How you been?
I’ll be honest. You both not making it back for meals on weekends? It’s a phenomenon that’s happening more often these days than your mom and I care for.
Sighhh…this dad is hardly seeing his sons anymore. And to think it seemed like only yesterday I was still trying to get you guys outta the house and downstairs to the playground. So you can give your old man some peace and quiet!
What I wouldn’t give now for some noise!
So much for the empty nest syndrome. I guess your mom and I knew this day would come; we just didn’t think it’ll come this soon.
O well…c’est la vie.
Anyway, as promised, this will be my sixth instalment of my “Toxic 12” series. Intoxicated yet?! (Sorry but I’m feeling a bit corny today *chuckle*)
A good time to do a milestone check.
Remember: my only intent in sharing this series with you boys is because I love you, and I want you to avoid the pitfalls that I fell headlong into in the past. All because I had no father figure nor good male role models to learn the hard truths of life from.
So I’ve had the displeasure of encountering every single one of these toxic folks without the ‘ammo’ to deal with them. So my advice for you as you enter the workforce is hard-won, and I offer them to you here with all my heart.
Get Ready to Roll Your Eyes!
Today, I’m going to talk about a group of folks you can literally roll your eyes right in front of, and they wouldn’t even notice!
You wanna know why?
Cos they’re too busy tooting their horn, blowing their trumpet, strutting their stuff (choose your metaphor), that they don’t really care if you’re listening or paying attention to them or not.
You might even be able to slink silently outta the room, and these folks will just keep on talking!
Who are they? They’re my sixth category of toxic people – the “Name-droppers”. Also known as the conversation-snatchers, the snobs or the social climbers.
From the moment they meet you, these folks will pretty much dominate the conversation in the room. I often wish we could make them wear buttons declaring who they are, so I can make a beeline for the buffet table the minute they appear.
Or high-tail outta there!
“I Know So and So and…”
Picture it. The first intro meeting. You know, the kind where people seated around a table take turns to introduce themselves?
When it came to A’s turn (let’s just call him A – and yes unfortunately, these name-droppers are usually “hims”), none of us had any idea that the five or so minutes we were each given didn’t apply to him!
What was 5 became like a good 15 minutes as he started to list down his achievements, the names of all the big-shots he’s rubbed shoulders and elbows and all manner of body parts with, and how well-heeled and connected he was. He even managed to pack in tons of descriptions about one high-profile encounter and another high-society meeting.
Mr A was in his A-game that evening for sure.
Right there and then if I had a mace, I would have used it. If not on him, then certainly on me! Instead, like the rest of the decent folks at that meeting, I sat stoically on and listened to the drone, all the while praying for rapture to come, or maybe an earthquake.
I mean, it would have been fine if all he did was talk about the challenges he faced looking after his special needs boy. That’s part of the reason why, that fateful evening, this motley crew of dads came together. To talk about our struggles as dads of special needs kids (Yes Caleb, dad’s taken more than a bullet for you!)
But instead, what we got that night was an earful of the “who’s who” speech.
“Oh that’s nice…now back to me…”
The above true story is sadly one that plays itself out very often in life. The scenarios are nearly always the same. These snobbish folks will pretty much seize every opportunity they can get to wrestle control of any casual conversation.
As long as there’s one warm body in the room, they’re all warmed-up to what must surely be their conviction. That it’s a divine appointment for us to be in their mighty presence, so everyone better “listen up, and listen good”!
Don’t even try to get a word in edge-wise. You will fail miserably. They may appear to listen to you, with an itsy-bitsy smile and a few nods of the head. But the reality is that they are already rehearsing their next magnum opus in their minds while you try to engage them.
The minute you pause, they will pounce back into the game and leave you in their dust.
And most of the time, you wouldn’t even know what hit you! Like the queue-cutters I met at crowded train ticket stations in Vietnam back when I was living there in 2003 to 2005. They were deft, dexterous and determined I gotta tell ya!
And so are these name-droppers.
Run for the canapés!
The good news is these folks are mostly found at events where food’s served. So the best thing to do is make a run for the delectable spreads and let someone else be their audience.
But if you’re unfortunate enough to end up having such people in your workplace, then the best thing to do is stick to the job at hand and grow a thick enough skin to let these people know firmly that you’ve got stuff to do and really have no time to listen.
And then, because they rarely take no for an answer, just ignore them.
Their boasting really stems from deep-seated insecurity and a lack of self-awareness and self-identity. These are issues that are way too big and entrenched for us bystanders to render any short-term help and intervention to. Nor are most of these folks even aware they need help.
And let’s face it: it really isn’t our place to help, unless they give you signs that they need it. So the best thing to do is to steer clear, don’t play the martyr, and get on with your own lives.
Ignored. Thank God!
What’s that? You’re asking me whatever happened to that Mr A?
Well, let’s just say I had my assessment of him vindicated when a couple of weeks later we both attended a mass Q&A session with three members of parliament. Despite seeing me there, he ignored me completely and made a beeline for the politicians.
Boy was I ever relieved!
Enough said. Except that in my next email, I’ll be talking about the seventh category of toxic people, and potentially one of the worst: The Haters/Gossipers/Flaw-pointers!
Ok, gotta go.
You boys simply MUST come back for dinner this Sunday, you hear? We’ll even prepare some canapés for you!
Cos your mom and I miss you THAT much.
Come home soon.