I have long considered myself a student of the human character, and in many cases, that should be with a capital C. The years have exposed me to many personalities, traits, quirks, and philosophies. I have always been a person that does not enjoy confrontation, so I was always amazed at how many people seem to pursue it. Maybe not confrontation as in physical violence per se, but more in the Type A, aggressive sense. You know the ones I am talking about. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, as long as it is theirs. Sometimes it seemed that their sole purpose in life was to serve as a warning to others.
I had a guy that worked for me once that I called “the answer man”. He had the answer for everything. It used to amuse me to watch him in action, with ever so convincing arguments. Often, he was talking to someone with real knowledge of the subject and he just looked ridiculous. Reminds me of the old saw “it’s better to stay silent and be thought the fool then to open your mouth and prove it”.
The people that fascinated me the most however, were the purveyors of “oneupmanship”. These were the people that had to win at any cost. Even when they lost, they found some way to save face. I always thought it was a shame that they wasted so much energy trying to win, instead of sharing the victory with others. And they never missed an opportunity to tell you how great they were.
All this reminds me of a story I heard some time ago that made me chuckle. It goes like this.
A big city lawyer was representing the railroad in a lawsuit filed by an old rancher. The rancher’s prize bull was missing from the section through which the railroad passed. The rancher claimed that the bull must have been hit by the train, and wanted to be paid the fair value of the bull.
The case was scheduled to be tried before the justice of the peace in the back room of the general store.
As soon as the rancher showed up, the attorney for the railroad pulled him aside and tried to get him to settle out of court. The lawyer did his best selling job, and finally the rancher agreed to take half of what he was asking.
After the rancher had signed the release and took the check, the young lawyer couldn’t resist a little gloating over his success, telling the rancher “You know, I hate to tell you this old man, but I put one over on you in there. I couldn’t have won the case. The engineer was asleep and the fireman was in the caboose when the train went through your ranch that morning. I didn’t have one witness to put on the stand, so I bluffed you”.
The old rancher replied, “Well, to tell you the truth young feller, I was a little worried about winning the case myself, because that damned bull came home this morning.
I guess experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it.