I was thinking about ‘celebrity’ the other day… mostly because I saw one walking down the street.
Of course, I studiously ignored the celebrity because I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that I knew who he was… if you see what I mean.
I needn’t have worried because, for some reason, he ignored me, too. I mean, he was probably too busy dealing with all the girls who were following him down the road, asking for his autograph.
Have they no self-respect?
This avoidance of celebrity goes back some way for me, to when I was working on the front desk at a bank.
One day, a couple of well known footballers who banked with us swaggered in with a couple dolly birds in tow. One of the footballers swaggered over to the desk and probably sat down in a swaggering sort of way on one of the chairs in front of me.
Now, I knew who this guy was, but there was no way I was going to let on.
‘Can you tell me if my wages are in?’ he asked me.
‘Who do you work for?’
A look of shock swaggered across my interlocutors face. ‘XXXX football club,’ says he, looking at me as though he was about to scrape me off the sole of his shoe.
I gasped appreciatively. ‘Wow, do you work there? Do you know any of the players?’
I had the satisfaction of watching his swaggering mate killing himself with laughter in the background.
All that happened twenty odd years ago and I still know the feller a little bit. In fact, he’s one of the nicest, must unassuming men you could want to meet. He’s heavily involved in youth soccer, has raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity and is generous to a fault with his time.
It was my prejudice that fuelled an assumption that this guy must be a swaggering, arrogant footballer who needed to be taken down a peg or two. Why I just couldn’t acknowledge him in a way that, at least, represented good quality service I will never know. It’s just stupid.
And I wonder how many other people I’ve made assumptions about without getting to know them first. Of course, it’s hard not to sometimes, but it’s worthwhile trying very hard… if only from the point of view of getting the very most out of them in terms of performance.
Oh, and by the way. I didn’t have the last laugh. His wages were in. His team had won all five games they played that month, he’d scored four goals (three of which came as a hat-trick in one of the games) and they were at the top of the league. His week’s salary was something in excess of £50,000. This was 1987.