You can tell a lot about folks by observing what they hang on their office walls, wear printed on tee shirts and glue to their bumpers. A bumper sticker declaring that “Life Sucks and then you die,” for instance, provides a pretty strong clue that the occupant would not be a prime candidate for the Optimists' Club.
A number of other bumper messages offer equally, if even less appropriate for family viewing, insights into the minds of the depraved individuals we allow to obtain drivers' licenses and to buy automobiles (or pick-up trucks).
A bumper with a fish on it could indicate the person is quite religious or a member of the Bass Angler's Sportsman Society. One never knows.
Even more telling, perhaps, are tee shirts, some of which the wearers' mothers should check before allowing them in public. But I like this one, which I have not seen, only heard about. “Join P.E.T.A.: People Eating Tasty Animals.” Where do I join up?
I've recently discovered a series of “de-motivational posters” that could provide important clues into the psyches of anyone who would grace his or her wall with one. For instance:
Defeat — For every winner there are dozens of losers. Odds are, you're one of them.
Futility — You'll always miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take. And, statistically speaking, 99 percent of the shots you do.
Pessimism — Every dark cloud has a silver lining. But lightning kills hundreds of people every year who are trying to find it.
Now, if those don't inspire you to mediocrity, nothing will. And another one reminds me of advice my mother used to give me.
Mistakes — It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.
My mom's take on that was to give people the benefit of the doubt because God may have put them here only to serve as a bad example.
But I think my favorite is:
Ideology — Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups. Reminds me of Congress.
And recently, I was holed up in an Extension specialist's office, waiting for him to get off the phone so we could talk about crop prospects. While waiting, patiently, I noticed slogans taped to the walls. And, having nothing better to do, I jotted a few down, assuming that I might one day need inspiration or that I might be summoned to give evidence that the man should get some help.
The specialist will remain nameless to protect him from embarrassment, but he knows who he is. On his door he offers a bit of a warning with this cryptic message: “I don't have a solution, but I do admire the problem.” He professes further befuddlement with this one: “I know all the answers. It's the questions I don't understand.” I used to get that same feeling in algebra class.
Across the room is a “for sale” notice. “FOR SALE: Used tractor. No seat or steering wheel. Perfect for someone who has lost his rear end and has nowhere to turn.”
That sums up a lot of frustration in a few pithy phrases.
And, finally, he laments our complex world of over-regulation and meaningless bureaucracy.
“OSHA has determined that the maximum safe load capacity on my rear end is two people at a time, unless I install handrails or safety straps. Therefore, as you have arrived sixth in line to ride my butt today, please take a number and wait your turn.”
As I suggested, he may need medication.
On my walls, lest you think I'm too eager to criticize, are framed college degrees, proving that I am an educated person. Also, above my computer is a serene print of a covered bridge. A gentle stream gurgles (I think it gurgles, but that could be just my imagination.) underneath the bridge, where imaginary trout lurk waiting for me to catch them.
I have resisted the urge to display my musical Big Mouth Billy Bass on the wall, assuming, correctly I'm sure, that less than a day after it took a place on the wall it would take a place on the curb with other items my wife finds either useless or ridiculous.
Also, above my bookcase, in which I keep my collection of William Faulkner novels, hang posters announcing dates of Faulkner seminars, which I never attended.
So, as you can see for yourself, this is the office of a normal person.