Monday, February 26, 2018

Can't Complain!

I was standing in a long lift line at Eaglecrest Ski Area on Sunday with a fellow east coast transplant to Alaska—one of my treasured Juneau sister wives. She was making small talk with an acquaintance, and when she asked the guy how he was doing, he replied cheerfully, “can’t complain!”

We got on the chair and immediately turned to each other.

“I love it when people say that,” I told her. We observed that this represented a big cultural difference from where we grew up, where almost everyone managed to find a reason to complain about almost anything every day of the week.

So when people say happily that they “can’t complain!” the response I give (in my head) is TRY HARDER.

Which is not to suggest that complaining is good. Quite the opposite, complaining—especially petty complaining—is REALLY bad. It’s a terrible, annoying trait, and I hardly ever indulge in it. If it’s one thing my brief forays into food service have taught me, it’s that my friends who work in the hospitality industry are fucking HEROES.

Anyway, on this particular day, the entire ski hill—myself included—was armchair quarterbacking the operation of this and that chairlift and this and that terrain, but I chose to keep my complaints to myself (or within a small circle of fellow whiners) and enjoy the moment I was in.*

I’m just interested in language, is all. 

So when someone says they CAN’T complain, I want to cheer them on and say that no, really, they CAN! There is SOOO much to complain about, as you learn growing up in New York City.

Like here’s a non-exhaustive list of ACTUAL things I’ve heard people complain about in the course of my upbringing: 

The sushi is not at room temperature; the train is five seconds late; the wineglass has a tiny spot on it; the rental car is not the exact car ordered ahead of time; the parking lot refurbishment is taking too long; the air conditioning is broken; the elevator is out of order for half a day; the Christmas tree is tacky; the rug is a trip hazard; the water is too hot/cold; the air is too humid/dry; and so on, ad infinitum.

The art of complaining no longer has geographic boundaries thanks to Yelp and the rest of the internet, but since I hail from the OG 'Hood of Complaining, I feel I am in a unique position to encourage people who claim they “can’t” complain and let them know that they are selling themselves short. And if they just try super hard, they will find something--ANYTHING!--to complain about.

So whenever you’re tempted to answer with “can’t complain,” what you're really saying is that you're an unimaginative slacker who can't come up with a gripe, and therefore you should just change that “can’t” to “won’t.”

I believe in you!

(*But seriously WTF is up with the Black Bear chair lol jk??)

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