Everyday strategy

by Suspended Reason

Are we strategic?

Do we not, when hearing from others of a fortune or misfortune, begin thinking how we might secure or avoid it?

When we expect others to come upon and discover us, do we not become self-conscious about our presentation, and find it hard to act natural” under knowledge of our outward appearance?

And ultimately—unfortunately—most of this strategy is geared to gaming appearances.

Here are examples, from the past week, of situations which felt especially opticratic.

  1. I’m taking a trip to California, and my landlord is watering my houseplants. I have a bunch of marshmallow leaf in a jar on the table, which I mix with cannabis to roll tobacco-free spliffs. (Other times, I use green tea, mint, lavender, or blue lotus flower.) The marshmallow leaf looks very much like ground cannabis. Even though it is not cannabis—is a perfectly legal substance-I have to hide its jar to prevent a wrong impression.
  2. My mother-in-not-quite-law is COVID paranoid. I recently contracted COVID and am long past the point of being either sick or contagious. However, my nose has been sniffly, perhaps from allergies, and I know that she will be concerned I am still sick and contagious, so I buy a pack of generic Claritin.
  3. I’m walking around downtown Palo Alto and stop to grab a rare boba. The menu’s overwhelming, so I chat with the barista about her favorite drinks, and the differences between different jelly and sweetener options. The credit card reader isn’t obviously hooked up to any sort of touch screen, so once I pay, I put a couple dollars (cash) in her glass tip jar. While I do this, she’s writing down my order, so she misses the tipping event. Then she looks up, immediately after my hand has retracted, and taps through a touch screen for a tip option. I decline. Now, not only is it not clear I have tipped, she has active grounds to believe I haven’t tipped.
  4. The in-laws have a specific kind of potato lentil snack I like, but I don’t want to have to ask each time I want some. So I walk out to the store, buy a bag of my own. Now, while hanging out on their patio, I’m going HAM on the snack—not pouring it into a bowl but eating directly from the bag with my fingers, eating as much as I want. I realize at some point that since the bag is identical to that tucked in their cupboard, my in-laws probably assume I’m rudely eating their food this way, without manners. The entire purpose of walking into town and buying my own bag has been defeated.