

“It will help us every day, it will brighten all the way, if we keep on the sunny side of life.”

Just the reminder I needed. (My mom often quotes my grandmother with a similar message: “All we can do is think positive.”)

In  the spirit of the glass being half-full, I started thinking about how to see the sunny side of a few of my top pet peeves in my new Washington environment. Along the way I realized that the “sunny side” is often the comic side–and the side worth being thankful for (Happy Thanks-giving week to everyone!). It just depends on how you look at it.

The good thing about D.C. people relying on predictable conversation topics all the time is that you can stash two fail-safe, if boring, ice breakers up your sleeve: ask someone about the length of his/her commute, or complain about the red line.

The good thing about sitting in a cubicle for 8+ hours daily is that you start to crave exercise so much, you start to want to walk everywhere and end up saving lots of money on transportation.

The good thing about the relentless jargon machine that is D.C. is that it’s easy to think of ways to mess with people at happy hour by trying to use as much meaningless language as possible in a single sentence. I’ve never done this, but I’d like to plow into a monologue someday at happy hour about launching an initiative to facilitate the swiftboating of stakeholders and wonks at AFCUWNITR. (What’s that? You mean you’re not familiar with AFCUWNITR? Let’s just say, their work is so important, you’ve never even heard of it.)

The good thing about a jam-packed bus on the morning commute is that it’s great people-watching, especially if you can look over someone’s shoulder at the newspaper.

The good thing about having a long wait at the end of the day at the bus stop (about a mile Observatory Circle) is that, once in a while, you get to see the Vice President’s motorcade roll by. Sometimes, you even get to see him through the window of a vehicle.

The good thing about getting into a conversation with someone who isn’t very interesting on a hike arranged through a Meetup.com group is that you start to get really curious about trees and other natural features on the side of the trail. You get so curious that you decide you need to stop to check them out for a few minutes while you let the others pass…

The good thing about people not paying much attention to each other because they are so busy stroking tiny screens on their smart phones all the time is that you never get caught sounding/looking like a crackpot when you walk around talking to yourself about writing ideas—almost everyone you pass has their earbuds in!

The good thing about pet peeves is that they give you something to write about.

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