The goal of my life is not to be “that guy.” No, the core values of my life, the very essence of my being, the light I’m trying to reach at the end of the tunnel—is not to be that guy. I hate those people. You know them. The ones going slow in the left lane; the ones showing up at a restaurant five minutes before it closes; the ones loudly talking on the phone in the middle of a quiet library; the ones remaining motionless as the stoplight turns green; the ones introducing themselves to you again upon the ninth time of meeting you; the ones talking about themselves for 30 minutes without asking you a single question; the ones one-upping every story you tell; the ones returning every steak they order because it’s not cooked perfectly; the ones gung ho about plans for days or weeks in advance and then canceling an hour before the event is supposed to go down…
I could keep going. I think you get the idea. I DO NOT want to be that person. So what’s the big deal you might ask. Then don’t be that person, right? True, I agree. But a problem enters, and I’m ashamed to admit this: I have at times been that person. But here’s the thing: I DIDN’T KNOW IT; I didn’t do it on purpose. That’s what irks me more than anything in my entire life. There is nothing worse in the world (and I mean this) than wholeheartedly placing every fiber of your being into the grandest achievement in life—not being “that person”—but then being that person. Let me share an experience that illustrates my point.
This story involves closing time at a popular coffee shop. Long story short, I was sitting in the shop on my laptop, sipping coffee and studying without a care in the world… after they were closed! Yep, that was me—that guy. You should have seen the look on my face when one of the employees interrupted the jam fest in my ear buds to notify me that they had been closed for 15 minutes. I was in shock! How could the arbiter, the forefather, the gospel writer of The Code of Not being That Guy, be that guy?! Here’s how. I’d been frequenting this coffee shop for some time. I knew the closing time was 11 pm. I had seen it on their door. But it had been a couple months since I had been. Apparently 11 pm was their summer closing time. It was now fall/winter. Their winter closing time is 10 pm. There you have it. I knew damn well exactly when they closed, but I had the wrong time. It was still hard to digest the reality that to those employees, that very night in that coffee shop, I was that guy. Perception is reality. To make matters worse, I had a difficult time convincing the rude closing time notification messenger that it was a mix-up. Whatever.
I will continue on the greatest quest a person can undertake: the avoidance of being that guy. A few unforeseen speed bumps will not deter me. I know you cannot miss something you’ve never had, but you should thank me now. Whenever you’re sitting at a red light, you will not have that guy in front of you; whenever you mess up my order, you’re serving not that guy; whenever you cut me off in traffic, you’ll be greeted by not that guy. Basically, whenever you’re around me, you’ll have the absence of that guy in your presence. You’re Welcome.