Front Porch Chats #92/Second Pint D&M

Wander brewing's Correspondent foreign export stout in glass on table, outside

Let’s talk about the problem with numbers. Specifically, experience numbers and conceptual numbers.

Don’t worry, I brought a beer. Wander Brewing’s Correspondent foreign export stout, to be specific.

Earlier this week someone I know reposted a thought that went: “No matter how long I live, I won’t get over the fact that during the pandemic, the majority of people were unwilling to help.”

And I took exception to that: I don’t believe that most people were or are unwilling to help out; instead I believe that a small group have been terrible and that group has been spotlit and had their voices amplified so things seemed terrible, and I said I as much.

Her reply was: “You clearly don’t work in food service.”

What can I say to that? It isn’t wrong, but that reply is all about insisting on their experience and how it is the Truth.

I want to be clear here.

If one person treats you badly, every day-whether it is a different person or not-then eventually, what can you say except that you are being bullied? If you cannot go a single day without being accosted then your brain is going to tell you a survival truth: that most people are terrible and won’t do the minimum to help.

Which, given the state of service workers, nurses, any customer service jobs there is only one conclusion: they aren’t wrong.

And you cannot argue with an experience number, especially a negative one. Human brains are wired for survival as such that negative experiences last longer. My attempt to reframe that experience was unsuccessful and part of the reason for that, is the conceptual number problem.

Because there’s a point where a number gets large enough that most people just cannot imagine it. For example, 245,000,000. Most of us have never seen 245 million of anything, much less had the personal experience of that number.

But that’s roughly the number of people in the USA who have been fully vaccinated.

Or, 63%.

In Multnomah County, where both my pal and I live, that number goes up to 77%. (Or roughly 630,000 people. Again: how does someone really grok a number that big?)

But both of those numbers represent a majority.

They are just incredibly difficult to experience.

That’d be the opposite of this beer, which is pushing hard on the roasted elements of a stout. The Correspondent is nearly ashy, it’s so roasted. There’s only a tiny bit of sweetness to keep it all together but I’d say this is a quality beverage. Drink ’em if you got ’em.

Now, I don’t know how to reconcile the experience number and the conceptual one. I do know that it’s within our power to make everyone’s experience with us better, and it is within our control to help each other out.

Today’s second pint goes to Dinner & a Movie.

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