INCOMPETENT: Coming Up Short in a World of Achievement

INCOMPETENT: Coming Up Short in a World of Achievement

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Overview

INCOMPETENT: Coming Up Short in a World of Achievement by James M Flammang

Some of us can do practically everything. Even more can do a few things well, and qualify as passable in a number of others. Yet another group of folks are able to do several things adequately – sufficient to provide satisfaction and generate rewards, monetary and otherwise – while falling short on the remainder of life’s activities.

Then, there are the rest of us.

When the Creator passed out skills and talents, we fully-seasoned incompetents must have been looking the other way.

Nonsense, many helpful friends would insist. Everybody has some kind of talent, these competent humans believe, and insist: something they are able to do especially well. Not all of them are big, noticeable talents, but we all have some skills.

Well, no. Sorry. Some of us simply don’t know how to do anything in more than the crudest, most ineffectual way. No one will ever say of us: “Remember him? He was really good at so-and-so.” All they’ll be able to say is: “Remember him? No, me neither. You hardly knew he was here at all.”

Personally, as a child, I had exactly two skills: spelling and math. While in first grade, I solved arithmetic problems meant for seventh-graders. In high school algebra class, the teacher invariably saved back the toughest problem for me.

At age 11, I was the best speller at James G. Blaine elementary school. Upon winning the district spelling bee that year, I thought I was the best speller in Chicago. Soon afterward I was on TV, participating in the Chicago Daily News Spelling Bee. Rather than win, as expected by everyone who knew me, I came in fourth – beaten by two kids whom I’d trounced in our district contest.

This tense experience seemed to be a portent of things to come, of competence lost. Eventually, someone invented the pocket calculator. Later on, the spell checker.

By then, my lack of competence in a host of areas was well established, as we’ll see in these chapters.

Comedian Lewis Black may have said it best. Explaining that like stereotypical Jewish people, he’s never been adept with mechanical devices and operations of even the simplest nature – he admitted that “it’s just by the grace of god I can actually wipe myself.”

Most of us aren’t quite that ill-equipped, but we definitely get the message.

The point of writing a book on such a negative subject isn’t merely to bemoan all my incompetences, of course. No, our real goal is to note that there are plenty of us incompetents out there, struggling unnoticed through each day, amid a world of high achievers.

These chapters are intended to provide a bit of solace to younger, up-and-coming incompetents, who have not yet come to grips with their lack of skills. Or, in some cases, are not yet aware of how inept they are, vainly relying on the old adage that “practice makes perfect.”

Sorry, strivers. For typical incompetents, a thousand years of practice and trying hard wouldn’t elevate us to the ranks of beginner, much less achiever.

If you’re one of us – or think you might be – take heart. You are not alone. Within these pages, you’ll see just how bad it could be, if you slipped into the ranks of the full-fledged, all-out incompetent.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780991126323
Publisher: TK Press / Tirekicking Today
Publication date: 10/24/2016
Pages: 186
Product dimensions: 5.51(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

James M. Flammang has been a journalist, writer, and editor for his entire working life. Since the 1980s, he's covered the automobile business as an independent journalist. In addition to contributing countless product reviews and feature articles to such publications as autoMedia, Kelley Blue Book, J.D. Power, cars.com, Consumer Guide, and the Chicago Tribune, Flammang has authored more than two dozen books. Most of those titles were about automotive history, but he also has written six books for children.
During the past few years, Flammang has eased away from the auto business in order to concentrate on books: mostly essays and memoirs, along with a bit of fiction, establishing TK Press to publish his work. Mr. Maurice Knows It All.... was the first of those titles, and Flammang's first e-book. Next came the Tirekicking Used Car Buyer's Guide, now followed by Incompetent. Coming soon: Absurdities, Work Hurts, Hotel Life, and Fraidy-Cat. Born in Chicago, Flammang lives just outside that city with his wife, advisor and editor, Marianne.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments v
Introduction vii
1. Sports 1
2. Swimming 8
3. Skating 11
4. Outdoor Life 14
5. Boy Scouting 18
6. Machines 21
7. Radio Woes 26
8. Computers 30
9. Car Trouble 34
10. Repair Work 39
11. Making Things 42
12. Small Talk 46
13. Sex and Romance 52
14. Making Friends 65
15. Keeping Friends 76
16. Dancing 82
17. Singing 87
18. Music 89
19. Art and Drawing 93
20. Games 96
21. Languages 100
22. Completing Tasks 103
23. Being Noticed 106
24. Making Decisions 109
25. Cooking 111
26. Cleaning 116
27. Business 119
28. Money 129
29. Public Speaking 133
30. Learning and Teaching 137
31. Telephones and Communication 141
32. Driving 144
33. Having Fun 152
34. Writing 155
35. Dead Last 160
36. Incompetence vs. Failure 162
37. So, aren't we all good at something? 165
38. Conclusion 168
About the Author 171

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