You 've got to sweat the small stuff

If people did not sweat the small stuff, life would be really dull and boring. So say I am standing in line at the grocery store counter. I have my items neatly placed on the little conveyor belt. A few minutes into the wait another guy shows up behind me. He starts putting his groceries on the little belt behind mine. I am instantly faced with an ethical dilemma. The question that starts gnawing at my soul is "who places the plastic marker that will separate his stuff from mine"? This is not an easy problem to solve. At least, not for me. So my mind starts weighing the pros and cons of placing the marker myself vs. waiting for "schmucko" behind me to do so. Hence, the following analysis ensues in the next few seconds of this ordeal.

If I wait for him to place the marker, would that look impolite and inconsiderate? Would "schmucko" see this as a lack of basic manners on my part? And somehow would he generalize this experience of his to conclude that all Indian immigrants are ill-mannered anti-socialites? The little marker in the grocery store thus starts threatening the pride of an entire nation. On the other hand, if I place the little marker myself, would that appear too prudish and uptight? As if I was saying to him, "I cannot rely on your sense of propriety and risk letting your cheap liquor and junk food mingle with the organic, wholesome, trans-fat free goodness I have got going on over here". And yet again the reputation of the land of Gandhi seems to be at stake. On one such occasion, this whole issue got me so flustered that I picked up and placed the plastic marker myself and then also proceeded to thank the guy behind me as if he had done so. In conclusion, I seem to prefer looking like an idiot over being seen as prudish or uncivilized.

So sweat on people ... sweat on.

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