It’s not easy to shrug off the unwanted people who plague our daily lives. Strange salespeople pitching unsolicited crap with cold calls. Strangers knocking on the door to say that Jesus loves you and they want to talk about it. Young people who canvas door-to-door working on commission, wanting you to switch cable or electric companies. So many variations of the soft/hard sells on a theme of saving or spending more of your money and how they can separate you from it. It’s a time honored-tradition rivaling the likes of Willy Loman, in the play Death of a Salesman, or that guy who wrote the book The Art of the Deal.
Salesmen soliciting their wares are part of the culture. Free enterprise and the capitalist spirit shape the world today. It’s apparent in every aspect of consumer/customer crap, offering us stuff we don’t want or need for cold cash. Folks like Baltimore’s Jack Luskin, “The Cheapest Guy in Town.” Pushing electronics with the likes of “Crazy Eddie” and “Nobody Beats the Wiz.” But worse than salesman or used car dealers are your sometime friends. Friends who were acquaintances when you were young and now haunt the present like a nosy neighbor looking for dirty skeletons in your closet. Under the guise of having your best interests at heart, they connive and finagle their way into your soul, sucking the life force right out of you. Maybe it’s just human nature to feel superior to, or better than others. I‘m certain that a real friend would respect your peace and quiet.
We sell ourselves for acceptance by those whom we believe to have something in common with. A vested interest in our type of folk, who share common misconceptions about each other. We are salesmen to each other’s psyches. Investing blind allegiance to friends who may not give a damn about you. In this give-and-take of personalities, we buy into the idea of the product of us, against the push and pull of individual free will. Selling ourselves short in a society that doesn’t care for pure thought, original ideas, or freedom of expression.
We don’t like too many questions. We get anxious. It’s a waste of precious time. Because time is money and we answer to no one but the echo of us, searching for clues by comparing others to ourselves. Toying with emotions and feelings of well–being at the expense of others. The past haunts us. The future’s a guessing game. It’s a buyers’ market and everybody’s for sale. Poor judgment and bad choices made in younger days might come back to bite us in the ass. Fear will devour any sense of decorum or common sense we might gain through trial and error. Have we learned any lesson from history’s instant replay? It’s one thing to say you’re an asshole and quite another to be called one by some fair-weather friend. To be made the butt of your own joke is okay, unless other friends are laughing at you, not with you. Those assholes are not on your side. Nobody has your best interest at heart. Some even enjoy watching others squirm like a bug under their thumbs, or laugh at a cry for love. Regardless of how great we think you are, there’s always someone who will knock you down and relish your failures.
We watch in horror as someone drowns, secretly wishing they would, and thanking the lucky stars it wasn’t us sucking water for a last gasp for air. Natural disasters bring out the best and worst survival instincts in us. There but by the grace of god goes another poor sucker. As if some invisible god can save you from the abusive fate of someone else’s misfortune, shame or ridicule. Flaunting scorn, envy, and petty jealousy, we laugh nervously. Doubting each other in the name of friendship. Smiling faces stick the knife deep in your back. To eat that delicious crow and have a second helping of humble pie as you sit alone with the idiot sum total of everything you can never control or hold. It’s all part of our plan to make us feel inferior to each other. To be less secure than another. We sabotage our success with fear of rejection by a self-serving jury of our peers and friends. Guilty as sin.
For a long time friends existed on a sitcom where they hung out in a coffee house and tried to be funny. I saw them there. The great thing about friends these days is the bulk of them live within the confines of social media. A network of super friends. They’re abstract friends we like to roll with online. They live in the air and hover in gangs around cell towers. They visit us through vibrations and sound waves. With the click of a mouse or the touch of a screen, you just made a new friend.
And if that friend gets nasty, a single keystroke will banish them forever to some simulated hell, never to be seen or heard from again. Friends and enemies are closer than ever, and yet we never see them coming. All is right with the world within a world, all your friends are there, smiling and happy. A half-baked heaven full of friends to be with, or not to be…
"There but for the grace of God go I" is one of the most egocentric, passive-aggressive things I've heard. Over the decades, I've managed to slither out of most of my ego-skin. I have just enough left to keep a form in this world. One upside to that is it seems to make the downward stroke of the knife into my back not worth the effort.