After reading Samantha Brick’s article about how people are threatened by her good looks, it irked something in me. We haven’t heard from the other side of the argument – the average person in life who is nothing more than an insignificant spec in the world that we inhabit. This is his counter-column, which probably has the odd grammatical mistake or two but please kindly ignore them since he wrote this very late last night and, to be honest, it’s all a bit average really.*
On a recent train to Guildford, whilst cramped into a pathetically tiny space like sardines in a crushed tin box, I was delighted when a train guard came down the aisle to check my ticket.
“Can I see your railcard please? Ah, that’s great, thanks very much,” he said as he continued his way down a packed train.
You’re probably thinking ‘what a boring thing that is’. Whilst it was boring, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. At least, not for me.
Throughout my adult life I’ve been served food (mostly at Nando’s) by waiters who literally couldn’t give a fuck. Once, a man offered me to go in front of him when buying a train ticket because he was frustrated by his inability to work a machine, while there was also a time when a bus driver let me on for free because he was just tired and didn’t want to face any more normal people.
Another time I walked down Brick Lane on my way to Rough Trade East when a man tapped me on the shoulder and said ‘Why don’t you come in my curry house young man?’ Even people at Wetherspoons who look surprisingly younger than 18 ask me for ID everytime I go there to buy a bottle of Peroni.
I wonder myself what could have possibly happened in order for all of this to happen and the answer is charmingly simple: I came out of a womb and continued growing up from there.
While I’m no Jared Leto, I’m short for a person of my age, quite thin, dark-haired and, as I’m often told, nothing really remarkable. But there are downsides to being pretty average – the main one being that no one pays any attention due to my insignificance.
If you’re a man reading this (or a woman for that matter), I’d hazard that you’ve already formed an opinion about me – and it’s probably not anything worth tweeting about. Whilst many doors have been held open in shopping centres for me whilst I purchase some goods, others have also been closed. Then again, those latter ones might have been because I went to those shops after closing time.
I don’t have any personality traits that make me stand out in particular but I’ve lost several acquaintances over the years due to not bothering making contact. If someone came up to me and starting talking to me a chill would descend…mostly because these conversations happen in winter or I’m in a room that doesn’t have the benefits of central heating.
It’s not just people that I was forced to get along with at school and subsequently sixth form that have shunned me. All kinds of people – workers, kids, teenagers, mums, more teenagers – don’t even give my face a glance.
And most poignantly of all, no one has ever asked me to be a best man. The fact that none of my friends have even had a wedding might be a contributing factor but this is beside the point.
You’d think we’d take pride in being so utterly insignificant.
I work hard at being a meaningless blob – at home I stare frequently into space from my office chair whilst listening to whatever music-guff is being played on the radio. Unfortunately, people in this world find nothing more than annoying than being in the same room as a total non-entity.
Last week, I walked past my neighbour on the street and waved but she only briefly returned a smile, almost as if to say that she’s busy and has no time for someone who she barely knows and rarely meets even though we’ve lived in the same apartment block for over a year.
Recently I asked a friend of mine at a party if I had said something wrong. It seems that the only wrong thing that I did was to not do anything of note at all. I could have a bag on my head yet no one would notice me. The friend in question was considerably not average. And better-looking. But that isn’t important.
This friend also mentioned to me that something could happen with a look in their eyes that suggested something magical and amazing – as if something that actually mattered to me was about to be uttered from their mouth. I asked what it was. They then proceeded to ask me to get the shot glasses so that they could do Jägerbombs. Oh. I see.
This isn’t the first time that a sense of non-drama has gripped human beings around me. During an internship that I did two years ago, sometimes we’d go to a pub down the road if there was a special occasion.
I always accepted the invitations and they were always pleasant until one day in June. We were all a couple of pints/wine glasses/coke glasses into our stay and discussion turned towards jobs and how doomed everyone was.
One person who was leaving said some interesting things about the music industry, saying unrepeatable words (even though I’ve already said ‘fuck’ once-oh shit, I’ve said it twice-OH CHRIST I’VE SAID ‘SHIT’ etc.) and cracking jokes. I stopped going to that pub, mainly because my internship ended soon after.
Charlie Brooker, comedy writer and television presenter, has frequently said in columns and programmes that we are gripped by a sense of our insignificance.
“We are all alone, not as alone as a cat in a bin, but alone,” he said once. People often think that because you don’t live, or are forcibly placed in, a confined space you live a perfect live – which simply isn’t true.
“Look at people, walking around, drinking cups of tea, getting little bits of sandwich round their mouths as they eat – God, they’re disgusting…people ruin everything.”
I certainly found that out – before realising this shit happens every single day.
One day at a former retail workplace was profoundly annoying. It was in the winter time and I opted to wear a t-shirt saying “ASK ME ABOUT BLU-RAY”. It was shouty, yet nothing offensive and barely any customer even asked me.
My boss then talked to me and said that maybe I should wear the regular staff t-shirt since it was distracting customers. I didn’t dare point out that no one really gave a toss.
Rather than argue, I shrugged it off and slowly but surely went back to my old ways of wearing a baggy t-shirt that was too big for me. When you’re someone who is a bit more confident or extroverted (and possibly attractive although that’s never a contributing factor) you can blag your way out of these situations and get away with it knowing that you’ll soon blag your way to a position of store manager.
Insignificant people, however, are far more likely to just get on with things and not really do much to get along with their co-workers. Instead they sit silently in the staff room waiting for the working day to end.
That t-shirt that I wore was the only thing that made me feel unique in that place. Soon it gotten to a point when putting on the t-shirt was as lifeless as Alan Hansen’s football punditry. I wanted my weekends back, even though they consisted of little more than staying in and moaning about how shit Saturday night TV is.
All I needed was a reason to hand in my notice. Everyone there didn’t really consider me as a valuable asset so I didn’t think this would be problematic.
But then when I did give in my notice – on the reason that the shop I worked for was in the financial dumps and would more than likely have to fold soon – they were surprised at the fact that I even cared. It was greeted with a gentle shrug before my boss allowed me to get on with my work.
Things gradually began to deteriorate – both my non-existent relations with co-workers and the store I worked at itself.
As we all went to a pub after the last day, I only had a drink in a corner of my own and as I left I was begged by two people I’d barely spoken to to stay on. By that point I’d had enough misery and I know I didn’t want to make it worse by going into one of Guildford’s vapid nightclubs.
I find that the older you get the more insignificant you become and, therefore, there is a huge amount of pressure to be relevant in your youth. My girlfriend, who is slightly older than me, has done so and continues to do so as she gets older.
As someone who is Finnish, even though that is a redundant fact in this anecdote, she takes great pride in hearing the fact that no one really cares about me because that means she has me all to herself. Some would call it selfish, but it could also be love.
Yet I dread the fact that I have to go to yet another party just to make up the numbers. Honestly, I do go to them but judging by the low amount of Facebook photos that exist of me you wouldn’t have thought so.
Sometimes these ploys don’t work. One time I went to a party that was being randomly held for the royal wedding and, inevitably, photos were being taken of us. I didn’t particularly mind.
That was until people started decorating me like a toy. They decided to put a big, fancy flower in my hair and cheap-looking heart sunglasses on my face. I looked an unhappy fashion general but I sat there and took the pain. Because there’s no alternative.
So now I’m 23 and probably one of very few men entering adulthood that can’t wait for the years to speed along. That way I will blend even further into the background and become even more of an anonymity than before.
Perhaps then people will stop judging me in their heads and instead accept me for who I am, someone just as deeply flawed as they are. Obviously they won’t, because, being deeply flawed, we’ll refuse to acknowledge it meaning that we’re all screwed.
*Obviously this is all a big, stinking send-up and I had no reason to write it other than the fact that Brick’s original article made me laugh so much that it was screaming to be mocked.