Yesterday I started working at an advertising agency in Cape Town. Now, the stereotype is that Cape Town is full of Hipsters; furthermore, people involved in creative work (such as advertising) tend to be know-it-alls. Usually the combination of a know-it-all and a Hipster gives you an abominably rude/cold/egotistical person.
So, when I started work on the first day, I was surprised to find that my expectations had been slightly melodramatic – not everyone working there had this combination. For instance, the intern working with me was very soft-spoken and timid. [Yet it seemed as if she had a mean, gossipy streak that she was hiding]. Another guy also seemed really nice – I mean, c’mon, he even had a pink shirt on, how could he not be sensitive and all those other good things girls look for? [However, later when I couldn’t get through to one of his very important international calls, he tried to keep his demeanour calm and tranquil, but judging from the red anger rising up in his neck, I could tell he wanted to give call me an imbecile to say the least].*
Now, at this point you’re probably a bit confused. On the one hand it seems as if I’m saying that I wished that people at my work would be civil and control their urges to shout at me, but on the other hand I’m complaining about the people that actually fulfilled these wishes of mine. Today when I saw this controversy in the workings of my mind I finally realised that I am actually really fond of rude people.
There is one lady at our office who is especially intimidating. Her hair is short and angular. She walks purposefully on her tongue-click heels. Her gaze is the worst: it makes you think of excuses even if you haven’t done anything wrong – she literally stares daggers at you. Then there’s my boss – cold precision jumps to mind. These two people, however, are held in my highest regards! I think I’ve figured out why I (and so many others**) clutter around rude people like flies around a carcass: If you think about it in poperant conditioning terms (think the opposite to Pavlov and his dogs), then it makes sense that because it’s so difficult to get rude people to crack a smile, once you do get them to crack a smile, your personal feeling of achiement is so much higher than when someone timid (and slightly fake) smiles with empty eyes at almost every sentence you utter.
There are however also genuinely kind people. Take, for instance, the receptionist – she is the sweetest lady and although I cannot say with total guarantee, I believe she would not hurt a fly or (equivocal to a fly at this point in my internship) me. When she smiles (which is often) you can see she really means it.
I guess my conclusion would be that that old cliché – “be yourself” – holds a lot of water. The only thing they don’t tell you in Sunday school (or wherever you heard it the first time) is that even if “yourself” is a rude, cold person, being genuine will still get you way more appreciation in this world than being a yuppie suck-up.
* Please take note that I am not discriminating against guys who wear pink shirts. I am however poking fun at doucebags who wear pink shirts to appear sensitive.
**Those to whom I’ve answered the question “Why do I fall in love with assholes? :(”, your thanks is much appreciated [bow] 😛