It would’ve been difficult for me to evaluate the advertising executive trying to sell my wife on radio ad space in a normal manner, because he dressed like every guy I hated in high school. I knew I was being unfair, but as Anaïs Nin said, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Certain aspects of the way things are, are complicated by the way things were, in other words, and we cannot escape those influences.
The guy’s checkered pants reminded me of one of my many arch rivals in high school. The checkers were multi-colored, of course, but some of those colors were pink, and my arch rivals wore pink. I hated this ad exec. I hated him in the same manner I hated my arch rivals. The ad exec wore sensible shoes, chic eyeglasses, and he wore his hair in a messy coif. He was also a people person that knew how to relate to the folks, and I didn’t want to have anything to do with him before he said twenty words.
“I don’t even have cable!” was the most memorable thing this nouveau hipster said to punctuate the fact that he didn’t watch TV. “I only have Netflix, because my kid enjoys some show, but that’s the only reason.”
“Wow!” is what we were supposed to say in the space he provided. “You’re so esoteric, and philosophical! You’re what they call ‘a with’ it dude!” The hipster mentioned the name of the show his kid enjoyed, but it was as irrelevant to him as it was us. He didn’t want us to know anything about his kid. He wanted us focused on him and his preferences.
He was a flood of useless information about himself. He was on the edge of his seat wondering what he was going to say next. He was a serious man who didn’t take himself too seriously, but he could get out of control at times too, and he knew that I knew that’s just the way he was, even though I never met him before.
“I don’t drink soda! It’s gross!” he said to initiate another preferences portion of our conversation, so that our sales meeting could be delightfully informal. He found his preferences to be very esoteric and philosophical, and he found that if he added a personal touch to his conversation it would culminate in a sale. This portion of the conversation gave schlubs like us a point where we could all relate to this salesman. He was being real for us to sell himself in the manner all salesmen know is fundamental to obligating customers to fork over a dollar.
As the two of us listened to this man, he presumably decided he was losing me at one point in our conversation, so he decided to focus his energy on me. He directed his energy at talking more often, when his focus should’ve been on talking less. This esoteric ad exec struck me as the type who has always been able to talk himself out of a pickle. His modus operandi (M.O.), I can only assume, was focused on creating more chaos in the minds of his clients, so that they didn’t have time to consider if a sale would be beneficial to them or not. I think he watched the tactics that law enforcement officials use in a drug bust. Break in, crash things, smash things, and scream a bunch of things at high volume to dismantle the central nervous system of the alleged perpetrators, so they don’t know what is going on, until the scene is secure.
I’m not sure, if this ad exec decided to disregard transitions in his stories, or if he wasn’t a fella that employed transitions, but his stories began to arrive in such a flurry that I lost my place in his stories a number of times, and I ended up forgetting almost everything he said. He was turning red at various points, and he began yawning in others. This suggested to me that his brain wasn’t receiving enough oxygen, but it was obvious that he preferred an oxygen depleted brain to a lost sale.
“Wow! You must really be smart,” those without control of their sardonic nature would say to the list of this man’s preferences. This is the type of response that an esoteric man expects from a TV watching, soda drinking, Neanderthal. He didn’t get it, this time. This time, he got a guy who stared at him with silent ambivalence, waiting for him to get back to the whole reason we came to him for in the first place.
“You know?” was the only transition that this man didn’t completely abdicate. It was the only form of punctuation this man had left to let his listener know that a sentence was complete. He mixed in a couple “You know what I’m saying?” questions to prevent losing me with redundancies, but that was the extent of his variation.
“Yes!” I replied to put a verbal foot on the floor and keep his transitions from spinning out of control. I almost screamed it once, but the parental, patience practice of counting to ten was all that prevented the outburst.
He engaged in an “aren’t we guys stupid?” chat that everyone considers harmless fun. When that didn’t achieve the desired result from me, he flipped to the “we’re all really stupid anyway” pop psychology, gender neutral nuggets, and the two of us were supposed to laugh heartily at those stories, because we could both relate to dumb people humor. It reminded me of a heavy metal band’s lead singer attempt to reach his audience by mentioning the fact that he actually rode in a motorized vehicle on the paved roads of my hometown. “Today as we were driving down MAIN STREET…” YEAH!
He was a nicknames feller. Even though he didn’t apply such nicknames to me, I’m quite sure that he calls more than one male in his life “dawg”. He probably also calls a couple of them “Bra!” and he bumps fists with them as he works his way past their cubicle. I don’t know if he has any authority in his place of work. If he does, I’m sure he asks all his peeps to call him by his first name, because he’s an informal fella who wants informal relationships with all of his peeps. I’m sure he has an open-door policy, and that all his top performers are “rock stars!” He’s a people person who’s not afraid to let his hair down. If one of his peeps has a name that begins with a B, I’m sure he calls them ‘B’, or ‘J Dawg’ if their name starts with a J. He’s also the esoteric guy in the office that conforms to group thought when called upon to do so. I’ve been around his type so often that I can pick them out of a closet from fifty yards away. They all have nihilist beliefs in private, and they don’t bow to the man, until that man is in the room, and then they turn around to insult “the dude” the moment after he leaves the room and they hear the click of the door closing.
We didn’t talk politics, but I’d be willing to wax Brazilian if it’s revealed to me that we see eye to eye on anything. He’s the type who seeks “a third way” of governing. He strives to avoid labeling. He prefers the open-minded perception. He pities those simpletons conditioned to believe that there are actually very few forms of government from which to choose, and that there are only two viable political parties in this country to run it. Their type knows of another way. They don’t have specifics, but they feel sorry for those of us that have bought into the system. They are open-minded. They are extraordinarily intelligent, and they equate their intelligence with their morality. They are thoughtful, and they are wonderful. We are wrong. We attach these labels to them, and they are “truly” so much more.
When he eventually swerves into the whole reason we came to see him in the first place, I’m gone. I’m beyond listening. He thinks he’s warmed me up with his ‘look at me’ chatter, that he considers good bedside manner, but in reality I’ve begun to feel so sorry for him, and his pointless attempts to sound interesting, hip, funny, likable, intelligent, esoteric, philosophical, and personable, were so overwhelming that I shut down and missed the first two minutes of his sales presentation when he finally started it.
“We guys don’t seek medical attention.” He smiled after that one. He thought that was polite guy, fun chatter. He surveyed my reaction. He told me he enjoyed sports, and then he asked me if the San Diego Chargers were still in existence. I normally would’ve enjoyed such ignorance of my arena, but I realized that I didn’t care if he knew anything about the Chargers, the NFL, sports in general, or anything else. This was a huge accomplishment for this guy, whether he knows it or not, for as anyone who knows me knows, I get off on personal preferences. I want to know what books a person reads, what movies they like, what music they enjoy, and what restaurants they frequent. I love top ten lists, the reasons behind why another’s rankings. Some have informed me that this is one of my more annoying attributes. This esoteric ad exec didn’t have to face any of my more annoying attributes, because he managed to achieve a nearly unprecedented place of me trying to avoid the subject of personal preferences. I just wanted him to stop talking.
The quiet types have something to hide, is a description we’ve all come to accept in one form or another. It could be true, in some cases, but I’ve experienced a number of quiet types who simply don’t know what to say or when to say it. I’ve met other quiet types who have been slapped back for saying what they think so often that when they have a thought on a particular matter, they’re frozen by the fear that you’ll uncover something about them if they voice their opinion, so they usually find it more comfortable to say nothing. When a person talks and talks, we naturally assume they are as advertised. We assume that they’re the “open book” they’ve told us they are so many times that they can only be trying to convince themselves. They are extroverts who are conversant on so many topics that we can’t think of anything that they could possibly be hiding, until we walk away from them with the realization that they didn’t say anything. They just said a whole lot of nothing on nothing topics. We might label that obfuscation and misdirection. We might consider that an art form normally associated with magicians, but talkers can display a talent for this art form too. They just don’t use their hands … as often.