Monday, November 14, 2011

Inflated Heads

For the life of me I cannot remember the title of the movie I was watching last night, but it was about this young girl who was an aspiring writer during the great depression. She lived with her family in an urban part of Canada, until she started coming down with a terrible cough, which led the family to believe it was tuberculosis. They sent her off to live with her aunt up in a rural part of the area to get some fresh air. Her aunt lived alone, lived off the land and relied on nobody. She was strong, strict, hardworking and brave. The girl eventually got better due to her aunt’s care, but while she was there, she revealed that she has always wanted to be a writer. The aunt encouraged her and said, “Tell your story. Every story has a beginning, a middle and an ending.” So when the girl got better, she wrote a story about “The bravest man I’ve ever known was a woman” (her aunt) and wrote about how fearless her aunt was to live alone, get her own food and to live out her dream. She won first prize in the local newspaper and became somewhat famous. Even though her father was disappointed that the “bravest man” wasn’t him but his own sister, he eventually came to realize that his sister was amazing and it wasn’t all about him. Eventually, the fame got to the girl’s head and she started ending friendships and belittling her family, talking pretentiously and acting as though she was better than everyone else. Long story short: she eventually humbled herself after realizing what a huge head she had gotten from all the publicity. (If anyone knows which movie I’m speaking about, let me know?)

That story rings true on so many levels. Have you ever had a friend who ‘made it big’ or became more than they were accustomed to, which altered their personality altogether? Celebrity or not, a person can change with a quick boost to their ego. It’s amazing how some people can humble themselves whenever they’re at their lowest, but once at their height of fame, they forget everyone who was there for them in the beginning. Sadly, I’ve known a few people in my life who changed with a glimmer of stardom. Of course busyness comes into play and you have to take that into account, but it’s more of the ‘pushing you away’ type of people because they’re too busy with their other celebrity friends that gets to me. Phone calls, emails, texts are never returned and eventually, you become an ‘ex-friend’, or an ‘old friend’ once the new and improved people move into their world. The sad part about this is, if their new stardom starts to crumble down to the bottom of the ladder, you’re automatically back in. “Hey, how’ve you been? Sorry I’ve been so busy.”

It’s also like that in your typical office type of setting: someone gets a promotion, perhaps a managerial position and all egos break loose. They feel as though they have been set upon a throne to which they can now order their little pions around, aka: their old buddies and coworkers who were all on the same level at one time. I’m not going to ask, what makes someone feel superior over another once promoted or on the brink of stardom, but what makes me wonder is: do they miss the people they’re stepping on? Years ago, I remember this woman who had just gotten hired at our company. I had to train her and at times, do her work for her just so she wouldn’t get in trouble because she didn’t hand it in on time. I helped her, sat with her and totally gave her my undivided attention so she would learn fast and do well. I always invited her out to lunch with my other friends and always asked what she wanted if we were ordering in. She was never made to feel left out of the group. I made a point to make her feel comfortable. And she was. Five months down the road, I was trying to apply for a management position that I wanted and learned that the woman that I had trained was also going for the same job. This puzzled me because I was there for years, while she was there for only five months. On top of that, you have to wait one year to get a promotion or move to another position, so I knew that without a doubt, I’d get it before her. ...I didn’t. She got the job due to her twenty year managerial experience in other companies that had no relation to our own. I was so upset over this, but happy to know that for some reason, the manager’s position was at a lesser salary. Kind of a little proverbial kickback for me.

As the lady went on to be manager, guess who she came to whenever she had a problem? Me. Instead of holding a grudge against her, I would help her still. But then, I realized more and more, she stopped eating lunch with us and started hanging out at the managers’ table. No more fun and laughter during coffee breaks because now we were getting reprimanded for doing so, even though she used to be part of it. She felt she had to hold up her ‘manager’s stance’ so that she wouldn’t be seen as the ‘hourly folks’. I watched her turn into a monster as she berated everyone for the tiniest of mistakes or mishaps. She morphed herself into a tyrant overnight. My years of experience led her to continue trying to get more answers from me, more help from me as my respect for her was next to none by the way she treated us. The last time she asked me for help, I said, “You might want come down off your throne so you can see me better before you ask me for help again. The way you treat people is disgusting and I want no part of it.” I was expecting her to grab a union manager and trot us all down to some empty conference room...but she didn’t. She took me aside and apologized. She said she was scared the other managers wouldn’t take her seriously and she felt horrible about it. She also said she missed hanging out with her ‘old buddies’ and she didn’t know what to do. After that day, I noticed her entire demeanor was different. She was back. She was human again. She humbled herself.

Andy Rooney (RIP) had once said he hated when people went up to him asking for autographs - not because he was being rude, but he said, “I get paid to write! I’m not signing anything! Please!” He said it because he was humble and felt that writing his name on a piece of paper seemed arrogant and self-serving. I love that man for that reason alone. I wish more people (celebrity or not) were like that.

“The truest characters of ignorance are vanity, and pride and arrogance.” ~Samuel Butler

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: www.debrapasquella.com