After two months of my 2017 challenge, still winning

I’ve run 375 kilometers so far this year. I’ve “banked” 48 kilometers, which I will need, because I’m taking a two-week trip next month and there won’t be much time for exercise. The time away from my regular running routine will put me in the red, and I’ll have to make that up when I return.

My sister’s on track for her writing challenge, too. We are keeping each other accountable, reporting our progress to each other regularly. To be honest, though, the fear of public humiliation at not meeting my goal is a motivator at least as strong.

Why I don’t celebrate my birthday

I like to keep my birthday private. The reason is pretty simple.

It’s not because I feel old. I am actually old, but that doesn’t bother me. I’m at peace with my age. One more birthday marks one more year of a life that has been pretty fantastic. A birthday is a reminder to reflect on the past, and to plan for another year of adventures. My life is pretty terrific.

And it isn’t because I’m embarrassed or don’t like attention. Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a shy person.

At one of my former jobs, there was a tradition of doing a cake on a coworker’s birthday. It was sort of nice for a few years, but then it started to feel like an obligation. It started to feel like this scene from the movie “Office Space:”

This is the reason that I don’t celebrate my birthday. That scene is painful. It’s clear that no one wants to be at that party. No one wants to be singing, no one wishes that terrible person a happy birthday. This is my nightmare. I would rather chew on broken glass than be the focus of a birthday party like that.

That is why I don’t tell people when it’s my birthday. It isn’t because I don’t want people to make a fuss. It’s because I don’t want people to think that they have the obligation to make a fuss.

I love it when people send me texts and emails on my birthday. I’m touched that people remember. But, announcing that it’s my birthday would make me feel like I was fishing for a birthday greeting. I don’t make a deal out of it. This way, when I do receive a “Happy Birthday” from someone, I know that they genuinely wish me a happy birthday.

If you ask if today is my birthday, I will say no, it isn’t. But if you wish me a happy birthday, I will say thanks, and I’ll mean it from the bottom of my heart. And a big thanks to JMC, AK, AMK, JME, and everyone else. You guys are the best.

I don’t want to be Toenail Guy

I really love my Darn Tough socks. I have been promoting them to my friends and family for years. I even converted my sons. There are several reasons why I like them. They are, indeed, darn tough. They are very comfortable. The fabric fights odors. They are made in America. And I love, love, love the lifetime guarantee. Twice I have had to return a pair because of a small hole in the toe. Both times, the company sent me a new pair right away, no questions asked.

But now I have a dilemma. Another sock has developed a hole in the same place as the other two times.  I have to face the reality that the problem is not with the sock, but with my toenail. It’s too much of a coincidence that three different socks would get holes in the same place. Three times, the socks have changed, but the foot hasn’t. The problem clearly isn’t with the sock.

I have a toenail problem.

I imagine the conversation in the correspondence department of the Darn Tough Sock Company. Nancy sees the envelope with my name on the return address, and her heart sinks. “Oh, no,” she whispers to herself. “Toenail Guy again.” She opens the envelope, and the shameful devastation of my toenail slides out onto her desk. A perfectly good sock, destroyed by the evil of a mismanaged toenail. She calls out to her coworker across the room. “Hey, Bertha, check it out. Toenail Guy still hasn’t figured out that he has to file down the claws on his feet.”

With dread in her heart, Bertha makes her way cautiously over to Nancy’s desk. She bends down to examine the damage more closely. “Yup,” she mutters. “It’s a classic case. The guy clearly doesn’t know how to manage his own toenails. Poor bastard. No one will ever love him. He will die alone.”

With more pity in her heart than professionalism, Nancy tucks a fresh pair of socks into an envelope. As she seals the envelope, she apologizes to the socks. “Sorry, guys. I fear I’m sending you to certain death. The only consolation that I can offer you is the assurance that when you are returned to me in a few weeks, with a hole in the toe just like this,” here she jabs her thumb in the direction of her desk, “that we at the Darn Tough Sock Company will give you a solemn funeral, and your next of kin will be looked after. In the meanwhile, go and do your duty.”

With a sigh, she places the envelope in her “Out” tray. She is sad to be pouring good money after bad. The lifetime guarantee is killing the company. It would be better for everyone if the company simply refunded Toenail Guy’s money and washed their hands of him. But a commitment has been made, and Nancy, a good soldier, will honor that commitment. After all, even though Toenail Guy is a drain on corporate profits, at least he knows that the problem is with him. And this can’t go on forever, can it? How long can a guy live, with toenails that bad?

Bertha pats Nancy on the shoulder, consoling her. “Our job isn’t easy, Nancy. Let’s just hope that Toenail Guy eventually gets the help that he needs. Next time, maybe slip a toenail clipper and a file in the package.”

Nancy nods, sadly. Some days, her job tests her faith in humanity.