Slightly Off Center

Pleasures out of place

By Dennis Hinkamp

I’m experiencing mixed joy this week, but there is some twisted irony in knowing that the person who stole my credit card number used it to buy a home security system.

I’m not complaining too much. Excessive credit card interest rates will pay for my losses and perhaps the security minded perp will end up in a maximum-security facility. Life is good-ish.

On the bright side, we welcomed a new dog into our home which, after a brief trial period, quickly became her home. Dogs always remind me that there is a more laissez-faire way to live. The most important things atop the Maslow pyramid of needs should be naps, snacks and walks. Once you have food, shelter and a modest 401K retirement account, self-actualization seems superfluous. Keynesian economics cannot explain the marginal utility of naps, snacks and walks.

Naps far exceed normalized sleep in all metrics. In a sane world all offices would have nap rooms or at least keyboards that quickly converted to pillows. Lights would automatically dim at 2:37pm and your Alexa thing would offer a selection of white noise, adult lullabies or your favorite celebrity reading you a bedtime story. The world and Human Resources mediators would be better for it. Even postal workers would not go postal. In sleep we trust. Implement this. Lives will be saved; you’re welcome.

No meal, no matter how gourmet, can compare to the joy of a spontaneous snack. Yelp reviews could not handle the number of five-star ratings of a snack. Of course, who would take the time to get out their smart phone to take a picture and write a review of a snack? A snack by definition must not take more than 30 seconds to consume. A snack doesn’t have to be elaborate; just a few stolen potato chips or a vending machine-extruded chocolate covered graham cracker can change my whole day and make me a better person. I would conjecture that if we eschewed meals altogether and just snacked intermittently there would be less crime, fewer wars and the divorce rate would plummet by 63%. Why have a business lunch when you could meet over a bowl of Chex Mix? I guarantee more honesty and less litigation would ensue.

Walkies are not just for doggies. One of the best things about dogs is that they get us out of the house. Their pure daily repetitive joy over simply traversing the block should give you pause. You should examine that pause and take yourself for more walkies when you are having a bad day. Walking is meditative. Walking burns calories. Walking is why we built sidewalks and trails. Do not talk on or look at your phone while walking. Don’t forget to bring a poop bag.

Some of the lesser out-of-place pleasures are slouching, shuffling, dawdling and meandering. You don’t always have to have great posture or travel in a straight line. One of my greatest pleasures is taking three hours to drive from Logan to Salt Lake City even though you can do it in 70 minutes. There are so many unexpected places to stop for a snack, walk or a nap.


Dennis Hinkamp still somehow finds a way to meet deadlines.

This article was originally published on February 26, 2020.