Saturday, January 9, 2010

Good. Bad. Ugly.

I was talking today about somebody I don't like -- and I realized I am pretty damn lucky to have such a short list of those. This is a pretty passive dislike -- it isn't somebody I have to run across on a regular basis. In my 30s, it would've been a longer list in the first place. But in my 40s, it's a pretty rare occasion that forces me to socially interact with people I find truly distasteful.

Mostly, they avoid me. (I did not say they were Idiots. I said they were distasteful.) There's a guy I know from the 90s for example who hangs out at my neighborhood pub. In the 90s, he fired me. Which is fine. It all worked out for the best, and I don't typically spare him a second's thought unless he's right in front of my face -- where, inevitably, someone will go to the unfortunate trouble of introducing us. "Oh, have you two met....?" And I always respond brightly with, "we sure have. He fired me!" Now, the reason I say that is NOT to force an awkward confrontation and make people uncomfortable -- it's because 1. I refuse to be embarrassed by the fact that I was fired. I did everything I was hired to do and then some. I routinely worked 80 hour weeks for a pittance; and the job actually cost me money (a reimbursement request at a non-profit? HA! Did I mention this was the NINETIES?) While there are probably endless nuances to anybody's story of how they got fired, this one's pretty simple. I was good at Management, and bad at Politics. Worse, I behaved with a pretty stupid, naive, reckless disregard of those politics for somebody who actually needs to work for a living -- in direct contrast to the Board members who hired me to do that job. I doubt that shocks anybody. Second, I know if I don't disclose this right up front, the second I walk away, this is a guy who would stage-whisper, "Know her? I fired her," and this would be followed by an arched eyebrow or nudge that would imply something nasty or sordid.

One of the things I learned at that job (embarrassingly late in life) was how to kinda divide folks up according to good people, bad people, kind people, nice people, etc.

I've never had much use for "nice" (which a lot of these people were, and probably isn't at the top of my list of virtues), but I really, really value "good" and "kind." They taught me a lot about the difference. A lot of people are nice when there's something in it for them. But I don't judge people by how they treat their "peers" -- I judge em by how they treat the Help when they think nobody's looking.

I used to get so irritated all through high school  when my parents would insist repeatedly, "you are known by the company you keep missy," usually to register disapproval of a particular friend I had chosen. To my credit, I remained fiercely loyal to my choices -- and to their credit, they were probably right that I made a few bad calls. I would say today if you judged me purely on the basis of the people who love me, you'd probably conclude I must be a pretty good person (or an extremely effective Con...and you already know how much I suck at social politics, so that seems unlikely).

So the person who came up in today's conversation (better known as "Seabiscuit" by my gay husband, an extraordinarily GOOD guy) is kind of a holdover relic from that era of UnKind, Not-Good People -- just not somebody I would typically cross paths with. If I did, and I was forced to offer a comment of some sort (as my friend Ian recently insisted on -- insisted I tell you), what I would probably say, and possibly did say to Ian, is "it sure would be a shame to be that tall and not at all pretty."

What?... Is that not nice?

No comments:

Post a Comment