Sunday, February 10, 2008

Soviet Border Guard Syndrome (SBGS)

I've noticed a little phenomenon in life and have come up with a name to explain it.

Here are the charateristics of the situation:

Take an individual with very little control over events in his or her life. May not have much authority or get much respect at home. May not have much authority or get much respect at work. Life may generally suck.

This same individual gets into in a position of power or authority, usually some small sphere of life, say the referee at your kids soccer game or the convenant committee on the homeowners association.

When you interact with this individual, you must, YOU MUST, lend this person proper deference to their authority, because while you are in their sphere, they have the power. Threaten their power or disrespect them at your own risk. Otherwise, they will make that little sphere of life as miserable for you as the rest of their life outside it is for them.

This I call "Soviet Border Guard Syndrome."

I hope that's clear enough, but if not, imagine yourself at a Soviet border checkpoint or customs dealing with some minor functionary. He says you have to do something or he's not letting you in (or out). You know its a grey area, and decide that you don't have to follow his orders. Your life becomes miserable until... well until you see it his way. Of course if you "go over his head," to get your way it won't be forgotten and you will be miserable the next time you try to pass his checkpoint.

Soviet Border Guard Syndrome. SBGS


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