A few months ago, I found myself in an awkward situation. It happens every so often, and it’s always because I try being a nice guy. I don’t think it’s wrong to be nice, but it’s been a problem of mine for a long, long time.
It’s not that I struggle with burning rage and/or a desire to rip people’s arms out of their sockets (most of the time, anyway). It’s not that I’m so incredibly selfish I don’t care about other people. Well, I am incredibly selfish, but that’s not where I’m going with this.
Rather, my problem is that I’m too much of a nice guy too much of the time. Some of you may be scratching your heads, wondering if I’m speaking about one of my lesser-known alternate personalities or elaborating on my delusional, self-propagating superhero status, but I’m not. I’m being serious.
Maybe it’s because I wear my Superman t-shirt a lot. Maybe it’s because I’m naïve. Maybe I’m just stupid. Whatever it is, I get into a lot of trouble trying to be nice.
At work, I suspect people question my motives. “Is he trying to win favor with the ladies? Is he a suck-up to the supervisors? What’s his angle? What does he want?” I say “suspect” because I don’t know for sure, but I have a hunch. The fact that I work with forty-two women and eight other guys means the misinformation distribution system is always left running. The scales of privacy are woefully unbalanced. There’s a gossip river knee-high, and I don’t have a boat, much less paddles.
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that being a nice guy has its disadvantages. For instance, women tend to manipulate me. I usually think I’m helping them out or providing a source of amusement—two things I love to do. But the harsh reality is that these lovely ladies are frequently taking advantage of me.
And you know what the worst part is? I let them! Now, to be fair, most of these women are unaware of what they do, but for those select few that do? Well, they make a point of pushing the dagger in deeper at every turn (and twisting it for good measure). Luckily for me, I don’t have a heart; otherwise it would have bled dry years ago.
Yes, I use a lot of hyperbole, but the fact remains that I need to keep my guard up. Most of all, I need to resist the urge to encourage this kind of behavior. I need to learn to be polite and courteous within the limits of my job title and not overdo things. You can be nice without bending over backwards for attention.
That’s it, really. Attention. I allow myself to be manipulated (knowingly or otherwise) because of the attention I receive from my female co-workers. I sit like a block of wood in Geppetto’s workshop as his lovely assistants drill holes in my head and run wires from my limbs. Is it any wonder I became a puppet in the hands of a beautiful but flippant puppeteer? Not really.
This story has an ending, but it’s not particularly happy. My puppeteer became my enemy when I decided to cut the strings, and now she’s moved on to a friend of mine who may not recover until he’s been chopped up and used as firewood. If that reads funny, I apologize. It’s not.
Well, I don’t have any great revelation to share except the most obvious: the attention of women should not be your motivation for doing what’s right and being helpful. Do what’s right because it’s right, and always let your conscience be your guide. And by conscience, I mean God.