2388 Fam Bam Thank You Ma’am.

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When I was little I hated going to other people’s houses, especially for sleep overs, or that sort of thing, because other families weirded me out. I grew out of it a little over time, but I still don’t love observing the family dynamics of dysfunctional people, which covers pretty much all people. Until I was well into my teens my family had very rigid structure to our activities & the rituals of others seemed off putting to me. Other kids were always a bit freaked out in my house too because we were so structured in certain ways, but generally they liked it. I guess because people are drawn to rules in certain ways. Even now, much like Reggie, I’m struggling to think of how to explain it without writing a novel.
What I won’t have trouble explaining is supporting the comic via Patreon or Subscribestar. Links above. And on the side. Since Google and Amazon have completely ruined advertising on the internet creators are left asking directly for support. It’s not great but it’s the system we’re stuck with. So please think about paying me for doing this weird thing I do.


When I grew up I was one of five children, and our family going somewhere was somewhat like herding cats. I shake my head now thinking of what it must have been like for our parents. “I can’t find my shoes” “Wait, I need to go to the bathroom again” etc.

Perhaps as a consequence of that chaos, I have always been very interested in fallback plans in case something goes wrong. I think I may have gotten it from my dad.

So this one time when I was in high school, before cell phones were at all common, a friend of mine and I were going to some event (I think it was a career show at a high school) and my friend’s dad was driving us. The dad said “I’ll pick you guys up in front at 8:30pm.” I said “…and if there’s any problem with that we’ll call you at home.” The dad looked at me like I had two heads, and said, with elevated intensity: “There isn’t going to be any problem, because you both are going to be in front at 8:30pm.” I was severely taken back by his words and his tone! I did not attempt to argue or talk back… I don’t think I said another word to the dad for the rest of that car ride.

A very different energy than the cat-herding chaos of my own family.

Hey, have I told you yet today that I appreciate your work? Because I do. You find a way to make your characters resonate in very real ways. So many of us have only gained any insight into our families by visiting others.

It really is google’s fault now that I think about it. Youtube doesn’t have to have intrusive ads, but it does. And since it’s so mainstream, that incentivizes adblock developers to also step up their game.

Smaller fish in the sea that are content with just some sidebar ads on their webcomics, blogs, and what have you, end up caught up in the crossfire. Their ads get blocked just as quickly, despite them having done nothing wrong and most people being content with their unobtrusive adverts.

Yeah, my family has that to a degree. And I don’t hate it, not all the time; friends give each other a ribbing now and then. It’s how we show familiarity and trust (cue that scene from Demolition Man). But some take it too far–it’s over and over and over again. The same joke, the same comment, the same “observation”, until it starts to feel like an actual attack; “I’m just joking, why are you so offended by the one thing I said?” they cry, after you object to the 47th time they’ve mocked your haircut in the past week. What makes it worse is that far from being the best solution, the WORST thing to do is to try and have a calm, respectful, conversation about it–suddenly, the person who has been attacking you with snide remarks feels ATTACKED by you politely asking them to stop the snide remarks.

But I see it in broader society too–somehow, we’ve reached a point where calling out an asshole is more asshole-ish than being an asshole, otherwise known as the scientific answer to the question “Where the fuck did all the Karens come from?” You know, the “Don’t start” and “Don’t make a scene” and “Just let it go” that the VICTIMS get told constantly, while the folks nettling everyone they come into contact with are not only constantly “starting” but absolutely willing to “make a scene” and “not let it go” the moment they are called out. Maybe this will make me sound like a violent person (and I really, really am not), but sometimes I think what we need is to bring back the custom of an “ass-whupping” for people who can’t shut up. Not because I want anyone hurt, but it seems like the only thing that will get through to them.

Anyway, this kind of family experience made me adopt a rule; even with friends, I will make no more than 1 joke or comment about something personal, like a shirt or their car or whatever. I guess I’ll allow for another joke like a year+ later, but basically, I strictly limit myself so I don’t become like my family, constantly (metaphorically) poking people in the ribs until they don’t much like me anymore. I don’t think people specifically notice it, but I have gotten recognition for being the person who listens and lifts people up, not the dick who constantly cuts people down, so I’m proud of that.

There’s having rules and then having “rules” for the sake of having more rules.

My dad was a farmer. I grew up on a farm. I understood rules like “going to bed at a decent hour” so everyone could get some sleep before getting up at 5 AM every day to do farm chores before going to school (or doing MORE farming). Eating healthier, helping out where you can, helping others where you can, etc.

The problem is that once you get comfortable with rules, more tend to sneak in that don’t necessarily make a lot of sense for everyone, but just ONE person. Like when I started to drive, my dad implemented a rule that said, “You can’t drive more than one town over.” I mean, at first it made sense because I was still helping with the farm, but then when I had a girlfriend TWO towns over, it became a hindrance that I couldn’t get my dad change it even a little.

The next bunch of weird rules had mostly to do with the kids becoming independent from the farm. I wasn’t supposed to be in sports/school activities that took me out of the farm before 7 AM and after 5:30 PM. My sisters couldn’t date until after they were 17. Our vehicles were all mileage checked every day. No events that required my dad to stop working to attend – church or otherwise. Everyone attends the family reunions (OMG those were so bad).

The last ones were the ones that made me join the military just to escape. Everyone has to be in the same political party. Everyone has to go to church, no questions. No one is to get married unless approved by dad. You can’t complain about our home town in public. College has to be in-state, and you have to be within a few hours from home. My dad kept increasing the pressure and the rules because he was getting more and more stressed from farming, and the kids weren’t going to take over the 100 year old family farm.

Needless to say, my father is no longer a farmer after having lost his mind and his health nearly gave out. His father survived to 95, because he dumped the farm on my dad at 50. My great grandfather was a tyrant according to my mom – he died at age 47 from a heart attack. That farm was a curse that ruined my family, and I wasn’t about to let it happen to me. It created the worst environment but made me appreciate how to go about setting actual attainable goals and rules.

I think any authority figure, but parents in particular, easily slip into that “rules for the sake of rules” thing. I say parents because when we’re brats and don’t understand what electricity or poison or sharpness is, parents give us 100 seemingly inexplicable rules to keep us safe and in sight. And that’s good. But they get so used to it, they just keep on going as we age. And they treat a 16-year-old asking a rational question of “Why do you have this rule?” the same as a 6-year-old going “Waah, you won’t let me stick my hand in the garbage disposal, I hate you!” It’s probably inevitable to some degree, but it used to be mitigated by practical concerns; we didn’t have cars, phones, trackable cell phones, and so on, so parents simply could not control older kids as thoroughly as they can now (we also have a modern mentality of treating kids as kids until 18, while we used to marry at 14-15, so there’s some serious friction there). But it sort of applies to bosses too, the ones who also track your company car or monitor your social media or whatever. Folks forget what rules are supposed to be doing and just make them up as they go.

I think that’s where you get the difference between a “manager” and a “person who manages but likeable.”

My father affected my management style. When I joined ROTC and then went into the regular Air Force, my outlook about how to manage people wasn’t just “stick to the rules and be productive.” So for the length of my career, I had a lot of satisfied people working for me, but my commanding officer didn’t think I was strict enough. I had a lot of conversations about engagement.

When I left the AF to the private sector, I decided the best way to manage anyone was to be more of a coach and less of a supervisor. I’ve worked as a manager at three companies in 30 years, and at each job, my people were the most engaged and we always had awards and high ratings from other departments.

Basically, don’t ask people to do what you wouldn’t do in their shoes. Set a good example yourself. Allow people to grow. Engage people in the work they do (and help them stay engaged). Employees are human beings with lives outside of work, so try not to interrupt their lives. Show empathy. Be compassionate. Understand what you are talking about. Guide, not drive.

Funny how we’re now hearing about how employees more often quit managers and not the workplaces. Almost every time I get asked how I get people to be productive and satisfied, I answer just put yourself in their shoes and understand what they are going through, while trying to create a healthy, positive environment that doesn’t oppress them. And the response to my response is like they’ve never thought of such an alien concept before.

Rules for the sake of rules doesn’t make sense. It shouldn’t make sense. And trying to satisfy those rule makers is actually harmful to your health.

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