Sunday, August 19, 2007

About Dealing With Others

It's so easy to mouth off the clichés of old:

No man is an island.

You can't please everybody.

Tell me who your friends are and I'll tell you who you are.

But, as Joe's posts best fiend and a lesson on companionship would painfully show, it is not as easy as that.

I did remember for a time before when I tried to join the "in" crowd. But there was apprehension for some in accepting a four-eyed weakling who happens to be the youngest member of the class. I was, by all accounts and purposes, not cool.

So I just went on my own way - the trusty video game consoles at home and at the rental centers kept me company as most of my classmates were out roaming the featureless streets of a fourth class municipality. I also thank my parents for being one of the first subscribers to Cable TV - a lifesaver.

Slowly, some people I met at the rental centers turned out to be the best friends I've ever had: Mark, Jude, Mikhail. Friends who would be close confidantes, criticize me when needed, stay for a chat over bottles of beer, gin or rum.

I am not saying that you'll have real friends when you stay in video game rental centers or internet cafés. Anywhere, you'll find real friends who share your interests, support you in times of need, console you in moments of grief, and share your happiness. It is just a matter of being yourself, having the right frame of mind to look out for those hapless many that see themselves as the center of the universe, and steering away from them.

And if you do get into the predicament of having a former close friend as an adversary, there is no better place than that. You are in possession of information that can help you in exacting revenge, or accepting his faults and walking away.

If you choose vengeance, you can always rely on the knowledge of his personality, his strengths and weaknesses, and craft a campaign accordingly. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer, indeed.

If you are valorous enough to walk away, you can always comfort yourself in the belief that you are a better person and you do not deserve the added aggravation of serving up his ego.

I have been fortunate enough to walk through the corridors of public schools. That is the only advantage public school graduates have over their more cultured, better groomed counterparts - their unmatched street savvy. Put us in a foreign environment and we will last 2 seconds longer than the preppy kid beside us. That is because every personality quirk, every manipulative psychopath, every immature despot is locked up in one of these schools. When you deal with them everyday, not everything is black and white; sometimes you have to step into some gray to live and fight another day.

This will not be the last time you'll feel the pain of betrayal, and you will meet more complex characters, more intricate plots and more consequences. I guess the only thing that could not be reliably programmed into an artificial intelligence system is Man's infinite potential to be unpredictable.

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