A friend recently ranted on Facebook about someone who had no use for her until he found out she could help him. I understand her anger–I remember well my own first such experience.
I was a fresh college grad, and the head of our small internal audit department cubicled right next to me. Day after day, he ignored me without so much as a hello, until my first promotion. Suddenly, he was super chatty…the difference was stark. I was appalled. I was ok with him when I thought he was just socially awkward. I suddenly was not when I realized he was only a status-conscious jerk. Ever since, I have had the least use of all for those who believe in two classes of citizens: those who they believe can help them, and those who can’t.
I can tolerate obnoxious jerks, as long as they’re equally obnoxious to all of us. I’ve even become near-friends with some of them, as I got to know them and discovered they have value to add. I can also handle neurotic, flawed people who struggle to maintain healthy relationships with others due to their issues–I don’t mind going more than halfway. But I can’t stand someone if they’re only being nice to me because they think I can do something for them. I can’t trust them…they’ve made it clear the only person who will ever matter to them is themselves.
I believe in the value of every human being, even the jerks. But I’ll also admit to the irony in struggling to find value in those who don’t feel the same way. Heaven knows, this world doesn’t need more second class citizens.
“Play fair. Don’t hit people. Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.” –Robert Fulghum, Everything I Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten