Thursday, August 5, 2010


I had an experience today that made me feel like I was from another planet. I met a guy on the job a few days back, who seemed alright to me—as long as he kept his mouth shut. The owner of a house I was painting had hired this carpenter to redo some trim work, and despite his friendly, professional demeanor in front of the owner, beneath the surface lay a vulgar child.

Normally, I like to think while I work—about a story I'm writing, topics for this blog, or politics and philosophy in general. It passes the time wonderfully and give me a chance to clarify my thinking by filing away things I've recently learned. If I'm not able to concentrate due to fatigue or whatever, I try to listen to something productive or artful—informative talks by great minds, audio versions of the classics, or artistic music. None of this is the normal fare for broadcast radio.

Worse than the faults of television are the faults of radio, in my opinion. Not only does most of the music make it impossible to think (that's the point), but you're hammered with ads that reveal the markers' understanding of their audience. Namely, that the audience is made up of people with the emotional intelligence of a preschooler.

Mostly, I'm inclined to give skilled tradesman—who make up the bulk of the daytime audience—the benefit of the doubt, if for no other reason than that I currently make my living as one. However, in this case, I think they hit the nail on the head.

He started playing some rap/techno station, which would have been interesting if it hadn't been a top hits type station. Artistic music deals with a variety of lyrical themes, expressing a wide range of emotions. XM and Sirius are subscription based, and tend to play a more offbeat variety. Top hits mostly center on love (or just sex) as a theme, and anger or sadness as the emotions. ("I want to @#$% you like an animal.")

After admitting to me that "this is the first day in a long time, I've come to work sober," he started prompting me about my musical tastes. This led him to drop "typical male" comments about women and things that can be done to them. I began to dislike the guy.

At some point, I mention that I'm married. He expounded upon his philosophy of marriage—basically, that women should be seen and not heard, and that the only reason I'm still married is because I haven't realized I don't like her yet. At that point, I decided he was positively wasting my time, and was glad when he left and didn't come back that day.

Today, he compounded what I already regarded as unlikable about him. My only solace was that he was talking to my dad and not directly to me. My dad, however—being a devout Christian and active member of his church— was about as polar-opposite to the guy as could be. The guy opened the conversation by saying, "I was screwing this chick..." and ended by saying "...and she was married."

Upon learning of my dad's religious disposition (and hearing, I believe for him, I much needed retelling of the Christian story), he responded as any man of the world would—like a 4 year-old. In a sort of conversational ninjitsu that would prompt Freud to write another book, he changed the subject to the criticism of another tradesman whose crew was on the same job.

He seemed to search his mind for the most vulgar expressions of "rip-off" he could find. He said the owner (a woman) was going to get "f---ed" by this guy's unfair business tactics. He added, "ass f---ed, and face f---ed!" to the list. If it wasn't sad, I'd have begun to hate him.

But really, it is sad. This reaction was an obvious attempt to display that my dad's "preaching"—as he no doubt felt it was—had no effect on him whatsoever. He believes that he is some sort of free-thinking individual, but he is sadly mistaken. He is playing the role of a child in a man's body—stunted in his emotional growth by the worldly influences he desires to be steeped in, and perpetually easy game for beer ads, casino ads, sex-related ads, and eventually pharmaceutical drug ads (for the things he'll catch).

This vulgar emotional outburst has more negative impact on him than anyone else. The point of faith is to find peace, but he is not at peace. The more he tries to prove he cannot be converted to "perfection" (which is never the point, or your religion is wrong), the more he shuts doors to relationships that could help him. I have myself, decided I would never hire him as he is.

Imagine your life is like a Facebook profile or a Twitter feed. If all you do is spread vulgarity and complaints—though you have every right to do so—you will only succeed in driving away friends/followers who don't share your views. If my dad alienates this guy by sharing the gospel, so much the better for my dad—he probably wouldn't benefit from the guy's company anyway. But if this guy alienates people like myself or my dad, he loses business referrals and other relational connections that would improve his life.

That's just not worth the risk.
FEATURED MEDIA: How to Win Friends and Influence People - The classic guide to repairing and developing relationships of all kinds.

No comments:

Post a Comment