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Overachievers are making us seem lethargic

Posted: Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Living in your own skin is tough enough without having to deal with other people's idiosyncrasies.

I'm talking about the folks who feel they must go the extra mile, sometimes quite literally.

For instance, you might recall the 13-year-old boy who recently climbed Mount Everest. Quit showing off, kid!

I grew up near a mountain (well, a ridge, actually), and it was fun to climb.

We had enough sense to be off it before nightfall, though, because vertical and dark don't go well together. Weeks in the Himalayas? I don't think so.

From the safety of our porch at night, we could hear panthers wailing on the ridge, and it would never have occurred to us to hike 29,000 feet straight up into the abominable snowman's domain.

That boy's counterpart is the 16-year-old girl who tried to sail around the world alone and got fouled up by a storm.

When I was 16, I just wanted to buy a car so I could drive to school. Even a crowded bus full of high school misfits sounds better than spending 25,000 miles sailing alone with the fishes. Well, certainly no worse.

That mountain climber and sailor need to slow down and act like kids, not pint-size Tenzing Norgays and Ted Turners.

If they want adventure, all they have to do is wait. Let them raise families, pay mortgages, buy braces, hunt jobs and battle arthritis - those are adventures.

Anyway, they're making the rest of us look bad.

Another overachiever in the headlines lately was that man who tried to free himself from the boiler in his basement by cutting off his arm. Me, I would have taken a stuck arm as a sign of certain doom, like looking into the rear-view mirror and seeing a flashing blue light.

No matter how many times I hear about wild animals gnawing off limbs to escape traps, I don't think I would ever follow suit the way that guy did. A really painful hangnail is a near-death experience for me, so I'm not going to lop off a limb when the option is "anything else."

Other folks who get carried away are those who feel impelled to be the first to buy something, whether it's the midnight premiere of a movie or the introduction of a new cell phone or video gaming system.

What is to be gained from seeing the film before all your neighbors? If you try to tell them the plot, they will punch you. Then, while you are still nursing your jaw a few days later, they will go watch the very same movie more comfortably in a theater that isn't packed to the rafters with manic first-nighters.

Their brethren who camp out for days to buy the latest phone or game should be shopping for a life instead. It's not as though China is going to manufacture just a few electronic gadgets for a lucky handful who abandoned jobs and families to wait in line.

An old philosophy for car-buying is to wait awhile before purchasing a new model so all the bugs can be worked out. I'm sure that applies just as well to gadgets being rushed off the assembly line for the madding crowd.

If you find yourself in any of these categories, please, stop it. You're wearing me out.

• Reach Glynn Moore at glynn.moore@augustachronicle.com.



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