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Speaking of Central Casting... - Elf M. Sternberg
Speaking of Central Casting...
There are two truism about first impressions. The first is the one that your parents tried to impress upon you: never go by them. Whatever you think of someone's dress or mannerisms, there may be a great or lousy human being far along the spectrum from your first impression in the person you just met.

The second is that we do it anyway: that your first impression is the most important, it sets the tone and sensibility for all future transactions with the other person, and moving that gauge up or down is hard work.

Omaha and I were at Kouryou-chan's school for the monthly garden party. We were there at 10:00am, and parents started to trickle in for the next fifteen minutes. We supplied coffee and muffins, divvied up the work, and set to it.

At 11:00am, a car pulled up. A man and a woman got out of the car, and she did not look like she was dressed to get her hands dirty. "Hi," I said. "I'm Elf. You here for the party?"

The woman stared off into the distance, not really taking in any of the details. The man said, "Elf? I'm Doug. Yes, we are. What are we doing today?" I was taken aback. His manner wasn't arrogant, just very loud and foreward. He wore an earbug in his right ear, his smile was as bright and shiny as Bender's ass, and his voice was the kind last heard from Joe Isuzu. He had that amazingly firm and practiced handshake you get only from glad-handing as a career. Seriously, if you called up Central Casting and said you wanted an Asshole Salesman, this is the guy you'd get.

His wife barely twitched as he spoke. She was a small woman of Pacific Island descent, I'd guess, wearing a cotton white dress and pearls. Not clothes for getting dirty.

Okay, I told myself, calm down. He's not from Central Casting. I described to him the tasks on today's assignment, weeding, planting, cleaning gutters, picking up trash from the back parking lot. He never changed expression either, just held his rock-solid look of feigned interest. I said, "We started about an hour ago, and there's still plenty to do. Need some hours, eh? If you stay to the end, the two of you can put six hours on your tab."

"Is there one in May?"

"There should be. There's one every month. The hours cycle starts in the summer, so May will be the last one."

"Well, we have other things to do. I have money to put in the bank and, you understand. We'll come to the May one, won't we honey?"

"Mm," his wife said, nodding briefly, never turning her eyes away from a middle distance that seemed to see nothing at all.

"Yes," he continued, "We have other things to do today. Well, nice to meet you, Elf." And off he went.

Wow, even the second impression was terrible.

Current Mood: amused amused
Current Music: Laika, Bad Times

2 comments or Leave a comment
autopope From: autopope Date: April 18th, 2011 10:10 am (UTC) (Link)
"I have money to put in the bank and, you understand."


That's rather a special kind of excuse.

(On the other hand, ahem: on this side of the pond, "garden party" means people swanning around in posh frocks and lounge suits at a reception with a marquee pitched on someone's lawn. Is that a known usage in the US?)
elfs From: elfs Date: April 18th, 2011 02:19 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was such a strange comment, one of those thing you probably couldn't put into a book because nobody would believe it. I mean, that's an errand: ten minutes at an ATM.

Is the States, "Garden Party" is indeed an elegant time held on a manicured sward among manicured people. We use the term with light sarcasm (not "ironically") for the sort of dirty work involved in doing the manicuring as school volunteers
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