My coworker erupts into a fury, spouting profane curses at his computer. It’s understandable: his computer refuses to accommodate him, but a festering hatred grows in me when I see people get angry and yell at inanimate objects. I’m not sure why. I wonder if I have some kind of emotional issue that makes me feel like I’m the target of their angry tirade. Like an abused puppy or something.
I know all about abused puppies because my family adopted a puppy from a shelter right after I moved away to college. I always envisioned having a dog that could run with me through our Nebraskan backyard, through the large, open green and the infinite expanse of yellowing corn. But this puppy was never going to do that. Somehow fate had already decided what this canine was supposed to do with its life, and confidence wasn’t a part of that plan. He was so shy that if you so much as looked in his general direction he would disappear. I asked my dad why he did that, and he said he didn’t know.
I don’t know why I would feel the need to take the blame for anger at inanimate objects. But if I’m not an abused puppy, the only other explanation might be that I’m actually an inanimate object myself. And when I hear someone yelling at their computer or their cell phone or their car, I empathize, because I’m one of them. Maybe I was made in a factory in China, and shipped to a store, or purchased online and shipped straight to my parent’s doorstep.
Being an inanimate object would explain a lot. It would explain those moments when I think I have something to say, but as soon as I open my mouth, the words flutter away and disappear. That happens to inanimate objects all the time.
It would explain the time when that girl from Edenton ignored my phone calls, even after we spent the afternoon together in Grant Park. It’s really a very easy thing to do. Inanimate objects get ignored all the time. Unless, of course, they’re alarm clocks. Alarm clocks have it the best, as far as inanimate objecthood goes. They’re guaranteed a certain amount of attention every single day. The only problem is that sometimes they get yelled at or thrown across the room. Fortunately, I’ve never been thrown across a room.
My coworker continues swearing up a storm, and I decide to intervene:
“Do you need some help?” I ask, like an inanimate object would.
But my coworker ignores me. Or maybe he didn’t hear me to begin with. Maybe if I wasn’t an inanimate object, I would be able to speak up.