Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Lame Duck Can Collecting

I’ve been out of Grandma’s house for a while now, while the construction guys work on the mold, mildew, and anything else that may have sprung up and festered. So to keep my life interesting -- I have to start somewhere -- I moved to a major metro area, and I’m getting a taste of the concrete jungle. It's going OK so far, as long as I keep my group dynamics edge. Without group dynamics, I'd be sunk.

You know I don’t toot my own horn much about group dynamics. But it’s always been a thing with me, running seminars, disclosing the techniques to lucky petitioners, etc. BTW, I'm always available for company functions, as long as you're severely stressed and in the need of an expert with a nice personality. My mind is a wickedly adept computer for a few things. I can tell you immediately when I need to go to the bathroom, for one. Then there's the field of group dynamics. It was a huge talent in school. I could always sense when I wasn’t welcome in a group, which was more often than I liked.

So I’m in the metro area... Here I met a guy who turned me on to the possibilities of collecting beer/soda cans and taking them to a metal recycling place, where they pay 40 cents a pound! Sweet! If you walked the city all day you might net $3.00! And one of the principles of can collecting is, You have to go look for them, they don’t come to you. That means lots of walking, getting your feet wet in ditches; and with a lot of walking, you’re visible to a lot of people. “There’s that guy again," or, "What’s that guy doing on my turf?” I see other can collectors coming at me and I go the other way.

Anyway, group dynamics comes in handy for interpersonal interactions I can't avoid. And who better for it, since I'm the guy who formulated the “Three R’s Of Group Dynamics,” which, to review, are: 1) aRrange, 2) Reconnoiter, and 3) Ruminate. These have been mentioned in some (now out of print) textbooks on the subject, and it’s not rare to hear group dynamics guys mention them in passing. That’s the way they choose to do it, but I do it differently. The three points are uppermost in my mind!

Now to the cans. One of the best places to get cans is smaller parks where lots of guys hang out. They and others have drunk beer and littered the cans. With complications. What if they don’t leave? How do I know who the cans belong to? And since I don’t want to keep coming back, I have to go right in among them. The “aRranging” vis-a-vis them is already set, so I have to aRrange myself. I look for the least intrusive way to move among them. Example, if there’s 4 of them over here and 2 at the other end, I take the point of least resistance, the 2. I keep whatever distance I can without being too obviously fearful. I have to express some boldness or I’m a sitting duck. But I can’t be too close without encroaching. So far I haven’t been beaten up. And of course I’m friendly by strict policy. 

The last couple of times I’ve actually avoided that area of the park, because the aRranging can easily be out of my hands. I’m aRranging for the future, by approaching areas where one or two guys are, being very friendly with them, and hoping that I gain a good reputation through their unsolicited testimonies when I’m gone. It's a constant concern as to what's too much or too little.

The second point, Reconnoitering, has basically been touched on in my tact. But it’s a knowledge that has to continually build on itself. Some group dynamics sessions are in a more controlled setting, a seminar, a class, Sunday School. I did major research on the old retirees' table at McDonald’s that meets every morning, but so far haven’t published it. That’s a great one for Reconnoitering, because the aRrangement is essentially set. Besides calm tact, Reconnoitering among groups while collecting cans is tilted toward keeping your cool, remembering basic survival techniques, following your gut/instincts, and being willing to drop even the cans you’ve got and run like hell. Needless to say, that little rubber band twisting in my head, it's in good repair!

Ruminating — the third postulate — is what I do at home certainly, but since the situation with an unpredictable group is so fluid and rife with potential disaster, it's also done on the fly. The point is to build on what you’ve got, increasing in knowledge, wisdom, etc. But if you’re dead three minutes from now, there’s little gain. So I’m Ruminating continually, while the aRranging and Reconnoitering necessarily continue apace. “Is it worth .33 cents to ask that guy with the snarl on his face and crushing a can against his skull if I can have it?” Of course I generally pass, giving me so far the ability to walk in, walk out, and live to tell.

But because the situation is so volatile, I've taken to identifying with the lame duck. There's a lot of variables! I have to intuit more than I want! (Intuition is a division of Ruminating). So I’ve been avoiding that particular spot. Normally I’m walking, 99% of the time, but a couple days ago I drove by, and there they were, just waiting for that foolish guy with the plastic bag to show his squirrely face. The group dynamics gods speak otherwise, my friends! You're not going to beat the crap out of me so easily!

HOT LINK -- You might be interested in one of my group dynamics posts, when a home economics class vied to win a date with me.

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