Years ago I was looking for a gap year work placement. Having sent our a bunch of letters, I got few rejections, some interviews, a lot of indifference and, finally, two offers. The first, working for one of the largest sportswear companies in the world, collaborating with a very popular elitist London designer. The job was in global PR. They literally said: “we need you in two weeks (it was August), in Spain- we are shooting a campaign on the *exquisitely Spanish name* beach.” “Beach”, I thought. “Beach; August; models; me.” Who the f**k would say no?
I did. It seemed right at the time to work for a fashion start-up run by a celebrity owner- an actress and a model. Being a cineaste, I liked the idea of working for her. Anyway, after months of languid searching I had a job. My first decently paid job in London. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, few days into my job, the fashion week started. I have been to a few shows, met some people, went to some parties. I knew it wasn’t wise but how can one regret having swell time? After a particularly pleasant evening I passed out on my way to the shower and was woken up by the particularly sad ringtone of my cell. I picked up, a woman was screaming at the other end. A touch light-headed, I forgot I had a job, so I winced and said what any well-raised, polite, educated and impeccably mannered gentleman would say: – Who the f**k are you, woman?
And hung up.
Many lives ago, when I was much younger, nicer, smarter and generally more pleasant, one of my classmates had a heart attack. In spite of rainbows in my head, I was pretty sure the bastard was simulating to skip the exams, but decided to visit him in the hospital anyway. Well, we were playing in the same team and few of the girls were going, so I just tagged along. I used to live in the very center of our glorious city- in 18 years spent there, I have not used a bus more than a dozen times. The hospital, on the other hand, was in bloody Middle-earth, God knows how we got there. As any adequate person, I hate hospitals. The only thing more depressing than hospitals are the patients. There is nothing more depressing than men in pajamas. I tell you; and I have seen some pretty depressing shit.
My mate was sharing a room with two men in their 60s, who were clearly burning the thick wax candles of their lives at both ends. All three were very glad to see us. When I say “us”, I rather refer to the three very attractive 17 year old girls that came with me. Although I also got a hug from our dying hero. We stayed for about half an hour, chatting about the usual- he was upset his condition (bloody scam) wouldn’t allow him to participate in the next game, we were condoling, saying there will be plenty more and so on and so forth until I felt like living in a Tchaikovsky ballet where one can sense the end coming an hour away but there is still an hour of beautiful repetitions to go. In the meantime, one of the 60 year old alcoholics we turned out to be visiting, a charming man by the way, was asking one of my friends on a date. Clearly having been in the situation many times before, she has declined very masterfully- gently but firmly. The gentleman looked at her with a gaze hat would make a cabdriver blush and said: “An old horse won’t damage the furrow.” My dear, young, sweet, innocently blue-eyed friend looked back and, with a charmingly childish smile, dropped: “But won’t plough deep as well”.
I could tell stories like these for hours. My point is, in both cases (as well as in another dozen I could think of), rudeness, has brought people together. My boss has forgiven me and we have been close friends ever since. The old alcoholic got where many young men couldn’t- he actually had a coffee with my angelic friend.
I can think of only one occasion where being rude backfired. We were leaving a pub in Knightsbridge about elevenish on a Saturday night. A cabbie was chatting to his mate, ignoring me standing outside in the cold, his window rolled down. Trying to attract attention, I instinctively said the only thing one should under no circumstances say to a cabbie in London. I said: “oi!”
The gentleman in his late thirties turned to me:
– Oi? F**k you…
And drove off.
I wasn’t too upset. After all, it was Saturday night in one of the busiest well-off neighborhoods of London- how hard can it be to get a cab there? Some forty minutes later, having walked all the way to Mayfair, I came to realize it was pretty hard. In thirty years I have been about, it was one of the very few occasions when rudeness did not pay off. On the other hand, I have had a wonderful walk through the moonlit Hyde Park with a charming friend. So, I was not too upset with the cabbie- pride is a deadly sin, rudeness isn’t. Let him f***ing burn.