There Isn't Any

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There isn't any.

There Isn't Any is the foremost excuse in the frequent case when something that is supposed to happen doesn't; notably, when a person who promises you something doesn't fulfill the promise. The absence of a key component or ingredient is an unarguable reason why you didn't get what you wanted.

Like all excuses, There Isn't Any is a true statement (although you can't prove a negative, you can search the cupboard or the stockroom and see that There Isn't Any, if you want to be a dick) which evades all discussion of why There Isn't Any; above all, why no one did his job and planned ahead so that there might be some.

There Isn't Any in other cultures

¡Disculpa! todavía No Hay combustible.

In Latin America, There Isn't Any is No Hay (pronounced "no eye"). This region has a hierarchical tradition, based on everything from the Conquistadors to the Catholic Church to modern military dictatorships. Pleasing other people ranks high above getting anything done, and making a promise ranks high above keeping it. The truly successful person makes many times more promises than he could ever hope to keep, and must traffic in excuses that neither challenge his intention to keep the promise nor offend the person who received it. There Isn't Any is a handy, value-neutral excuse. It's no one's fault that There Isn't Any--even if you are the stock clerk--there just isn't any.

Latin American society has survived for centuries on this model. Nothing gets done, it's no one's fault, and life is easy.

The canine world is equally hierarchical. If There Isn't Any water in the bowl, Fido doesn't blame you nor contemplate the mechanics of evaporation, and you don't blame him for being thirsty. He simply exhibits behavior that, in the past, has resulted in water being put in the bowl. Or he adapts and drinks from the gutter or toilet.


57 varieties of "sod all."
  • You can't get a steak in the five-star steakhouse in the capital city if There Isn't Any beef.
  • You can't be expected to spend the day productively if There Isn't Any work. (In your city. In your profession. At your pay grade.)
  • You can't be faulted for stealing a loaf of bread if There Isn't Any food at home. Nor for failing to, if There Isn't Any in the store either.

What to do about it

Going downtown to achieve a simple task is a fine way to spend a day of your vacation. It takes all day because, at key points, There Isn't Any (buses, the product you want to buy, employees at the service counter, anyone who knows anything). Above all, do not wait for there to be any, nor complain, nor take matters into your own hands. You may change your expectations for the day so that you might stop looking for stuff of which There Isn't Any. Or just enjoy the people, the conversations, and the chance to put aside your assumptions about how the world works. It doesn't.

One exception is if you find out that There Isn't Any plane leaving today to take you back home. A small amount of experience tells you that you'll find There Isn't Any tomorrow either, or the next day. Unless you want to check out of the luxury hotel and sample life in a barrio, the solution is to talk your way onto a flight anywhere in the developed world, where the normal rules will once again apply and you can get home. You might not like a world where money talks, but money never says There Isn't Any.

See also

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