Refusing to Choose

From “Choosing Not To Choose,” by T.M. Shine, Washington Post (12.4.08):

Hill Creek Pictures / Getty Images This may be the best idea I've ever had. For two weeks, I relinquished control over my decisions. I turned the reins over to perfect (well, I don't know about perfect) strangers.

Imagine the possibilities. You go shopping for sneakers and ask the person in the next aisle to pick out a pair for you, or you hop in a taxi and ask the driver to take you where he thinks you should go. Start small. At a restaurant, approach the couple eating at the next table -- "I hate to bother you, but I need to know what I want for dessert" -- and work your way up to bigger decisions: "Burial or cremation?"

You can't start smaller than Starbucks. I was bellying up to the barista, perspiring heavily from a bike ride, when I started to ask the woman beside me what I wanted to drink. She cut me off midway through my spiel about how I was asking strangers to make my decisions and social experiment and whatnot ... She didn't need any of that nonsense.

"Just have a water," she said, snatching a bottle from the front case and thrusting it at me.

She herself ordered something that took the barista 11 moves to make, but I was suddenly a model of simplicity: a sweaty man drinking cold water.
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Already, my life was beginning to emerge from the fog. Left to stew in my own brew of insecurities, I'd still be tortured over caf, decaf or half-caf. And the encounter didn't seem odd. Thanks to television shows such as "The Office" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," awkwardness is now fashionable. Awkward is the new suave.