Lazlo Zalezac: Blog

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June 23, 2011
Posted at 12:31 am

Quit Whining Dexter!

I think it is interesting that some readers consider Dexter a whiner. There have been so many comments to that effect, that I went back to the story to understand why readers feel that way. In looking over the story, I find that he hasn't really complained to anyone (except to his therapist and isn't that why one goes to a therapist?). I will admit that he did write a ranting webpage shortly after he was fired.

Dexter looks back at how life used to be and how it is now. The majority of that reflection is internal. He isn't sitting there telling everyone 'Woe is me -- I'm so unhappy.' He might be feeling that way, but he isn't broadcasting it to everyone. In fact, he takes action to get rid of the irritants in his life. That isn't whining.

Lazlo Zalezac, the author, does let you, the reader, know what is going on inside Dexter's head. It's part of making a social commentary about the world we live in. It is about pointing at something and saying -- 'Look, that is broken.'

The chapter about finding a bank isn't about him complaining that banks are bad. He is searching for a bank that provides him with the service he wants. There is no reason for him to give his patronage to a business that doesn't satisfy him. He states that position quite clearly to his lawyer as an explanation as to why he doesn't go to the first bank they encountered.

The chapter at the steakhouse is about his observations and the little irritants that we, as customers, put up with, and accept without complaint. He doesn't complain to anyone in that chapter. He actually enjoys his steak. He didn't enjoy the service so he left a lousy tip -- that's not exactly whining.

Dexter searches for businesses that provide the level of service that he wants. There is nothing wrong with that. He can spend a little more money to get the service he wants or he can serve himself to save a little money. That's a personal choice and it doesn't make one hardheaded, whiny, or an asshole. You have the same choices.

Many have suggested that Dexter should compromise on things such as the absence of a cherry on the ice cream sundae. Why, if he's paying for something, should he have to compromise on getting his money's worth? Why buy something if it isn't what you want? I think those are legitimate questions that anyone who is a customer should ask. Those questions are asked throughout the story in many different ways.

Now a common criticism of Dexter as a character concerns his treatment of his family. I have received many emails concerning how he acts like a hurt angry child. Having seen a few couples go through divorces, that kind of behavior is pretty common. More than one respectable man has spent a night in jail after being told by his wife that she wants a divorce. I know of few men who would react to a text message such as he received by texting back that they should go have a cup of tea and discuss the matter.

I tried to make Dexter a little human in how he reacted to his wife's text message. So yes, he's acting like a hurt angry child. It takes time to get over anger. It takes time for wounds to heal. Just spend some time with someone going through a divorce to see how quickly they bounce back.

Sometimes I wonder if the reason people feel uneasy about Dexter as a character is because they see the same problems, but are unwilling to accept that they are, in part, responsible for those problems. They accept bad service without comment and before long they've come to accept poor service as the status quo. They buy things that work for a year and then throw it away when it breaks without complaining that it was a waste of money -- accepting instead that is just how things are.

Perhaps, it is being told that accepting less than what you want now is going to assure that you're going to get less than what you want in the future. With each transaction between you and a business, you are establishing what level of service you are willing to accept. If you keep going back to poor service, you will continue to get poor service.

I believe that you can't fix a problem until you recognize it is a problem.

Here's an interesting statistic: approximately 1 out of a 100 babies at birth have bodies that differ from standard male or female. Almost everyone argues that that statistic is wrong. We consider gender confusion at birth to be relatively rare, but it isn't.

What does this statistic mean? Well, I suggest that means that if you have a problem, you can bet that with 6 billion people walking on this planet that there are a million others who have the same problem as you. That's kind of a scary thought, isn't it?

The upside to this is that if you find a solution to a problem, you can bet that someone will appreciate your solution.