Small Things

Joey Alarilla, in his Palanca-winning essay about living the wired life in the Zeroes, notes that our lives have now become subject to the whims of the gods of small things. You don’t have to look very far to find examples:

  • Does my PDA have enough juice to last me the whole day?
  • Is the office mail server down again?
  • Must I load my phone card with phone credits right now?
  • Is the car charger for my phone busted?
  • Will Blogger go down again and refuse to publish my posts?

I think the theory is that these things have no direct connection with living. Therefore, they are small and insignificant compared to other things, such as whether or not you make it through the day without losing your sanity.

One of the most significant themes that you find in literature is the theory that says it’s the small things in life that count, that make life worth living.


I read a short story once about how women notice the small things that men often overlook, and that sometimes that can spell the difference between murder and suicide. This story was written, of course, in a time where forensic science was more the work of fiction and fantasy than the serious academic subject that it is today. However, the point was made, and quite eloquently, too.

After all, it’s the thousand straws that break the camel’s back, to restate an old saying.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s hard to look at the big picture. People who study human nature say that people notice the faults of a person they see wearing white hats. They use this theory to explain why when famous people make mistakes, it’s funny. You don’t expect them to make mistakes. That’s why you also remember their booboos more than anything substantial that they may have said. Bill Clinton will probably be remembered more for Monica Lewinsky than for being the American President who led his country out of an insurmountable budget deficit, revived the American economy, and played a mean saxophone.

Last Tuesday, my wife had her own personal experience with the Gods of Small Things. dropped her new phone from the bedside table. Although that phone’s been dropped from higher places and on harder surfaces, this particular drop blanked out the phone’s LCD. She was despondent the whole day, until we got to Globe and had the thing fixed. Even though she got her phone back sans directory and unsaved images, it was as if she had been touched by an angel.

I think she was. Having her phone fixed made her happier than scoring at least 90 on all her midterms, the pain in her tooth (now pulled out, thank God), and the unending war she wages with acne.

So today, I had a small toss-up with my wife about where to have her tooth pulled. We weren’t seeing eye to eye on the whole thing, so I took a dive. As my friend Louie says, “you can’t win an argument with a woman, especially your wife.” My wife insists it’s my fault because I didn’t wake up early enough to get everything done so that the only thing left to do would be to take her to my friend, the dentist and have her tooth pulled out instead of the drama we had to endure earlier. After her tooth got extracted, it was as if she never got mad in the first place.

Amazing how the small things matter. I hope she notices.

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