Futility and Motivation

I was half listening to an audio book about motivation as I shuffled the Prius toward Walmart this morning. Like a be-spectacled goofy nerd girl who swore off jocks until one made a pass at her, I was doing a bit of light staging for a listing of mine (aka home for sale) that was about to appear on HGTV.

HGTV, for those that don’t know, stands for Horrendous and Godawful Television, and features shows where some clueless couple don’t understand why their home won’t sell until some prat with a wonky hair cut comes along and has a team of contractors complete some work for peanuts that doesn’t get factored into anyone’s budgets (but let’s face it viewers, we pay their wages by watching dumb commercials for Lowe’s in the ad breaks), and then someone in high heels with a Scottish accent comes along and chats up a bunch of real estate agents who are filmed walking with a briefcase under their arm towards the freshly spat and polished home to give it a resounding thumbs up.

Now I’m not saying that HGTV is everything that’s wrong with the world today, it just happens to misrepresent an industry in which I manoeuvre, and for some reason that still appalls me – that life just isn’t like how it’s depicted on TV. Maybe I should get a Scottish accent, a wonky hair cut and a clueless couple of my own. I mean, when I bought a flat in London, I was driven down the road by an estate agent who so angered another driver that I actually got spat on by someone I had never met before, and nearly became part of a physical assault. Estate agents – can’t associate with them, and can’t get Fred West to deal with them now that he’s dead. I bought a flat that looked shifty, had hideous paint, and, get this, and I felt lucky to get it.

HGTV, is in a nutshell, satan’s gift to women. And should be soundly thrashed. But if you can’t beat them (preferably with a giant sledgehammer – take that Holmes on Homes), join them. So while I spew about the injustices done to the fragile mind by the funny looking people at HGTV from one side of my mouth, being the two-faced spit-attracting realtor that I am, I danced a merry dance with the producers of a new HGTV show so that they would film two of the Mueller homes I have for sale.
Which is how I found myself heading to Walmart this morning to buy some “accessories” to “lightly stage” one of the homes. Now, when I was a teenager, I used to clean cars at a dealership, and one thing that we did was to sell some cars at auction. We would diligently clean the cars, and then drive them via Ashby De La Zouch to Measham. Once there, we’d clean them again. And thus the freshly double-shined vehicles would dazzle the eyes of the experienced auction buyers, and they would happily pay just a little bit too much for them. So I appreciate the value of the little touches, and the elbow grease needed to show something in its best light.

But here I am, giddy as a brace-wearing schoolgirl, rushing to buy trinkets to put in a house so that it can appear in a TV show that I probably think is a huge misrepresentation of the real world. And you know what? When I find out when the show is aired, I’ll probably tell people about it, and splash it all over my social needier. And I’ll make a little logo that says “As seen on HGTV” and put it in my marketing materials, despite having bought two products “as seen on TV” and having nothing good at all to say about them – take that Avery Dennisson Buttoneer.

An ex-colleague / room mate once explained to me his fascination with the pinnacle of engineering talents putting themselves to work in the pointless pursuit of making a man in a large metal box with four wheels accelerate over a relatively short distance. The futility of making cars that got from point A to point B in no short order, despite there being no need for the car to really leave point A at all, and the car and driver promptly returning to point A from their crushed-dinosaur jaunt to point B, as that’s where the sandwiches are anyway.

That has stuck with me, and partly explains why I make short videos of the speed gauges of cars I have access to, as I pointlessly thrash them down a flat straight strip of tarmac. See below.

And while we’re at it, car #1 is driven by many American police people. Heavy, large, gas hungry V8 4.6l making less horse power than a my little pony stable. Car #2 – soundly leaving the cops in the dust with a modest 2.0l engine. Go turbo villains, go turbo. You’ll save gas.

I haven’t listened to the entire audio book about motivation yet (what’s the point?) but it seems to me that they’re going to talk about extrinsic motivation (sticks, carrots, threats of assault and possibly spitting), intrinsic motivation (achieving mastery) and also the desire to be part of something bigger. On the last one, I can see why religion scores so highly for many – it’s like a get out of jail free gambit. (It’s not just that I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in religion.)

For me, posting the videos from my iPhone showing various underpowered cars struggling to get past 50 mph links me to something larger than myself – the entire 0-60 video community – a symbol for futility the world over.

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