He Who Does Not Seek Friends In Good Times, Should Not Ask For Them In Bad Ones

This week someone posted the following popular saying on my Facebook page: you can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.  I can’t really attest for the popularity of this statement, but as far as I know it’s attributed to one Dale Carnagie.

Nevertheless, it was wonderfully appealing and helped me cure my minor case of Writer’s block.

Quien no busca amigos en la alegria, en la desgracia no los pida was the first dicho that came to mind.  In a nutshell, the loose interpretation would be: he who does not seek friends in good times, should not ask for them in bad ones.  Not only because most people won’t give you the time of day if you’ve turned your back on them in the past, but because you reap what you sow.  How can you expect me to help you out in your time of need, when you laughed at me in my times of despair?

Worst still, when you never even acknowledged my existence.

I know a lot of people like that.  For one reason or another something inside their brain was set off, which led them to believe that they are far better than everyone else.  You cannot interact with them unless they address you first.  They never come out and verbally state their superiority over you and the rest of the world – for the most part anyway – but there is always an undertone or body language that makes you well aware of your place in their world.  No I don’t mean the rich and famous only.

As a teenager working at Wal-Mart I was stocky and awkward.  My younger brother and I had taken to exploring new, cool hair styles in those years to make up for the embarrassment we felt over our weights.  I was wearing double X shirts and bigger pants than my dad, so wearing the latest styles was out of the question.  We even had names for the clothes that everyone else wore that we couldn’t.  There were the breast shirts, which basically meant that the material used to make them was so thin it made our man boobs protrude.  Another popular fashion no-no for us was the skinny jean, which we thought made us look like trompos (spinning tops).

They weren’t really skinny jeans, they were the basic fit jeans that were tight at the bottom and fitted at the top.   

First we grew our hair just past our ears in what can only be embarrassingly described as bangs today.  I had my sister pierce my ear to go with the bad boy look I was aiming for.  Although I don’t think the Selena shirt I wore all the time helped my image.  Anyway, we then took to dying our hair with peroxide.  Eventually we moved into more traditional over the counter hair dyes, but for the moment the red tint burned into our follicles by the mixture of sun and peroxide did the trick.  The last and final step in our rebellious self makeovers was the shaving of all our hair except for two thin strands of hair at the front of our scalp.    We’d walk around thinking we were the shit!

That is until someone knocked me down a couple of pegs.  My boss at Wal-Mart was an older white man in his late sixties who didn’t much care for my manner of dress or appearance.  Although looking back I can’t say that I blame him.  When I showed up to work, he’d always pull me away from my department (hardware) and send me to the back of the store to sort through trash, organizing it for the dumpsters to pick up.  I never understood why the trash needed to be organized if all the dump trucks did was pick it up and mix it all together again, but I never asked questions.

Once when my frustration caught the better of me and slipped out in the form a complaint I was scolded so bad in the back of that store that I swore never to raise my voice in my own defense again – at least not to him.

I was so scared of him that I would let my customers talk to me however, so long as they didn’t submit a complaint to him.  Months went by and our work relationship remained stagnant in this state of hostile dictatorship.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, I wasn’t the only employee of that Wal-Mart to get harassed.  The rest of my coworkers were just as scared to disagree with his mandates.  On New Year’s Eve, we were all locked in until 11:45 p.m.  They only let us out because the older African American ladies in the group began to revolt screaming someone better open them damn doors. On my way home I heard the New Year being rang in over the radio.

Still my worst New Year’s to date.

Yet, as fate would have it, a few months later our boss was laid off unexpectedly.  We didn’t even realize he was gone until he showed up one day asking everyone to sign a petition to reinstate his job.  He claimed to be fired unjustly and wanted us to stand behind him.  I caught wind of what he was asking for early on and hid in the back of the store until he left.  While back there the idea of signing the petition did cross my mind, I’ll admit, but then I remembered how he’d laughed at me just a few weeks earlier when I called in to tell him my car was broken down.

Boisterous cackles he had unleashed on me over the phone before ordering me back to work no matter what I had to do to get there.  I’m not proud of it, but at that moment I reveled.  Reveled over the fact that now we had the upper hand.  That he had been reduced to asking for our measly help.  And I cackled at his predicament.  Years later, when it was me on the other side I realized the humiliation he must have felt in that moment, and that’s when I actually felt bad about laughing.

I think this message is especially important in this day and age when we are so concerned about how many social media followers we have, or how many people are reading our blogs, or commenting about the virtual statements we make.  That we not forget, while it is notoriety many of us are seeking, we should never consider ourselves larger or more important than our audience.