Did I Say That?: In 2021 Joe Pisani resolves to judge less, answer the phone and look for the good

Joe Pisani makes his resolutions for 2021.

Joe Pisani makes his resolutions for 2021.

Joe Pisani /

Last night I came up with a few New Year’s resolutions, just so it doesn’t look like I’m sleeping on the job. They’re pretty straightforward: a new improved me, more flashy features, politically correct views and less energy consumption.

We all want to believe we can change, even though we usually end the year the same way we began it. Changing for the better is hard, but changing for the worse is easy.

Over the years, I’ve had a lot of resolutions that went nowhere, such as spend less, save more, eat less, exercise more, criticize less, praise more, be kinder, be gentler, be more compassionate. I’m still trying. There’s no standing still. If we’re not striving to become better, we become badder. (I know, “badder” isn’t a word, but it sounds good.)

Here are my 2021 resolutions:

1. I’m going to express my opinion less. I’m tired of opinions. After months of reading and listening to political commentary, I have a terrible headache. Blah, blah, blah. Some people can’t shut up about politics, and they usually have a column. Enough already. I don’t care if you’re a Democrat or a Republican. I don’t want to hear your opinion, and I won’t tell you mine. On that positive note...

2. I’m going to concentrate on what’s truly important. My dog. I trust my dog more than anyone. I want her to run for president in 2024. She is truly democratic. She growls at everyone.

3. I’m going to TRY to judge people less. I still remember the day my father dressed me down when I was passing judgment on my sister for some indiscretion. “Take your own inventory,” he growled. It was a piece of advice from Alcoholics Anonymous that I’ve always remembered.

4. When the phone rings, I’m going to answer it, although I might wait to see if my wife answers it first, because I don’t want to talk to pollsters, telemarketers or scammers. To my thinking, a ringing phone means bad news.

If Joe Biden wants to do something productive, the first thing he should do after getting his house in order is solve the national telephone crisis. If this great country can whip up a COVID-19 vaccine, it ought to be able to control phone scams.

The truth is this: I’m resolving to answer the phone because I’m guilty over something that happened a few years ago. A guy named Colin (Not his real name. Well, maybe it is. He actually could be Don or Dan or Dick) called me. He left a voice message that said, “Joe, I need to talk.” I let it go to voicemail because Colin or Don or Dan or Dick annoyed me without even trying.

The next day, he called again and left a message: “Joe, I need to talk.” I didn’t return the call. I was too busy, I was too important, I was too selfish.

A few days later, he called again and in a faltering voice said, “Joe, I called because I needed someone to talk to. My wife left me.”

Moral theologians would call what I did — or failed to do — a “sin of omission.” Guilty as charged. When the day finally comes to defend what I did with my life, or didn’t do, that incident will be right at the top of the list. Never ignore an occasion to help someone.

So now I’m going to answer the phone even though I might start swearing if you want to sell me life insurance or a timeshare in Opa-locka, Florida.

5. I’m going to look for the good in people, instead of the bad. In his first inaugural address, President Abraham Lincoln offered this consolation to the defeated Democrats, many of whom supported slavery: “We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory ... will swell the chorus when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

I’m going to call out to those better angels. You should too.

Joe Pisani can be reached at joefpisani@yahoo.com.