I sat down in Starbucks with a pile of receipts and my laptop. Yay! Expense account day! Anyway, an older man in a grey suit grabbed a seat next to me.
He was one of those people who “self-narrated” his actions.
You know these types. When they’re in public places – usually lines or crowded waiting spaces – they talk to themselves in a voice loud enough for surrounding company to hear; yet not actually directed at anyone in particular. (I don’t know why people do this.) The man said:
“Let me just plug this cord in here…and stretch it out…get my cup of coffee…got the Blackberry out…alright, let’s get to work.”
“WHO THE HELL IS THIS GUY TALKING TO?!” I thought.
He looked over at me and said, “Expense account time, huh Scott?”
“Yep. It’s the end of the month. Time to get the financials in order,” I replied.
“So what’s with the nametag?”
“Oh, I always wear it to make people friendlier.”
“Ha ha ha! Yeah, right! Sure ya do…,” he said rather condescendingly.
“Actually, I’m serious. Whaddaya think of this?” I asked as I opened up my jacket to show him back-up nametag # 2.
He looked over and didn’t say a word.
Hmmm…that usually gets a laugh. Or at least one of those “this-guy-is-out-of-his-mind-smiles.” Not sure if I like this guy’s attitude.
He went back to work, as did I. Eventually he asked, “So Scott, what do you do?”
“I’m an author and professional speaker.”
“Yeah, well what do you speak and write about?”
“Ooooh, approachability!” he joked with a sarcastic, jazz hands gesture, “Boy does THAT tell me a lot,” he laughed.
Alright buddy. Now you’re startin to piss me off. Time to lay it down.
I took a minute to explain what approachability meant and why wearing a nametag was a symbol of it. He seemed to be “getting it,” but his next smart ass response was, “But why would anyone want to come hear YOU speak if they didn’t want to be approached?”
OK Scott. Deep breath. Just relax. Let’s help this guy understand…
“First of all, I don’t do public seminars. Companies and associations hire me to speak to and train their staff. Secondly, approachability is a two way street. It’s not just about ‘being approached,” it’s also about ‘approaching’ others. Know what I’m sayin’?”
“OK. I gotcha.”
And that was pretty much the end of our conversation. He obviously had work to do, as did I. And he obviously didn’t care, nor did I feel like preaching to an atheist.
I finished tallying my receipts about an hour later. As I packed up, I grabbed one of my business cards. (Often times I have to give them to strangers not for networking purposes, but rather for “this-guy-isn’t-bullshitting-you” purposes.) Which kind of sucks, but, I suppose it comes with the territory.
“Well Bob, hope you have a good week. And here’s one of my cards, just so you know I’m not pullin’ your leg.”
He read my card and said, “That guy with the nametag…ha! OK Scott, see ya around.”
Yeah. See ya around.
LET ME ASK YA THIS…
How do you handle the haters?
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Author/Speaker/That guy with the nametag