The 4 Most Incredibly Satisfying Everyday Achievements
We can't all scale Everest. We can't all hit a ton of home runs or sink a clutch Ray Allen-style three-pointer. The vast majority of us don't have the ability to do something big and headline-grabbing. We have to settle for the little things -- the small, everyday achievements that jolt us with pride. The little things that fill us with an astounding sense of success that quickly fades away because, ultimately, who gives a shit? It's not impressive in the least. But in that moment, to you, it's an astonishing victory that can lift your spirits, if only by a fraction of a percentage point, and act as a dim yet much-appreciated light in the midst of an otherwise dreary day.
These stupid, insignificant little things are tiny sources of confidence, of pride. They're things no one in their right mind would ever brag about, but still kind of want to. So let's do it. Let's brag a little about the little things like ...
Getting a USB into the Port in Fewer Than Five Attempts
If you can consistently get a USB cable into the port in fewer than five attempts, I think you're a wizard. If you can do it on the first shot every time, you are a god who can bend and shape existence to your will. I assume that, when you sit at a table, you just fall back into empty space and a chair from across the room glides beneath you. A USB cable shouldn't be at all difficult to plug in. Nearly all of our devices use them, and we plug at least one or two into something every day. But here's the problem:
USBs don't do a good job of conveying which side is up, so that little white strip in the center bangs against the incongruent end of the port, meaning I have successfully failed at my first attempt at plugging it in. Here's where it gets interesting: There's blood magic and voodoo curses in USB cables. Flip the plug, stab it in -- nothing. No obstruction, no white thingy getting in the way -- the cable knows. It knows you're trying to be cute by finding a solution. It summons its dark magics and prevents itself from being plugged in correctly. Flip it back and blah blah blah failure failure failure. This can go on for upwards of 30 seconds. If anything as basic as plugging a thing into a second thing goes on for more than seven seconds, it's a challenge thrown down by the God of Mundane Mischief -- a naughty, giggling cherub-looking bastard who takes great delight in igniting my short temper when it comes to uncooperative technology.
It's a battle of attrition. Eventually, if I wear down my USB foe, it will concede. It grows bored with making me think I have a learning disability. Much patience and shit was lost in this battle, making it an ugly victory, but a victory nonetheless. I commemorate each battle by taking that day off the following year.
Thankfully, we will soon be able to tell our grandchildren of our battles with USB cables and they'll have no clue what we're talking about, because in the not-too-distant future there will be directionless USB cables. We have won.
Opening the Microwave With Zero on the Clock, Beating the Beep
On most microwaves, there seems to be a faint, fleeting whisper of a moment between when the countdown hits zero and when the beep does its beepy thing. That moment is precious. It's mythical. It's an elusive beast only the brave and stupid attempt to capture. I attempt to catch it every time I use the microwave. I don't set the time and walk away -- I stand there, waiting. A good hunter fuses himself to his surroundings, knowing that moving will only degrade his shot at glory. Time slows around me, even though I'm staring at a countdown of time that is very clearly moving at the regular speed of time. My vision Instagrams -- a vintage-looking black ring circles my periphery, bringing my target into a sharp, duckfaced focus. I will beat the beep.
Most microwaveable food outside of water and popcorn isn't glorious. It's actually kind of depressing. The food always looks mopey and soggy, a little sad, like its dog just died.
Like eating the memories you're running away from.
It's the microwaves themselves that offer glory, and it is the glory of defeating time itself. Or maybe just victory over the speed at which the timer communicates with the beep mechanism? Whatever. Glory is glory.
Three seconds. The clock ticks down as the intoxicating scent of a 79-cent frozen burrito wafts into my nostrils. Two seconds. My nimble fingers grasp the handle, primed for an explosive pull. One second. My eyes are so focused on the time that I can almost see the goop within the digital clock begin to bleed into the form of the next set of numbers. Zero. Pull. CH-THUNK!
No beep. Just burrito and silence. Zero on the clock. That's how you make an awful microwaveable burrito delicious -- by seasoning it with the spice of victory.
Hitting a String of Green Lights
Hard work can get you far in life, but it's nothing without a little luck. Anyone who is successful and doesn't cite luck as a major factor in their success is an arrogant dick. When you're trying to beat a microwave countdown or get a USB into a slot, you're relying mostly on hard work. Luck plays a small yet crucial role. When it comes to something like, say, hitting a string of green lights while driving, there is no work. There is no effort. You are coasting on nothing but one of the purest examples of luck a person can encounter. That luck could have been used to pick the winning Powerball numbers, but you don't activate luck; it turns on whenever it wants. If it turns on while you're driving through a green light, your luck will assume it's time to give this drive some flow.
Your luck will extend its tendrils outward, far beyond the confines of your car. Those tendrils will slither around and envelop the traffic lights ahead of you, forcing them to create an ideal situation for your car's path.
Only vaguely phallic!
One after another, the tendrils of luck tear inconvenience from your drive, forcefully altering the predestined map of life, carving an unbroken road for you and only you, casting aside the wills and desires of all others in your way. Green after green, your luck disregards the lives of everyone on either side of your path. People are late for work, need to pick up their kids from school, or just want to get home and relax after a long day -- your luck tendrils care not for their plight. For a brief moment, you are the master of the road, the lord of all things vehicular. Everyone driving beside you is an innocent swimmer caught in your tsunami of good fortune.
All the green lights you're blazing through may not ultimately be your doing, but it's still happening to you. This is your achievement; your glory. You should be proud. But always understand that no matter how many lights you catch, you will never, ever, be as lucky as this guy:
That One Special and Stupid Thing You Can Do
All the previous entries were about the kinds of achievements most of us can experience, the shared accomplishments we can agree on. This entry is about the accomplishments we as individuals bring to the table. We all have one entirely useless thing we can achieve or have achieved that makes us puff our chests and proudly declare, "I ONCE DID A THING THAT IS IN NO WAY WORTHY OF BEING CAPS LOCKED!"
Taco Bells used to have a coin-drop game beside their registers. If you dropped a coin into a plastic tank of water and landed it on one of several little circular platforms, you'd win a taco. First time I ever tried it -- BAM! Landed on the platform -- taco. Tried it again days later -- taco. One time, as a broke high schooler, I only had some loose change, not even enough to pay for a taco. So I told my friend I could land a quarter on a platform and essentially buy a taco for a quarter -- BAM! First shot -- taco. Replace a baseball with tacos and it's my version of Babe Ruth calling his shot.
I can go even smaller yet even more impressive: I knew a guy who never had any trouble finding parking wherever he went. It was astounding. There was always a space readily available, and a good one, too. I'm talking the ones near the handicap spaces. The Presidential Suite of parking spaces. I guess he was the devil or something.
We've all got that stupid thing we're good at, and while I find it a little annoying when Internet writers end their articles by begging readers to comment and share their opinion, I'm going to do it now. I want to read about the stupid yet impressive things you've achieved. So put them in the comments. Let us all brag about things unworthy of being bragged about. Shower me with your astonishing tales of mediocrity!
The tendrils of luck have trapped Luis within an endless succession of green lights, and he fears it's turning into a horrible Twilight Zone-esque moral lesson about getting what you wish for. In the meantime, you can find him on Twitter and Tumblr.
For more odd things people can brag about, check out The 27 Most Impressively Nerdy Accomplishments.