If you're anything like me, guilt can be used like a giant hammer to smash your stalwart decisions to bits, regardless of how firmly you've made up your mind. I could be saving the world from cyborg-Nazis and all it would take is robotic Hitler shedding a tear and explaining how "stopping my regime does not compute" for me to pause and reconsider my actions. Sorry robo-Hitler, my bad!
Anyways, this was kind of put in perspective today when I was forced to cope with the magnitude of the hold guilt has on me. In preperation for our grand trip to Africa, my sister and I set out for Mountain Equipment Coop, greedily ventureing out to load up on cool gear.
The main objective of my visit was to buy new hiking boots. I had bought some boots almost a year prior that came with me to Peru - but I gave them a rough ride, and they are in paticularily rough shape (they're also ugly, uncomfortable and smell like rotting corpses).
Hiking boots fall into that exciting category of footwear, in that you usually own them just long enough that you really want to buy the right pair. As a consequence I had studied up on the selection online and firmly came to a decision on what I was going to buy - before even stepping into the store.
So, as you can imagine, I paraded into the store and gleefully marched to the boots. I plucked the demo pair of my prize from the wall and held it over my head like I had just won the heavy weight belt of professional kick assery.
Like any smart consumer, I did the obvious thing and turned to the closest sales representative to ask them what they would recommend. This was so that I could reach my quota of highfives, compliments on how awesome I am, and to watch them grab the manager so that he could beg me to work there. Everyone wants super-informed-consumer-Sean on their staff!
The sales representative, henceforth refered to as Randal, happened to be an elderly man, possibly in his late sixities, with a strong german accent and a penchant for making awkward eye contact. Randal was a soul searcher - that is to say that he reached into your eyes with his locked-in glare, until he found your soul and forcefully yanked it out. Persumably to feed on it for sustenance.
With much conviction and enthusiasm I gave Randal the quick run-down on what I needed the boots for, all the while holding up my prized jewel and leaning in for the congratulatory back pat. You can imagine then that I was a little distraught when Randal snatched it from my hand and made a quick, barely understandable quip, the sole intelligable word being "flimsy", and shoved it back into it's holder. Instead, pawing another boot from the wall that was "sturdier" and about as appealing to look at as fecal matter.
Crushed. Thanks Randal - you elderly-german-soul-crushing monster.
So inevitably I ended up trying them both on, and much to my pleasure Randal's selection was about as comfortable as wearing hollowed out bricks. Conversely, I am awesome at knowing what is great, and my selection felt like running in clouds that were lined with velvet and rainbows.
This photo by Jessica Tekenos. It is win.
However, as I was leaving the section with box in hand, I had the unfortunate task of telling Randal that I didn't want to go with his suggestion. This is where the guilt thing comes in - why do I feel so impeccably bad for not taking the advice of a random stranger?
Now, Randal probably didn't give a shit that I had chosen another boot than the one he recommended - but to me he looked like this:
Here I was on the precipice of buying something that I genuinely wanted, and froze, considering running back to Randal - begging him to let me try on the ones he had advised.
Fuck you Randal! Why do you get this control over me?! Thankfully, I bought the boots I wanted the whole time:
Guilt sucks. I do not like that it can so easily make me stop dead and reconsider sure things! As someone that usually feels pretty confident in their actions, its impact is unnerving.
Thanks for Reading,