I learned decades ago that I was an acquired taste. The vast majority of the people that everyone “loved” didn’t end up fans of mine. On the contrary, I had people that didn’t like me at all. These people would work with me for years and then spend the first time speaking to me saying something abrupt (or like an asshole). Yes, it almost came to fisticuffs a few times. I learned a lot about myself after this. I learned that the adage that “you can’t win them all” was true. And it was especially true when it came to people.
I might have mentioned a former co-worker that went through a nasty divorce and eventually got remarried to someone I knew. The guy, which I will call “Hockeyman”, was a polite and manly man. He was quiet but funny when he wanted to be. Our fellow co-workers loved working with him. I always thought of him as a gentleman. Our fellow coworkers seem to have a great relationship with him, cracking jokes and being generally close. But the strange thing is that he always seemed a little cold towards me.
Hockeyman would always talk about not having friends. When we were in private, I mentioned that his house was two streets over from me. (A short walk). He seemed to try to duck the conversation. Another time I saw his marriage license application notice in the paper, I congratulated him. He didn’t have a clue on how I would know. I explained it. He walked away confused. His wife was cordial and friendly, we discussed the family and pleasantries. (The wife, Mrs Hockeyman, worked at my gym). I tried to talk to him again about trying to get the family together for a cookout, he mumbled and ducked me again. You can see a pattern. But he would always talk about not having people around.
He had invited our workcenter (verbally) to the wedding. A few people were able to make it. I wasn’t given an exact time (or a proper paper invitation) but I was told the place. When I went to congratulate him and put down a small gift, he seemed a little surprised to see me. (Mrs Hockeyman was always smiling and happy). I left after having a drink, (the irony is that Mrs Hockeyman told me to get the drink). (The Mrs happened to know that I struggled with people/public situations).
After another strange blow off situation at his house, (where I had made a delivery at), I decided that this more or less had run its course. (Mrs Hockeyman was kind as usual). I thought about this as of lately.
Hockeyman is a great person who went through a lot. He is a quiet person that internalized a lot of shitty things. I couldn’t win him over but I can try my best to be someone better in his life. He may not like me but I can always wish him well. I never like any of those “Ghandi-esque” quotes but I can be the change I want in the world. Like SETI, I can reach out and do my best to be there.
Hockeyman, I give a shit about you. I want you to be happy and I think you are an important part of our community.