I realised, while searching for new music and failing because “all this new stuff sounds like crap”, that I am getting old. Not just 2-day hangover and ‘what did I do to my back old’, but also mentally old. I am becoming (more) stubborn and inflexible, more set in my ways. Soon, it will be very difficult to teach this bitch any new tricks.
I also notice that my friends are starting to go the same way. Our way is the ‘right’ way, everyone who disagrees with us is obviously ‘an idiot’ and anyone more than 5 years our junior is described as being ‘about 12 years old’. We’re crotchety, crabby and cantankerous. Many of us are just holding on now, waiting for to our television-inspired dream to materialise- the one where we get to sit on the porch all day, cradling loaded shotgun, warning some damn kids to get off our lawn.
But until then, we need to navigate through modern day living, along with a bunch of other assholes in people suits, trying to earn a living and not to get punched in the mouth. Not easy.
The way we do this is by trying to keep our inner dickhead silent for as long as possible, through common courtesy and through a practice I’m calling (unless it’s been trademarked somewhere) ‘Good manners for grown ups’. Here are a few:
1. Be on time
One of my pet hates is tardiness…and littering…and people who say ‘ciao’ even though they’re not Italian. You don’t need me to tell you why keeping others waiting is rude, but even better is to call ahead and warn them if you know you’re running late.
2. Say ‘Thank You’
It amazes me how little this seems to happen in most work environments. Yes, everyone is just doing their jobs, but it takes nothing from your day to thank someone for their help or their work. When people feel appreciated, they live up to that feeling. If someone really goes the extra mile, thank them by name in front of other people (especially their superiors). It’s a tiny gesture, it costs you nothing and it will probably make their day.
3. Always be nice
When people don’t immediately respond to an email or a message, or they say something that could be taken offensively, it seems to be a gut reaction to jump to the conclusion of: “Oh, shit, he hates me now. Well fuck him anyway. I hate him too.” It’s much harder for us to accept that we don’t have a leading role in anyone else’s life but our own. You’d think that by now we’d know that despondence, ennui, sarcasm and boredom don’t translate well across email and learn not to take this shit so personally….When in doubt, be nice. And if you’ve never been nice your whole life, then just try your best to be sweet.
4. Watch your language
I say ‘fuck’ a lot. It’s part of my mysterious feminine charm.
But I do try to curtail the curse words around people who I know don’t enjoy them, and I try to ‘read the room’ before telling any necrophilia jokes. That said, I stand by the philosophy that swear words are just words and you can be just as offensive and hurtful without using them. Just ask the super ‘conservative’ clients I’ve met (and no longer work with). Those who would openly wince at my using the word ‘bitching’, but have no qualms about going off on a racist tirade in the middle of a strategy session.
I just think that’s fucking rude.
Share your space, share your knowledge, share what’s happening in your life- when you open your hands to give, you also get a lot back. One thing I’ve realised about trying to run my own freelancing business while Adam’s been recovering, is that as soon as you tell people what’s going on and why you can’t make meeting X or deadline Y, they’re pretty understanding. Good relationships are built on openness, honesty and mutual generosity. I was going to add ‘and good coffee’ in there too, but anyone who knows me knows I don’t share my coffee.
I said hands off the espresso, punk.