The other day, I stood in an elevator with someone I’d crafted a careful email to, and received–against my expectations–a careful and even considerate response from, but he didn’t recognize me (why would he?) and thought I was a customer. Our weather-related pleasantries were perfunctory–a little more jocular than was strictly necessary, on his part, because he thought I was a customer, someone on whose satisfaction his welfare indirectly depended–and I got off four floors before he did so there was neither time nor opportunity to connect my face to my email. As the doors whisked open, though, I tossed over my shoulder a sympathetic remark comparing this weather to that where I knew he came from, and I relished the perplexed look on his face as the doors closed and took him away. No, I’m not just some early-riser; I’m part of the same organization you are; I know things; you liked what I had to say. You’ve forgotten already but it’s true.
But then the other other day, listening to another person I strive to impress pick up the phone and melt instantly in response to a friend, a relative, I don’t know who; I realized with a little constriction that most people are always going to be saving the best of themselves for someone else. Not because they’re being stingy or mean, but because they only have so much self to go around, and you’re of middling importance to a whole lot more people than you matter to.
And that’s so mundane a realization that it barely warrants the term ‘realization.’
I suppose the course of action that ought to result from this is a circling of the wagons, a drawing closer of those few whom you know you receive the best of. Who save the best of themselves for you, among only a handful of others.
But that seems like a kind of defeat, to me. Even as I typed all this out I thought, this is bullshit. If you settled for this you’d never get anywhere or have anyone give two shits about what you believe or have to say or think you can fix. You’d just piddle away at your present low level of importance for decades, and then die there.
So I don’t know that I accept it. I am going to make that guy in the elevator remember me. Because he liked what I had to say, and he doesn’t get to forget that. No one does.