Sure, sometimes I feel under-appreciated. Who doesn’t? The many thankless tasks that I complete that go unnoticed and unthanked–it happens.
But most recently, I’ve noticed how much credit I get for things that I just don’t deserve. I feel like an imposter. The general consensus is that I’m generous, “a nice guy.” But I know my darkness. I feel like the character William, from the film Almost Famous who explodes when the character Penny Lane declares him to be “sweet.” “Where do you get sweet? I am dark and mysterious, and pissed off! And I could be very dangerous to all of you. You should know that about me.”
Yeah, that’s me. Dark, mysterious, pissed off. Just this week I purposely drove 50 yards or so down a one-way street the wrong way just to to avoid going around the block. Dangerous.
Most recently I got way too much praise for something I did out of sheer impatience. I was standing in line at a Kaiser pharmacy behind a young man who had to be at least 18 years old, but appeared to have no clue about the process for ordering or paying for medication that he apparently needed right away. He showed up to get the prescription with no money and no credit card. The attendant let him use the phone to call his parents thinking they could give a credit card number over the phone to cover the co-pay. For some reason this was no longer (if it ever had been) allowed. There was a lot of shrugging and “well, I don’t know what to tell you” going on and they were about to let him make another phone call while the line continued to build when I called out loudly to the cashier, “Is this about a $10.00 co-pay?”
She looked up at me, startled, unsure if she could share such privileged information, and so I asked her again speaking more slowly and more clearly. She finally answered in the affirmative, and I leaned forward and slapped a $10 bill on the counter and said to the kid, “I got you covered on this one.”
What appears to be naked and unexpected generosity is often confusing, so it took a second for her and the boy to realize that I was willing, without question, to pay the toll for the kid’s medicine. Finally, the boy thanked me profusely, and the cashier told me repeatedly what a nice person I was for doing this. The guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder. “You paying for him, man? You’re like, paying it forward. Man, that is really cool.”
What I was paying for was convenience and my own impatience. It was well worth the ten bucks to get to the front of the line and not have to wait any longer for the Kaiser people to figure out what to do with this kid. but the people who witnessed the transaction were left with the impression that I was just an exemplary guy. Extra credit, see?
After keeping the same eyeglass frames for 8 years, I changed them up recently. One friend told me they made me look “edgy”–my true self becoming more apparent.
I also jaywalk–frequently.
For now, I’ll stick with the generally false impression I’ve created. It helps me to navigate the world with a good reputation. Only you, my 12 faithful readers, will know the real truth.
9 thoughts on “Secret Self”
Hi! I’m one of your “12”, I enjoy your blog. Sometimes elf-service is a good thing for others.
Thanks so much. I agree. Especially now we need people with a generous heart. I was just taken aback by this particular incident and thought everyone’s reaction was funny.
Reblogged this on Your Mind In Bloom, LLC 1-203-414-5176 and commented:
Thanks for reblogging this!! I felt really honored. I’m looking forward to exploring your blog.
I just love your honesty. Good on you! Katie
Thanks, Katie, for following the blog. I really appreciate the comments. I’d like to think that I write with a lot of honesty and integrity, but I also know how much I hold back when I’m getting into really personal issues. In fact, I think I dive into humor to avoid some of the personal stuff. But, I find the more personal it is, the more that people actually respond to the writing. Have a good weekend and thanks again.
You know you’re spot on – when it’s really open and honest it does provoke comments as I think people pick up on it and can relate to it. Keep writing! Katie
I’m starting to wonder if the “giving people credit” phenomenon you described is pretty common. I cop these types of compliments at work a lot, even though anything I do is solely concerned with covering my backside. Is it because the “good job” phrase that is dished out to kids everywhere is really catching on? “Oh look, you came last today, but at least you tried… GOOD JOB!” Personally I prefer “You failed… try harder.” Or “Just quit and save some time.”
I constantly assure people that I’m basically incompetent and that the only reason I haven’t caused a catastrophe is just pure dumb luck. But their optimism is my ability is just nauseating and seriously misguided.
As a teacher, I was pretty big on the encouragement/positive feedback side of thing with kids, but it took a conscious decision not to really bag on this kid because he was so clueless. As for me, I feel like you, that most of the praise directed my way is misguided. A friend of mine who runs a gift shop that I frequent always remarks on how “thoughtful” I am about getting gifts for my wife and others. I keep trying to explain that I’m motivated by guilt and fear mostly. I’m not sure she gets it yet.