The Magic Formula
Where “A” represents apathy, “D” represents dismay, and “P” represents powerlessness. And “M” represents misery, “C” represents contentment, and “F” represents fulfillment. Thus, our formula expresses the ability of one force — the dismayed and apathetic individual with a perceived lack of power — to inflict misery upon another force — the contented and fulfilled individual — in amounts roughly proportional to the first individual’s sense of uselessness.
Everyone wants to leave his mark on the world. Some do it with art, some with technological innovations; some do it by leaving children behind, some by splashing the world with graffiti. Those who feel that their life is largely unimportant and forgettable — usually people in unskilled jobs that require waiting upon people with higher skilled jobs — tend to express their existential angst by having an effect (almost always detrimental) on the more fortunate individuals in their sphere of influence. Thus, the terrible imbalance of importance and power is momentarily righted. The check-stand cashier may delay the Hollywood movie executive from her meeting because her two six packs of diet soda exceed the 10 item limit at the Express Line; the airline ticket agent may insist that the doctor of immunology must check his briefcase because the overhead bins are more or less full; the clerk of courts may refuse to locate a deed for the professor of English because the request was made in duplicate, not triplicate.
Until every mundane task in the world is performed by computerized robots, someone has to do these brain-numbing jobs. Rather than be angry at the minimum wage minion attempting to ruin our day, we ought to view the poor lout with compassion. If you spent 40 hours a week doing the same boring thing ad infinitum, you would be a bitter lump, too.
The next time a sullen, obviously depressed person impacts your otherwise beautiful life, remember that she is merely putting into action the Magic Formula, the mathematical expression of Nature’s clever balancing act.