Jack (not his real name) was sitting in the corner sipping his beer, I said how are you Jack? His head snapped around like a triggered Jack in the Box. I saw him sitting there by himself, a familiar sight, tucked away in the corner, not him necessarily but across thousands of bars around the world you will see the solitary sitter, nursing their beer, hoping probably for someone to talk to. I saw him earlier this week, Jack was a keen golfer and I asked him how the golf was, I don’t play anymore he said, old age is a bugger was my reply, he said retirement, not enough money.
In his time Jack had a successful business, a high profile brand but in the end he lost it all, lost the brand and eventually sold his chattels and tools, no goodwill to sell, he had shouted that all away. Jack you see had an anger problem and he was a reluctant learner, employee grievances cost him plenty but he continued to be aggressive and abusive. One day he let it rip at his supplier and that was it for him, he just became somebody else competing for business with nothing to offer but a reputation for a bad temper and high staff turnover…
Jack appears to be a genial man, eager to spend a few minutes chatting, I have only once seen him in action, furious at having to pay out again to another employee he had abused and sacked without cause. As he wrote out a cheque his tirade continued. I don’t know if Jack remembers that day, I wasn’t the receiver of the settlement, I did negotiate it. The thing is people know.
I had an online debate with a guy who was angry, I thought who is this guy googled him and he has a history of violence. It was very soon in the debate when he made a veiled threat. I told him I had captured the threat and was going to give it to the Police, boom he was gone. In a small community like I live in there is no escape, if you have a temper it is not long before people know it, people stop inviting you, the golf club loses its appeal, the repercussions gradually build, those around you can suffer as well. Natural consequences you might say, well I guess that is possible, but small towns are horrid places, rumour and innuendo are rife and the opportunity to change peoples perception of yourself is very small, that is if you know what is being said.
The question for me is that does Jack know people think he is an arsehole, bad tempered and not nice to be around at times? Does he know that is why people are too busy? Does he know people talk about him, does he have any friends who can tell him….what they are hearing. I don’t have that kind of relationship with Jack and have no intention of developing it, I just don’t have the time or energy. What I do give him is the time of a day, a friendly greeting, a hand shake, a few words whenever I see him it is all I can do.
I do this because it is the right thing for me to do and I know what it is like to be singled out and talked about. I know what it is like to be the last one to know, and I know what it is like to be the subject of unfair innuendo, rumour, and false accusations. It is extremely unpleasant, it leaves one devastated and without words at times, it has been psychologically damaging and pretty hard to deal with. In Jacks case I do it because he seems to be a lost and lonely man and I don’t need to contribute to that.
The problem for people like Jack is complex, he continues in his everyday life, perhaps oblivious to what has happened, he is likely to blame others for his situation and at a certain level he may be quite happy, well I guess that is ok, but it in the end is a tragedy, Jack was an innovative and successful man who could still be providing employment and sharing his knowledge, he has limited his potential, whilst I am not one who subscribes to the if you think it you can do it brigade I do recognise that many of us don’t reach our potential, and the fruit we pick in our lives is often from the low hanging branches.
Shoot for the moon, even if you miss you will land among the stars,