Friday, June 26, 2015

Liking everyone

Given enough time I find I like all my co-workers. Even I blanch at the word "all". How can that be? And considering the many years I've worked here, that comes out to hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people (I can't quite believe it makes it to a thousand, but it comes close enough for me to keep saying "hundreds" over and over). This is a notable illustration of my character. For a cynical, embittered, angry misanthrope it turns out I like an astonishing number of people. I like a perverse amount of people. When you factor in the tens of thousands of library patrons who I also seem to like, despite every reason to encourage the contrary, it almost looks unsettling.

I suffer from a surfeit of empathy. I have a hard time keeping grudges. I can spot the charm of a person even as it's dissolved into a 99.99999 percent loathsome personality. Indeed, the very minute proportion of their virtues themselves makes them fascinating to me, like drinking a red wine with a hint of oregano so small that you keep sipping the wine delicately trying to detect it again, trying to let yourself know that you didn't merely imagine it.

So, as with any sensible person who is burdened with a personality trait that is so heavily skewed in one direction, I try hard to compensate. With co-workers for whom my disrespect is profound I keep my distance as much as possible. Proximity softens me. I harden my heart. For every coldness I want to set forth I have to plant my feet and concentrate. It does not come naturally. Over a long enough time, with enough familiarity, liking people comes completely unbidden to me. And so even if someone crosses the red line with me my default is to forget it over and over, like America with Republicans. Who wants to be like a Republican? Ick. So when peoples' toes slip past that horrible line of evil I do what I have to do. I try to memorize the transgression. I nurse it like a precious drink I cannot afford to finish and have no good way to replace.

It helps. But I am dealing with a deep seated handicap, and all I can do is try to manage it, which I must, day after day, with small triumph, endless struggle, and a casual affection for too many, which has attracted the gods themselves to me, like fruit flies on a ripe peach.

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