Any time I travel I’ll see a couple or five having the same argument.
It’s often in a language I don’t understand, but I know it’s the same. Countless tourists have the argument in London every day, meaning I can play this game at home.
The argument goes like this:
A. something wasn’t done that should have been done, or
B. something happened and it would have been better that it didn’t, and
C. person 1 totally told person 2 the thing needed to be done or was going to happen.
All sorts of things can be A or B: making reservations for a restaurant; arriving after a place has closed; leaving tickets in your other jacket. Person 1 reacts in one of two ways. They’ll bitterly but passive aggressively remind person 2 what happened for the next hour (and possibly the entire trip). Or, they yell.
Person 2 also reacts in one of two ways. They’ll deny everything person 1 is saying. Or, they yell back.
In these situations person 1 is almost always right, in the sense that they were correct about the thing, and person 2 is almost always wrong, and I’m guessing most people would rather be person 1, the right person. The person in the right. The person who knew.
And that would certainly be the case if person 1 wasn’t always, uniformly, being a complete and utter dick.
There’s nothing wrong with being right, if the only alternative is being wrong. But being right is as different to insisting someone acknowledge you’re right as being strong is to ripping a door off its hinges.
I love being right. Love it. For awhile wanting to be right made up my one personality trait, before I discovered listening and baking cookies. I wanted to be right because being right meant being safe, and there was nothing I wanted more than to be safe. Untouchable.
Except it doesn’t, does it? Being right about something almost never accomplishes anything on its own, and insisting on your past rightness is about as useful as telling a recently single friend, I never thought they were good for you. Those train tickets aren’t magically in your pocket, that restaurant still has no space. The situation is the same as before, only now everyone is unhappy.
And I think, I think, if you’ve warned someone about something and then for whatever reason they don’t act on your warning and the thing does or does not happen, the best way forward in the sense of best for you and best for the situation is to go, ok how do we make this better. Because I think that act of kindness, and it will be an act of kindness, will fix your rightness in the other person’s mind far more firmly than another hour of deep sighing. (That I think this but don’t always do it is the running theme of this newsletter.)
I have one simple rule when travelling: if a problem can be solved with money, and you have the money, spend the money. Always spend the money. I stand by this rule 100%.
You know when this rule is hardest to follow? When you were right about something and someone, I’m not saying who, was maybe not listening to you and then it’s 4:45pm on a Wednesday and the gallery you want to go to closes at 6pm and the only way to get there on time to remotely make it worthwhile is to catch a taxi that costs 10x more than the bus you should have taken an hour ago.
This fucking sucks. It does! Oh man it sucks. There’s no way it doesn’t suck. And yet, and yet. A bit of money that is yours to spend and it’s basically fixed. You’re a magician! The situation is essentially what it would have been, someone now knows you can handle yourself in (totally fucking avoidable) situations, and life goes on.
And all it cost you was being right.
This week’s header image courtesy of the amazingly talented Marija Tiurina.