Friday, December 2, 2011

What our bags say about us

I recently finished re-reading Snoop, a book about how to figure out what people are like by looking at their homes and offices.  I don't know how well it helped me snoop on other people (why don't you invite me to your home, and we'll find out??).   But it did help me appreciate something about my husband.

The author, Gosling, bases a lot of his analysis on 5 personality traits: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.  (Conveniently for those with weak memories, in this order they spell out "ocean").

My husband and I are high on openness (did I mention we're going to Haiti in 20 days?) and relatively low on agreeableness (if you sob on our shoulder, we're likely to tell you to suck it up).  We differ from one another most markedly on the traits in between.  I score really high on the conscientious scale; my guy not so much.  He scores high on the extroversion scale; I really value my "alone time".  So it's not surprising that one of our marital traditions, as it were, is that he calls me on the phone several times a day.  Just to say hi.  Because extroverts just like contact.  But me (conscientiously doing work), I want to get down to business, and seeing that there's no real business, I get tetchy, wanting to get back to work.

This also explains our approach to shopping bags.  Me, I have a large stock of canvas bags, ready to go to the store or anywhere else.  Part of the bag stock is by the back door near my well-organized garbage; the other part of the bag stock is in the trunk of the car (but of course).  And yet my guy comes home with plastic bags just about every time he goes to the grocery store.

Now, plastic bags don't cost me money, but they cost the world money both in manufacturing and disposal costs, so I'll lump the avoidance of plastic bags under the miser umbrella.  My guy agrees, at least in principal. So why does he bring them home?

Because using them takes longer.  He explained this in some detail to me the other night.  In the self-check-out lines, each canvas bag has to be "tared" (that is weighed) and the shopper has to call out to the cashier, and the cashier has to push buttons.  Meanwhile, other shoppers in line have to wait longer.  He hates waiting behind other people (he's not exactly a delayed gratification kind of a guy), but he also hates being the reason that other people behind HIM have to wait.

As for me, I don't care about those other people waiting a little longer.  And I think plastic bags are so evil that the extra time that so bugs my husband is something that wouldn't register on my radar.  And even if I did notice the extra time, I'm a huge fan of delayed gratification and self-control, so I would suck it up.

It'd be easy for me to think of plastic bags as what impulsive, inconsiderate people do.  But Snoop helped me realize that I've got the "inconsiderate" part wrong, at least in this case.   I'm not giving up on getting those bags out of my home, and now I've got a new angle for thinking about how to work together with my husband on this. 

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