Most of us love to complain.Untold suffering seldom is, they say. Be it the boss or the systems and policies at the work place or the inefficient civic authorities or a disappointing movie ... the list is endless. While teaching class twelve I had to get students to write letters of complaint. It was disturbing that they were never expected to be taught to write a thank you note or a note of appreciation. No wonder we are a nation of whiners - see, I am whining about it now.
The pleasure that we get from grumbling is cathartic - you get the offending matter off your chest. The act also unites people who have had similar experiences. Many whine sessions involve people competing to relate the greater grievance. If someone actually addressed our grievances, and we had nothing to be miffed about, I think we would be really miffed!
Sometimes we simply want a sympathetic listener who will take our side. And some people just don't get that. I was once whining to colleagues, about my weight gain. 'Even a tiny piece of cake gets converted into a tyre on the waist,'I said. All I wanted to hear was that I looked good despite a tyre or two. That's when this chemistry teacher earnestly explains to me that energy intake to the body that is not used up is mostly stored as fat in the fat tissue.The conversion efficiency of food energy into physical power depends on the form of energy source - type of food and on the type of physical energy usage, that is which muscles are used, whether the muscle is used aerobically or anaerobically. He continued explaining that the efficiency of muscles is rather low: only a small percent of the food energy is converted into mechanical energy. This low efficiency is the result of only a tiny percentage efficiency of generating ATP (whatever that is!) from food energy, losses in converting energy from ATP into mechanical work inside the muscle, and mechanical losses inside the body. These depend on the type of exercise and the type of muscle fibers being used. He then began to draw - maybe the molecular structure of a fat tissue or something - but stopped on seeing my face.
I was in tears.
There are those who give advice and practical suggestions to overcome a problem. These creative problem solvers don't get it that the whiner isn't asking for a solution. At least my husband doesn't(get it). Like the time when on returning from a parent-teacher meeting, I went on about how exhausted I was, how belligerent the parents were, how useless it was to talk to them how I was the last to leave only to find the bus gone, how I had to wait for another vehicle,how other teachers' spouses had come to get them, how sore my throat felt and how bad my head ached. Without taking his eyes off the TV he suggested, 'Make some tea and take a Panadol. You will feel better.'
My sudden sullenness did bewilder him - after all, he had tried to help, hadn't he?
A little cribbing isn't a dangerous thing but sometimes it becomes excessive. Constant complaining must be some kind of disease and what's more, it can be catching. So beware.