Life in Hell’s Backyard
Life in Hell’s Backyard
When Davy Crocket said, “You may all go to hell and I will go to Texas,” I’m pretty sure he had never yet experienced a Texas Summer. Living in the great Lone Star, the most common conversation starter these days seems to be, “It’s hotter than Hell out there.” Not that any of us would have actual experience residing in Hell, but that statement seems reasonably accurate. To say the least, it is a bit warm this time of year. But in spite of the fevered yowling from the climate-criers, this is not the end of the world. It’s just a typical Texas Summer.
When I moved home after college, back in the bygone century, we had one summer where the temperature exceeded 100° for over 90 days in a row. It just so happened that I owned a car with no air-conditioning. I typically went to work around 7:00AM, not just to benefit from the minimally cooler morning temperature, but also so I could wear shorts and a t-shirt while driving to work. By the time my team arrived at 8:00, I had already changed into business attire.
I also remember summers as a kid, when we played outside from just after breakfast until being called in for supper that evening. Those were the days before video games, a bajillion cable channels, or even color tv. In fact, we didn’t even have air-conditioned homes — hence the advantage of staying outside where, even if there was no breeze, we could cool off by riding our bikes through a neighbor’s sprinkler. Heaven was when the snow-cone truck rolled through our little empire.
Before you label me a whiner, I’d put the happiness of my childhood “temperature-challenged” summer days up against yours any time you care to compare. While I don’t recall those summers being unnaturally hot, I assume it was because we all got acclimated to the temperature by being out in it all day. After all, fifty years of climate change on a three-billion-year-old planet can’t amount to much, so it had to be equally hot back then.
One of my older sisters rediscovered the principle of acclimation several years back when she began working at a church summer camp. She found that so long as she stayed outside, she eventually got used to the heat. While it was initially almost unbearable, once she’d been outside for a while, her body acclimated to the temperature, and it became tolerable again. But, if she went back into the comfortable, air-conditioned building, coming back outside was worse that it had been at the start of the day.
Perhaps, that’s how our ancestors managed to build an entire country without the comforts of air-conditioning. Once we get used to something, it becomes the norm and we can live with anything. But take a break from the “norm”, and you get spoiled.
That brings me to my point. During the two-year COVID vacation, much of America got used to working in their living room, wearing nothing but their underwear, and answering to nobody for how they spent their time. Some even began to call it the “new normal” — wishful thinkers!
When business leaders began to realize that productivity depends on proximity, the proverbial poop hit the fan and every conceivable excuse was generated to counter a return to office life. Problem is, that for many types of organizations, it’s just an empirical fact. Now that we’ve been spoiled by the cool air-conditioning of solitude, it’s hard to rejoin the heat of the horde.
No longer are we the captains of our own ships. In fact, there seem to be a lot of extraneous passengers on our ships – passengers whose differences we could tolerate at a distance but who just chafe our tender egos when they get too close. I’m relatively sure the word “tolerance” even got deleted from the OED during that two-year hibernation. Now we shoot other people who talk too loud in the check-out line, get into brawls on airplanes because someone bumped our seat, and join forces to “cancel” anyone who doesn’t share our herd’s fragile concept of truth.
Perhaps we’re even closer to Hell than the temperature suggests.
About That Graphic
Don’t suppose for even a minute that I’m disparaging the great state of Texas. If it weren’t for all the other tremendous assets this state has, I might let the cat-frying Summers convince me to become a Damn Yankee — but those other assets are way too numerous to list here and far outweigh a few sweaty days.
Did someone forward this newsletter to you after reading it themselves? Don’t settle for that!
to get a fresh, unused copy of this newsletter sent directly to you every Sunday morning. If you decide it stinks, you can always unsubscribe.
The Leadership Gap
— Lolly Daskal
We don’t have to be in a leadership role to benefit from this book. We just have to be willing to take an objective look at our shortcomings. Lolly Daskal walks the reader through various personality types and their conflicting character qualities. And, no, she doesn’t tell us to elevate our personal quirks and wear them as a badge. She unabashedly promotes self-understanding and the willingness to change. Thanks to my friend Kevin Bullard for recommending it. I guess he saw some stuff in me that needs to change.
A meeting of great minds who think alike