“Dear Callous Stranger,” #1

Welcome to the first installment of “Dear Callous Stranger,” an advice column of some sort.

Dear Callous Stranger,

Maybe "It was just her time to die" was not the best thing to say to your secretary, who was crushed by the recent suicide of her sister.

Signed,
Angry Annna

Dear Angry Annna,

Holy fucking shit.

Your pal,
Callous Stranger

A Brief Note to Everyone Else

I’d like to offer a word of advice to all acquaintances of the bereaved (other than Annna’s boss, who will be fired into the Sun for the sake of humanity).

I know that you feel the need to say something, something, to co-workers who are grieving, but please consider shutting the fuck up. If you lack the empathy to realize that your input is neither wanted nor required, try not saying anything at all. Almost anything you say will sound like nails on a chalkboard at best, a dental drill in bone at worst.

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Dear Callous Stranger, Introduction

If you know me, you know that I like solving problems. I solve them so hard, sometimes they become other, bigger problems that are nearly insoluble. It’s just the type of guy I am.

In this spirit I unveil my latest Great Work, “Dear Callous Stranger,. This is an advice column in the vein of Dear Abby, having the same thinly-veiled contempt for humanity that hers often betrays.

I will not be good at it. My answers will be surreal things, twisted and unseemly, informed by madness and bile. Or maybe I’ll just give you some tips on how to stretch your rotator cuff. There may even be pictures!

I’m going to try to make this an every Wednesday kind of thing. If you want good advice, maybe hit up my comments or my email. If you want entertaining advice, send me an anonymous question in the box below. Give yourself a fun pen name lest you be assigned one.

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How to Talk To Your Mentally Ill Loved Ones

So you love a person with mental illness. Maybe they have depression, social anxiety, or even schizophrenia or obsessive-compulsive disorder. I can’t help you help them with a specific disorder, but that’s okay. You shouldn’t try to help them with their specific disorder either. You are not a therapist.

That is to say, you shouldn’t be a therapist. Maybe you’ve found yourself falling into that role: You try to help them figure out ways of beating their disorder, you try to ask them just the right questions so that they’ll feel better, or you look up therapeutic techniques and see if they’ll play along. As a long-time sufferer of all sorts of crazy shit, allow me to kindly say: Cut it out.

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My Massage Therapist Hurt Me

It’s 4:00 in the morning. After tossing and turning all night, I’ve decided to just get up. My hips ache. My shoulder isn’t working right. My low back feels like someone took a brick to it. Hell, I even feel a little sick.

As some of you may know, I’m a massage therapist of 8 years. I’ve written rants about how massage shouldn’t hurt, and about how massage therapists who try to “fix” you are dumb. Yet there I lay, teeth gritted, as I got slowly tenderized. To be honest, I feel kind of embarrassed about letting it happen. I should have spoken up more. Hell, I should have stopped the massage. Sad thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve been through this.

“I Guess It’s Supposed to Feel This Way”

Being a patient is a scary thing. You’re in a room with an expert, they’ve got years of practiced dialogue about how you should be treated and why, and all you’ve got is a vague sense of what’s wrong. When they say, with supreme confidence, that “you need this,” who are you to argue?

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Properly Considering the Future: Your Secret Superpower

I find myself prone to “paralysis by analysis,” the strange disorder where you have too much choice, too much opportunity. This is mostly a problem when you have a few big projects in front of you, and you’re having difficulty making yourself get started because… how the hell do I? My psychologist says that I see the big picture to a fault, and that it would be far more advantageous to see the first step, then to see the next step, etc. “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” I’ve never quite found this satisfying.

Mind the tusks.
Photo credit: Stuart Bassil, via flickr

How do you eat an elephant? Bites don’t even come into it. No, no, no, it will be an arduous process of slaughter, butchery, cooking, curing, and stewing before you even get started. Sure, bites will be involved, but it’s hard not to consider that the eating itself will span thousands of meals over the course of months, and that’s if you make a pig of yourself. This metaphor is starting to upset me, so I’ll get to my point.

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