Saturday, November 03, 2007

11/3/07 The Benefit of the Doubt

I like to think of myself as a benefit-of-the-doubter. That, when I first meet someone, I give that person the benefit of the doubt. I even give a 2nd or 3rd benefit. It takes a good 10 or 11 doubts to really diminish the benefit you were initially receiving. I mention this because I have to tell a story about a guy. The guy has no name. And not because I don't remember. It's because I never spoke a word to him. I was just watching and silently judging a complete stranger.

A few days ago I was enjoying a Peet's coffee outside of the coffee shop. (I mention Peet's only because it's probably the greatest coffee on earth and in some areas it's very hard to come by. Basically, I'm just bragging here). As I was reading at Peet's, minding my own business, a guy sat down at the table in front of me. The only way I can describe him is that he looked like the friend in Billy Madison that wasn't Norm MacDonald. (And, if you're paying attention, about 15 months ago I promised never, ever to mention Norm MacDonald again. I guess I lied). So, in a nutshell, the guy's not a real looker, not a good dresser, wearing socks, sandals, khaki shorts and an orange polo shirt.

This is where the benefit of the doubt comes in. I think to myself - I bet he's a good, decent guy. I'm sure that everyone else is judging him negatively based on his appearance. But noooo... not me... I'm giving him the benefit of the doubt. In fact, maybe he's one of those really smart, kind hearted, professor type guys. You know, the kind of guy that you'd enjoy talking to over the aforementioned coffee. Or perhaps he's one of those brilliant artists or musicians that can be fascinating. Now I'm just curious about this guy's interesting life that I've invented in my head.

The dude gets a phone call. His ringtone? You feel like guessing? This is me we're talking about here... There's only one reason I would tell this story... The ringtone was Nickelback. So much for the brilliant artist idea. His teenage son shows up (and turns out to be the person who called). At this point, I'm really trying to get back and concentrate on my reading. Not that I ever wanted to take any interest in this guy in the first place, but, you know, things happen in public.

He gets another phone call. This time I listen to figure out which Nickelback song he has, since it takes an acute sense of musical talent to tell them apart. But wait, this ringtone isn't Nickelback. It was some cheesy Michael Bolton song. (I swear to you, I can't make this stuff up). And it was his wife. Since I'm still a benefit of the doubter, I began feeling bad for this guy. Like maybe his life took a wrong turn somewhere... oh maybe by knocking up this woman on the other end of the line about 14 years earlier. So either this guy has just awful music sense... OR... This may be worse... He might be so whipped, that he puts ringtones specifically for his wife and son, neither of whom have any music sense either.

At this point, I really pry myself back into my reading. I feel bad that I've taken such an interest in a complete stranger. And I feel even worse that I'm silently judging him for no apparent reason. (Yet, notice I don't feel bad at all sharing the story with the world. Funny how that works.) Within the next 10 minutes, I notice the guy and the son are gone. Around the same time, I hear an ungodly amount of excessive noise coming from the parking lot. It's the sound of a high revving engine in a quaint, strip mall parking lot. I turn around to see why anyone would make that much noise. At this point, you've probably guessed it - It's the guy. He's driving a black Camaro and simply reversing his car out of the parking spot. When all was said and done, I concluded that the guy was just an absolute douchebag.

Moral of the story? Quit people watching and mind your own business.


Are you passive aggressive? Do you know someone who is? You'll enjoy this - Passive Aggressive Notes.


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