Day 14: A day of compliments.Posted: January 14, 2011
“Flatter someone today and see if it does indeed get you anywhere.”
For reasons that are unimportant to this anecdote, I had to drive in to Dallas this morning, during rush hour. Now, I realize that Dallas’s rush hour is not that bad compared to the rush hours of other, larger sprawling metropolises – but I still hate it. I hate being stuck, unable to do anything but crawl along at a pace so lurching and slow that a drunken Bill Murray in a golf cart would make better time.
My normal responses to traffic, on those occasions I’m unfortunate enough to be stuck in it, include yelling, swearing, pounding on my steering wheel, &c. If I hadn’t consulted the Book before leaving the house this morning, today might have been another day like that. However, I had consulted the Book – and so, when a person of indefinite gender in a large vehicle cut me off this morning, to get out of one basically-stationary lane into another temporarily-not-quite-stationary lane, I stopped mid-expletive and decided to try a different approach.
I complimented the driver on his driving. And not sarcastically, either – or not entirely sarcastically, anyway. And – because I was behind him for what seemed like hours, because that’s how traffic works – I continued complimenting him: on the color and cleanliness of his SUV, on the cleverness of his bumper stickers, on his political and ideological affiliations (which I deduced from said decals), on his haircut, the suit he was wearing, his taste in movies (I was making things up at this point).
Alas, flattery got me nowhere. I was stuck behind the
SOB SUV for most of my trip, and my frustration continued to mount despite my attempts to channel it into something positive – and, eventually, it erupted, and I took to the left-hand shoulder to pass the SUV and the several dozen SUVs (everyone in Texas drives an SUV or a truck) in front of him. It felt wonderful, for a moment, until a police officer pulled onto the shoulder behind me.
I thought, briefly, about trying my luck with flattery again – “You’re looking lovely this morning, officer, your uniform really emphasizes your bust” – but I decided that was probably a bad idea.
So. The old adage is, in fact, true: flattery will get you nowhere.