April 22, 2019

Other Characteristics of a Counter

After reading my recent column about being a “counter,” many people have found it necessary to confess that they are also. I have not actually counted how many, but as I suspected, there are more out there than you would imagine.

Some have disagreed with my opinion that it was genetic or hereditary, because other family members classify them as being weird. None reported their family has gone to the extreme of keeping them hidden away when company arrives, but introductions may be cut short if you start to say, “It’s nice to meet you. You know, you’re the seventh boyfriend she’s had this year.”

Several people have told me they count the blinks of the WALK signs. They have even pointed out that different intersections blink a different number of times depending on the time of day and day of week. These people are really keeping close tabs on the WALK signs. If we ever experience a runaway blinker, I’m sure they will report it.

A lot of people count the railroad cars in a train while they’re waiting at the crossing; some people even count the cars passing through the intersection while waiting at a red light.

Many people count many different things. Some count straight lines, some count windows, or floors in a building, or the number of steps from their desk to the coffee machine. One friend counts exactly 12 Frosted Mini-Wheats into his breakfast bowl and then adds 24 blueberries (while in season of course). The list goes on.

Some of the confessions have led to conversations about related idiosyncrasies. For example, the same person that knows how many keys he has on his key ring also has all the teeth facing in the same direction. The keys are also in a certain order or grouping. Do not mess with this person’s keys. Most of these people also place their folding money in their wallet, in denomination order, with all the presidents facing the same direction.

Counters even eat snacks in their own way. Take animal crackers for example. There is only one way to eat them. Start by dumping the whole bag, and eat all the broken ones. (Don’t ask me why.) Then you line them all up by species, separating those that may be inclined to eat other crackers. You count each species and if you have only a few of a particular species, it is endangered, and you have to put them aside until their numbers increase. (Usually it takes another bag to accomplish this.)

Then you start with the most obnoxious species and gradually work your way down in order of descending obnoxiousness. You also must bite the heads off first, so they don’t see you eat them, (especially the “nice” animals). I have a young friend, however, that eats the legs first, so they can’t run away. His parents have already started putting money away for therapy.

M & M’s are handled in a similar manner. Dump the entire bag, count each color, and eat them, one at a time, starting with the color you have the most of. You gradually work them down until you are left with only one of each color. Any other way is just barbaric.

Speaking of M & M’s, why are they called that? I realize that a lot of them have little M’s printed on them, but I also see W’s, E’s and 3’s as well, so why aren’t they called M, W, E’s, & 3’s? Another thing, what happened to the tan ones? I can understand adding new colors, (if you like blue food), but who says you have to get rid of an old color? And why tan? Did the tan ones taste worse than the others did? Is this the result of an “anti-tan” movement? Did someone hold a survey asking customers which was the least popular color? All I know is that no one asked me.

I have noticed that people who are counters are more apt to have some of these other characteristics as well. People who don’t do these things have names for us, like “obsessive” or “anal-retentive,” but I call those people “labelers” and discount their opinion as jealousy. The people who exhibit these characteristics are not weird; we are intelligent, organized people who are extremely aware of our environments. So the next time you’re in line behind someone arranging his change in his wallet cut him some slack; it may be me.

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