This is part ten of a thirty day trial, during which I am going to write and publish a post every day. No refunds. Comments welcome and encouraged!
This is a story about principles and how they carry over from outside the realm of business.
I was at the physical therapist a few days ago, settling up with my co-pay after an appointment. I have to go to physical therapy now, after producing The Videoblogs on nights and weekends for almost three years. My shoulders, arms and elbows — among other things — are all messed up from overuse.
The elevator opened and someone appeared next to me. A man. Talking on the phone. He stared at the receptionist, with a look on his face that said: “I shouldn’t have to say anything.”
No greeting, no words — not even for the person on the other side of the phone. No — this man’s simmering little wrath was most important for the moment.
The receptionist, to his credit, didn’t completely take this shit. Not for the first time, I felt sympathy for the tired hordes of battle-weary medical administrative staff — the main buffer between a cold and exploitative major industry and the people constantly squeezed and tossed around by that industry.
The man said his name. His annoyed expression deepened.
“The name of the person you’re here to see?”
It’s a big office, with a few different sub-specialties practiced. Still, I’m not sure the receptionist needed to ask that. I think he asked out of vengeance.
I decided I liked the receptionist. The annoyed man gave the information requested. The act seemed to almost cost him his life.
The receptionist thanked the man — who resumed talking on the phone — and then indicated that he should wait in the reception area, to the side of us. The man went.
During all this, I was waiting patiently for an issue with the computer, that was preventing me from paying, to get resolved. But I was also amused by The Annoyed Man.
It wasn’t hard to listen in to his conversation as it continued — and that’s when things took a turn towards the personal, and became an example of something I decided I wanted to share, to the (hopeful) benefit of everyone.
This man continued to act rudely on the phone. By the snippets of the conversation I could pick up, since it was now The Annoyed Man’s world — that I was just living in — I soon realized that he works in the film industry.
There was talk of a Director. Of a Project. Of a Studio. Maybe it was typical talk, of a typical tone, for The Industry. But I like to think it’s not. To tell the truth, I don’t have many ways of yet knowing for sure.
What I do know is that I will always remember that man’s face. If I ever see him, in a meeting or at an event, in the future near or far — I’ll remember him.
You’re someone who is rude, and/or disrespectful to receptionists.
We’re never going to work together, if I can help it.
I bring this up because I think it’s a good reminder, not only to do things for the right reasons — The Annoyed Man could, in fact, love film — but to comport yourself with at least some semblance of humility, no matter where you are, and what you’re doing or with whom.
Could The Annoyed Man have been having a bad day? Sure. But there’s a difference, I think, between getting snippy and being a snip. He was a snip.
Further, I don’t know that people who act like The Annoyed Man did, in this case, are going to be able to continue to conduct themselves in such a fashion so often in the near future. For better or worse, we’re becoming a culture who calls out bullshit — as I am doing now.
It’s very possible that he’ll be taken to task for how he is (or sometimes acts) at some point in his life, regardless of what I or anyone else might say on the internet. But the internet is always out there, watching — and remembering, like me — and behind it are more than a few people who won’t tolerate rudeness and disrespect.
We just don’t have time for it.
Perhaps that’s a separate conversation, because I tend to believe too many people are too quick to condemn and vilify online, and in general, these days. But it’s a separate thing to observe and to remember, and to protect yourself (and/or your work and efforts) accordingly.
Day 4: Circle Up and Laugh
Day 5: On The Future of Labor
Day 7: The Word for World is Earth