I’m a firm believer that everyone has some kind of unique and special skill, but let’s be honest: most of them are never going to do us any good. Even if we wanted to, it’s not like we could use our powers at bubble-gum art or double-jointed knuckle cracking for the greater good. Still, these facets pepper all our lives, and make us each just a little bit interesting, in one way or another. So without further ado, here are some of the absolutely useless skills I have and tricks I can perform.

1) I can sneak up on almost anyone… even when I’m trying not to.

Now, before you start telling me about all the instances where this ability might actually prove useful at times, let me make one thing absolutely clear: this is not a fun power to have. Yes, theoretically in a novel if I was cast as a spy or a criminal or a soldier, this would be absolutely fantastic! Imagine all the places I could sneak into! All the plot-important conversations I could overhear!

Fortunately or unfortunately for me, I am not the protagonist in a high-action superhero novel, so in reality all this “power” means is that I get to hear people shriek and say, “Oh my god, you scared me!” at least three times a week. Yes, even when I am trying to make noise as I approach. Yes, even if they are expecting me to walk up. No, there is nothing I can apparently do about it. I don’t know if my footsteps are soft or my manner is unassuming, but whatever it is, I think at this point the only solution is for me to wear a bell around my neck.

2) Hand me a stack of paper money (same denominations) and I can tell you how much cash I’m holding, to within 2-3 bills of accuracy.

Is this one even a power, or just practice? I don’t know, but I’ll claim some innate skill at it just because of how damn good I am at telling. It’s true that I work with cash at my day job, but there’s experience, and then there’s the almost spooky degree of accuracy I have at picking up a stack of money and going, “Yup, that’s $500,” or “We need just a few more singles to make $25.”

3) Jingles and other advertising phrases, once they’re in my head, will never, ever leave.

Never mind the ear worms that become part of the mass cultural memory. Want to know the slogan for a local bank my parents used to use when I was a kid? How about the line that ran during a deodorant commercial for a few months back in 1996? To this day, whenever I hear brand names, products, companies, their age-old advertising phrases still slide effortlessly through my brain. I am, at least, good at not saying them out loud—but I will always, always hear it.

4) People do not ever leave feedback about me, and often seem to forget my existence once I am out of sight.

Again, potentially great in a spy-thriller. And sometimes, I’ll admit, this one is even a tiny bit useful in real life, if I’ve accidentally pissed someone off or offended a customer at work. I honestly don’t think my managers have ever gotten a complaint about me—but, by the same token, it doesn’t matter how much I bend over backward to help our patrons, no one is ever going to tell my boss I did a great job. This isn’t a slight against any of them, by the way, it’s just something that’s always true. It’s a good thing that I’ve long since accepted that helping people at my job is it’s own reward.

5) I can swim forever.

Probably not technically true, but so far I have never found the upper limit of my distance-swimming abilities. Even if I am slightly tired and want a rest, I can flip onto my back and float indefinitely. As a kid on vacation, my family used to swim out to an island a mile into the lake and back again, and as an adult I swim laps for a full hour in my local pool without stopping. Honestly, the only things that get me out of the water are bodily needs (food, bathroom breaks, avoiding sunburn), but if I could find a way to handle that without leaving? Baby, I’d turn into a literal mermaid.


All right, so those are mine! What about you, do you have any weird quirks or abilities that you can’t explain how you got? Do they drive you crazy, like several of mine do, or have you found a way to harness them for your own purpose? Let me know!