Sunday, June 24, 2012

"Cool Friendly" Versus "Fool Friendly": a Public Service Announcement

What I intended to write about last night—before I was touched by a rat in an excessively humid and urine-stinking New York City subway station—dealt with the critical matter of “cool friendly” versus “fool friendly” behaviors. For merely an hour or so before my close encounter with a long-tailed rodent, I witnessed a textbook example of fool-friendly conduct in action. It occurred in a small diner in lower Manhattan, one of the fast disappearing, gritty and greasy eateries with both an old-style menu and reasonable prices. In other words, not a place for the area’s increasingly foodie-minded and superficial set to patronize, and who will—eventually—cast asunder even this culinary throwback to simpler times and pleasures.

This diner, nevertheless, still attracts vestiges of those living in rent-stabilized apartments and owned by landlords who pine for the day when their tenants meet their makers. This is the cold hard reality of life in today's Manhattan, and why, I fear, New York City is fast losing its charm and uniqueness.

I nonetheless witnessed a couple of diner regulars stop by for take-out orders—men who behaved in what they quite honestly believed was cool friendly, but, alas, came across as fool friendly to the wider world. This is actually a public service announcement blog. Having worked in retail for many years, fool friendly is not in the least respected. In fact, just as soon as these fellows exited the premises, the diner staff gleefully mocked them—and deservedly so. Yes, I’ve witnessed countless fool-friendly behaviors along the way—in where I worked for many years and where I shopped and dined, too.

Come on, folks, do you really want to be ridiculed in absentia by people whom you don’t really know? The retail experience is by and large a grueling one, and folks on the frontlines desperately need to vent their frustrations. I saw that at the diner yesterday, and I was guilty of engaging in more than a little of that many moons ago while on the job. It’s actually what kept us sane, I suspect, because there’s a considerable share of both incredibly needy and rather pathetic loony tunes out there—and I say that with all due respect. So, if you can, please remember there is a very fine line between being thought of as “cool” versus a “fool.” Generally speaking, less throwaway banter in the public square is better and silence is often golden.

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