In “A Grownup Guide to Effective Crankiness: The CrankaTsuris Method”, I wrote about the Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back. The Camel named Camel was fine with carrying bundles of straw, but unfortunately, one straw meant for a can of Pepsi broke Camel’s back.
The point of that story was to acknowledge the fact that we all go through life carrying various amounts of straw. In fact, we should not react to every straw as being the “final straw.” If we let out a CrankaTsuris every time we are confronted with a single straw, life would become rather difficult rather quickly.
However, when we examine Final Straw CrankaTsuris, we understand that this is a very terrible CrankaTsuris that we should always work to avoid. This is completely different than the straw that broke the camel’s back. The only way that we can really find the solution to Final Straw CrankaTsuris is by closely looking at each of these straws because each and every one of them can in fact be the Final Straw.
This particular kind of straw occurs when somebody close to you, typically a family member or friend, gives you his or her word. You rely upon what this person has promised, but of course, the promise ends up being broken. You even instruct this person not to make promises that he or she does not intend to keep. Despite this, you are reassured. There is the old saying “Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!” Now, imagine if you have been fooled hundreds of times, and you keep in all of that disappointment inside, or you gently nag the person who gave you his or her word. By the time you hit a thousand, it becomes the final straw. We want to avoid not only the thousandth time. We want to avoid the first time. Is this even possible?
Luckily, for you readers, I have come across highly confidential and classified government documents from the 1960s. It was sitting in a box, just gathering dust in my friend’s basement. He said that he had bought it at a yard sale. Some of these documents are unbelievably fascinating, and can actually help us deal with Final Straw CrankaTsuris.
I am sure that everyone, or mostly everyone, has watched Star Trek one time or another. However, what you do not know is that all of the stories are true. The Starship Enterprise travelled in time back to the past, and they gave the US Government their travel journals hoping that they can learn valuable lessons moving into the future.
One of the more interesting reads was the recorded interview between Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. Mr. Spock was interviewing for the position of First Officer.
Captain Kirk: Mr. Spock. Your resume is outstanding, and your reputation is known far beyond this galaxy. However, I have one important question. Can you give me your word that you will be completely loyal to my command and the mission of the Federation?
Mr. Spock: Captain. I am clearly interested in the position of First Officer. I intend to be loyal and trustworthy. You can be assured of this fact. However, I cannot give you my word that I will be loyal to your command and the mission of the Federation. To do that would be highly illogical.
Captain Kirk: Mr. Spock. I find your reasoning to be highly illogical. You should know that I have interviewed over twenty other candidates, and I can tell you you that every single candidate have given their word to me that that would be completely loyal and trustworthy.
Mr. Spock: And you should know that I would be far more loyal and trustworthy than any of these candidates.
Captain Kirk: Explain. I am interested in hearing your logic. If you cannot give me your word, how will I be able to trust you?
Mr. Spock: You see, Captain. Many centuries ago, the planet Vulcan was run by ruthless and dishonest men and women. They appeared to be honest. When they ran for office, they made promises and would say “I give you my word.”
One politician who became our leader of the planet made a promise to the people. He said “If elected, I will cut taxes by half, and raise spending by half. Simply by doing this, we will balance our budget. I give you my word”
Captain Kirk: It sounds highly illogical.
Mr. Spock: Correct, Captain. Of course, the story does not end there. Our leader then convinced the Vulcans to wage war on the planet Romulus. The Romulans look very similar to Vulcans, and our leader said that the planet should be part of the Vulcan Empire. Of course, he just wanted their wealth and resources, and he said that the war would be very short, and we would be greeted by the Romulans as liberators. He said “I give you my word.”
Sure enough, the war last for years. Every year, our leader said that we would soon be victorious, and he told the people “I give you my word.”
Captain Kirk: Certainly, the people would see through that after a while.
Mr. Spock: Unfortunately, they did not. If fact, people would mimic our leader and would say “I give you my word.” It then turned out that because our leader gave his word, but never kept his word, he soon lost the ability to communicate. The Vulcan elders then saw that it was only the Vulcans who kept their word were still able to communicate. The leader was then removed, and we made peace with the Romulans. We then made it law and then custom that for anyone who wanted to be in government, that person must vow to keep his or her word. We found that when our leaders kept their word, our government ran must more efficiently, and Vulcans then soon embraced the concept of keeping our word. Because of this experience, giving our word is strictly forbidden. If we give someone our word, the sentence is death.
Captain Kirk: How logical.
Mr. Spock: Precisely Captain. I can tell you that when I say I will be completely loyal to your command and to the Federation, you can be assured that I shall keep my word, as required for any Vulcan.
Mr. Spock was then hired. The Starship Enterprise then began to explore new worlds and go where no man or woman has gone before.
After reading these highly classified documents, I was reminded of another character I have written about. Tommy Toughnuts always liked to look tough. However, when the going got tough, Tommy always got going. It did not mean that he would not give his word. His parents asked him to clean his room. He gave his parents his word that he would do so, but quickly left the house. When his parents asked Tommy to finish his homework, Tommy gave his word, and again left to go out with his friends.
Many years later, Tommy lost all ability to communicate. Yes, he could still speak, but he found that there was no one would listen. It turns out that if you only give your word, but never bother to keep it, after a while, there will not be anybody out there who will be interested in what you have to say.
It is this important lesson that will help all of us avoid Final Straw CrankaTsuris.