Hmmm, that’s weird. My phone rings and the screen says UNDISCLOSED CALLER. I wonder if this is going to start with the sound of one of those cruise ship horns, “BWWWWAAHHHHH….” and then the sound of some coked-up, panting, wound up lady singing, “Congratulations, you just won a billion dollars and a free vacation with no strings attached.”
Nope, it wasn’t that.
I answer politely with my standard work greeting since I figured this would be a company call. A middle aged man answers as he stumbles over his words to form a complete sentence,
“Ya, I’m a city construction worker on the side of the highway and I’m calling the number that I saw on the back of your work truck. I wanted you to know that a bunch of your guys were driving by me and as they passed, they told me off.”
A quick diversion from the story to give you some background on my work crew. I love these jokers. They’re all solid, solid humans and I would have their back any day of the week. I also know that they’re all insanely high quality characters, they ooze kindness and they often laugh at each other’s expense. It’s how we all roll. For example, almost every time our Production Manager (Scott) enters a room with me or our New Horizon Productions (NHP) crew in it, there is some random-ass high stakes physically abusive greeting that takes place. Most of the time, these greetings involve him inflicting pain on himself whether it be jamming a pile of paper into his mouth, backing up in his rolling chair then planking on the ground, or spilling something while yelling some form of the word “Hello” in some random-ass language. The guy rules.
Back to the swearing police story…
So this construction worker guy goes on and on explaining how he gets yelled at everyday from drivers and he’s been called every kind of creative swear combination known to Urban Dictionary. But the yells coming from our company truck was different. He felt a responsibility to make sure work-dad knew what the work-kids were doing.
“I’m so sorry sir, this is VERY out of character for our crew and I honestly can’t even imagine any of our guys doing anything close to something like this. Do you know exactly what they said to you?”
“Ya, the guy leaned out the window and said, ‘GO FU*K YOURSELF’”.
I figured out that it was high-stakes-Scott and 2 other guys in the truck on their way to a gig so I called them up and asked if they had yelled anything at anyone. Turns out, Scott had leaned out the window, waved, and yelled “HI” at a construction crew.
Yep, that’s what happened.
Of course, Scott felt like a pile of fecal matter when he found out what happened and offered to call the guy back but the “damage” was done. This poor construction guy went home thinking that our company had instructed him to try and have intercourse with himself. Brutal. And there’s nothing we can do about it.
I hate how powerless this felt. I had forgotten to take the guy’s number so there was no way to make it right. And even if we DID have his number, what do you say? “Uh, ya, about us swearing at you…. ya, we didn’t, so…”
This poor guy was SO used to being told off that instead of actually LISTENING to what was being said, he heard what he ultimately WANTED to hear. Not that he really WANTED to be told off, but that was what he was so used to hearing that his brain just went into automatic mode. This is actually scientific. Not too long ago, my counsellor explained to me that there are neural pathways in your brain that essentially make “grooves” in your head. Luckily, with some training, these grooves can be rerouted so you don’t end up doing or “hearing” the same things.
This whole deal of perception is fascinating and frustrating to me. I hate that you have no control over what someone may think you did or said… especially when you tried to do something innocent or sweet or kind and it is taken as an insult. AAGGGHHHH. Reminds me of this classic sketch by Key & Peele “Text Message Confusion”.
So what do you do in this situation?
Try not to give a shit about what anyone (or at least certain people) think?
Try to defend yourself?
Try to be more careful to make sure nobody gets perspectivitus on your ass and ends up accusing you of being a devil-person?
What do you do?
This story and theme keeps coming up for me so I thought I’d share. If you have some input, I’d love to hear it. If you can’t relate and you feel like this was a waste of your time then I’d encourage you to GO FU…. never mind.