Tuesday, December 28, 2010


It's been pointed out to me on many the occasion that, for an aspiring humor columnist, I can quite often be the least fun person in the room. As time goes by, I'm starting to agree with the assessment.

I hate change. There is comfort in the familiar. Hence, that which is unknown is often scary and disruptive and why I generally steer clear of it. I work hard to create around myself a contented little world of stability and navigational ease. When that world gets disrupted, I fall completely off my game.

Take work, for example. This week, I found out that my schedule's going to be changing. In just a few days, I'll be expected in the office 30 minutes earlier than what I'm accustomed to. Most people would take this in stride. I, however, am of the firm belief that it's nothing less than the end of the world. I'll have to go to bed a few minutes earlier. I'll have to wake up a few minutes earlier. The HORROR! Most people would go, "Eh. Whatever." I, meanwhile, am in full alarm red-alert crisis management mode.

I've stepped into a role in life, both at work and at home, that I'm not particularly proud of. Whenever something new comes along -- something change-y, be it a new computer system, new product, new schedule, or a new brand of mustard -- my job is to announce to anyone and everyone within earshot how this change will be a horrible detriment to our way of life, how every essence of this change is A Very Bad Idea, and how it's certain to fail in a remarkably short amount of time. I am the devil's advocate. I am Debbie Downer. I am the Grinch Who Stole 365 Days A Year.

So I'm trying desperately to become Hip Shane, Lover of Change. And for what it's worth, I think I've made decent headway. I mean, this year alone I bought a stinking HOUSE, for gosh sake. You can't get much more change-y than that. And I've tried to be a little less the voice of fatalism and a little more the voice of reason. I've even tried really really hard to bite my tongue about this schedule change at work and have thus far kept my seething outrage and panic to just a small flurry of incendiary e-mails. For me, this is a big step.

But my new-found tolerance for change is taking a beating this week.

My good friend and co-worker Chris is about to be making the biggest change of his life, and I'm not sure how I feel about it. Well, I guess it doesn't matter how I feel, because it's not MY life. Part of me's jealous that I don't have the guts to make such a change, but that's just a wee little part of me. The big part of me thinks he's making a bad move and I just wanna stomp and pout and be incredibly unsupportive and tell him that he's on the road to ruin, but that makes me a lousy friend. Or maybe a great friend. SEE? I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT TO THINK.

Here's the scoop. My friend Chris has always had a jones for the Orient, specifically the fine island nation of Japan. I know this because (a) he was an Asian Studies major in college, (b) he likes video games, (c) he thinks ninjas are pretty sweet, and (d) he thinks Japanese girls are pretty hot. These are the sorts of important world issues that our friendship is based upon.

And in one week, my friend Chris is selling all his belongings save for 50 lbs. of allowable carry-on luggage and is hopping a plane for Japan, where he plans on spending the rest of his life teaching English to Japanese schoolchildren. He's never been there before. He doesn't speak the language. He doesn't know a single person over there. What little money he has will quickly be eaten up in plane fares and apartment rentals. And, as his good friend, I'm supposed to be supportive of this endeavor. OR, as his good friend, I'm supposed to tell him that he's making a horrible decision. I'm just not sure which camp I fall into yet.

Let's weigh the pros and cons of the scenario out.

PROS: Going to Japan could be an enriching and rewarding cultural experience, as could teaching English to kids. He's an adventuresome guy and this is about as adventurous as a gig could get. He's young and doesn't have any obligations to prevent him from seeing the world, so why not take advantage of the opportunity when it presents itself? If he loves it, he's found a new path in life. If he doesn't, he can return home in a year wisened and world-weary.

CONS: Are you kidding me? He's going to a foreign country and doesn't speak the language. The company he'll be working for is truly called The Peppy Kid's Club. After arriving in Japan and going through training, he'll then be assigned an area to teach in -- and their classrooms aren't in hip, happening Tokyo or Okinawa. They're in, like, small towns and villages. He might be looking for exciting culture, but he's probably going to end up in Japanese Galesburg (I'm FROM Galesburg, I'm allowed to poke fun.) The Peppy Kids Club website says that their teaching lessons involve extensive singing and dancing. Thanks to our shared love of the video game Rock Band and some truly ill-advised karaoke nights, we've each suffered through each other's versions of "singing," and lemme tell you as a fellow tonedeaf impartial: it ain't pretty. Umm, what else? In the real world, there's a sad shortage of ninjas. And, while some Japanese girls are indeed eye candy, you're probably not gonna make much headway when your pick-up line starts and stops with "Konichiwa" because that's the only Japanese you know.

But in reality, what it comes down to is selfishness:

MY CONS: Who's going to get me through challenging boss fights on the X-Box? Who's gonna stand by my side in the DJ booth and fend off unwieldly requests? Who am I going to call and go, "DUDE! You HAVE to see this video on Youtube right NOW!" I'm losing one of my best friends and confidants to foreign weirdos across the globe, and that's change for ME and that's why it stinks.

So good luck, man. I hope you carve a path of destruction all over the land of the rising sun. Japan doesn't know what it's in for. Defeat all the ninjas, find as many hot anime-looking babes as possible, and most importantly, teach all of the kids how to log onto QCOnline.com and read my column. I hope it works out, I really do. And if it doesn't, there's a couch here with your name on it from which you can rebuild the shattered pieces of your broken life. Plus if you can get back on at the paper, we can go back to the old schedule and I can sleep in for an extra half hour. And then everybody wins.

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