Friday, January 13, 2012

A Light Touch

the Westin Hotel in Pasadena

Sometimes another person can rub off on you. Spend half an hour with the guy who's always freaked out and you come away needing a cigarette, whether you smoke or not. By contrast, a brief exchange with a store clerk who's got a sense of humor can loosen the clench of your jaw and keep you smiling for the rest of the day.

I don't know about you but I never think of myself as that person--the one who's rubbing something of my own off onto other people. How dare I rub people, how rude! Especially strangers, especially the wrong way.

But I am that person. We all are, every time we come within rubbing distance of each other.

It's something to keep in mind, this unconscious rubbing we do. (I suppose if we keep it in mind it's conscious then, isn't it?) Perhaps a nice pat-pat now and then instead, eh?

18 comments:

Susan Campisi said...

I hope the rubbing effect I have is more that of the funny store clerk than the freaked-out guy, but I guess it depends on the day. Funny post, P!

Speedway said...

Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub ... well, sometime-y I do, sometime-y I don't.
At times I'm as subtle as a steam roller, others people have no idea I even cared, I need a lighter touch in both areas.

Irina said...

When I feel that person emotionally trying to abuse me, I switch on "theater mood", trying to look at us both from the side. It helps not to answer.
And as you are not that rubbing person, it is double pleasure to rub you, to get some of your calm and harmony, exchange it to his rubbing stuff.
What a symmetry here! Perfect world?))

mise said...

Well noted, Petrea - the small interactions can colour the day so much. As Irina says, being aware of it helps to negate the effect if it's negative.

Today I'll wave at everyone I drive past.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Great shot!. BTW I know exactly what u mean... Those types of folk remind me of the character Pigpen... their attitude reminds me of the swirl that's surrounding Pigpen...funny how once they leave, their mess goes with them to invade someone else..lol

Shell Sherree said...

I'd like to imagine I don't send people off in search of cigarettes!!! But I'm sure I must have from time to time. Please excuse me while I rub my stomach and pat my head at the same time.

BaysideLife said...

I've been guilty on occasion of giving store clerks what my family calls "the look." Sometimes, in the face of incompetence, I loose my usual sense of humor. I'm working on it.

Katie said...

Lovely photo. And good food for thought re rubbing. I tend to be blunt, which wasn't an issue when I briefly lived in New York, but often is taken the wrong way here in CA. So I have to remember to do the "nice pat-pat" or channel my inner Minnesotan if needed.

Petrea Burchard said...

Sometimes a dirty look is required, I think, or bluntness.

I'm thinking of the Trader Joe's employee who handed out cheese samples while joking with the customers--she made it like a five minute party, it was just so much fun talking to her.

And there are some people who are just so...unconscious, I guess, of who they are and what they're giving off--anxiety, anger, neediness--it's like Kalei said about Pigpen, almost like fumes. I was thinking about this yesterday and realized we probably all do it from time to time.

Denise said...

Speaking as a store clerk, I quite intentionally try to "rub off" on people. It is my personal mission to make people feel better while they are in my presence. I find a smile and greeting, while looking them in the eye, is a great beginning, then I take my cues from their reaction. It makes work so much more fun.

Maria said...

i love to rub off on people - i stalk the cranky ones ;-) you my friend rub off on me and i am soooo happy about that. everytime i read your blog it makes me want to make mine better.

TheChieftess said...

One of the positive consequences of having worked with "crazy, wanna-be gang kids on drugs" in a psych residential facility is that I developed the habit of noticing people and making positive, happy comments whenever possible...HOWEVER...if I'm cranky or you're incompetent...or rather I think you're incompetent...look out!!! I can be the b@*%$# of the century!!!

Kalei's Best Friend said...

@Petrea: I remember on one site where someone started talking politics.. omg, one thing lead to another and would u believe the fighting over a simple discussion? I left the discussion because folks lost all reality and logic... unbelievable how folks can let someone get under their skin w/their views... arguments over views from folks who have never met each other nor know a damn thing about what they're talking about.

Petrea Burchard said...

Rubbing off with intent. I'm liking that, Denise.

Wow, Maria, you just rubbed off on me very well. Thank you.

I will stay out of your way on my bad days, Chieftess. And you make a good point about letting people know when they're doing well. It's positive reinforcement.

Kalei, I used to talk a bit of politics here but no more (unless we're talking about Hahmongna, I reserve that as my one issue to be vocal about). I have my opinions and they're not exactly a secret, but I let others have at it.

Margaret said...

Very philosophical. I agree. We are more permeable than we know.

Petrea Burchard said...

That's a really good way to put it, Margaret.

Bellis said...

Your photo is terrific!

I try to be nice to people, but much depends on my mood, whether I slept enough, how hassled I feel, etc. I don't know how people in service jobs can stay cheerful all the time, but the latest research suggests it takes a big toll on their well-being.

Petrea Burchard said...

You make me think, Bellis (thank you!)--some people are just good people, so even in their worst mood they don't rub off too badly. There's a vice versa to that, the folks that are jerks no matter what. Maybe some people can't regulate their rubbing. I think most of it's unconscious.

I've waited tables, worked retail, worked in front offices. It can all be horrible or lovely, depending on who comes in and what they demand/expect. You hope to learn how to let it all roll off, I guess.