Monday, 28 September 2009

Rude boy

The rudest person I've ever met was someone I used to work with in a London bookshop some twenty years ago. He believed in saying exactly what he thought, however offensive it might be.

P. regularly reduced his workmates to tears or had them huddled in corners bemoaning his upsetting remarks. But he couldn't be sacked because he was good at his job and was never rude to customers. So all we could do was put up with him and hope his withering comments wouldn't be aimed in our direction.

Like other obnoxious characters, he could sometimes be disarmingly sensitive and generous, which took the edge off people's desire to be rid of him. But mostly he seemed to take a perverse pleasure in goading and teasing, just to see the explosive reaction.

He had no qualms about telling people they had put on weight, or were wearing hideous clothes, or had peculiar tastes in food, or had a huge arse. He would tell you quite frankly what he thought was wrong with you, or laugh merrily at some unfortunate mistake you'd made.

He would do his best to catch you out over something, or criticise your friends or spouse. He would suggest your political opinions were naive and your leisure activities a waste of time.

We all fantasised about his coming to a sticky end through various grotesque and painful means. We were finally freed from his repellent behaviour when a bunch of us, including him, were made redundant and he found a new job. No doubt his new workmates soon learnt to avoid him and keep some tissues handy.

Not surprisingly he had no wife or steady girlfriend. No woman could have tolerated him for long, her self-esteem would have plummeted.

I just hope that somewhere along the line he met his match, someone so equally offensive he finally got a taste of his own medicine.

26 comments:

Baino said...

It's amazing how fleeting someone's compliments can be but how being insulted seems to linger. He sounds awful. . my father used to say, if you can't say anything nice, it's better not to say anything at all!

Nick said...

Baino - The irony is that we'd be preoccupied with the insults for days while he probably forgot them as soon as he said them. If only he'd taken your father's advice!

Wisewebwoman said...

Sometimes it's worth keeping in contact with old workmates just to find out "what happened to...." just to see if they met that grim end we'd all hoped for in a karmic way.
He sounds mightily disturbed and remarkably insensitive. Perhaps coming from the school of "I'll get you first....".
You never did find out, did you?
XO
WWW

Megan said...

That's so sad. I wonder what made him that way? He must have known his remarks were hurtful, mustn't he?

Brighid said...

There is probably a story behind his story. How sad that he was such an unhappy character that he treated those around him badly.

meno said...

Perfect example of someone who thinks of themselves as brutally honest, and enjoys the brutality far more than the honesty.

Nick said...

www - Mightily disturbed indeed. I wouldn't like to be the therapist trying to unravel it all. No, I never found out what happened to him, in fact I've lost touch with all that particular bunch of workmates.

Megan - He must have known the effect of his remarks but he just couldn't help himself. It was a compulsive habit, I guess.

Brighid - I'm sure he was very unhappy underneath, but far too insecure and uptight to reveal his true feelings to anyone.

Meno - Very perceptive. That's exactly the part he relished. If he'd been honest but also kind-hearted he wouldn't have raised so many hackles.

Thriftcriminal said...

Perhaps the behaviour evolved as part of a dysfunctional family environment? I know someone who can be remarkably snide, but it seems his entire family engages in this behaviour. He is also single.

Nick said...

Thrifty - Oh definitely a dysfunctional family. I imagine one in which the others were equally rude, as you suggest, and which discouraged him from showing his true self and finer feelings. Very masculine in other words.

Thriftcriminal said...

Ha! You should meet my aunts. I'd prefer the family you describe!

Leah said...

I worked with someone like that, long long ago in my late adolescence (in fact, it was in a bookstore). One day she went just one toke over the line with a remark, and I dumped a cold soda in her lap. Yes. I did. I'm not proud, but I will just say that everyone else thanked me later, in private. And I wasn't fired either.

Suburbia said...

unfortunately I have had to make my blog invite only. If you still want to read my ramblings then please e mail me (address on my profile page) and I will send you an invite x

Thanks for your comments

Nick said...

Thrifty - The mind boggles. I imagine a gaggle of ferocious, censorious aunts vetting your every action!

Leah - That's exactly what this guy needed (often) - a few drinks thrown in his face. But nobody ever had the nerve to do it. We must have been too middle-class and restrained.

Suburbia - Sorry to hear that. I'll certainly email you.

Nick said...

Suburbia - You're already invite only so I can't access your blog. Please email me at nickhereandnow@hotmail.com

conortje said...

gosh, he wasn't Dutch was he? ;-)

Nick said...

Conor - No, thoroughbred English as far as I know. Why, are the Dutch renowned for their uninhibited rudeness?

Thriftcriminal said...

More how they treat each other, just thought I'd pointy it out as your anti-male bias was showing :-)

Nick said...

Thrifty - Ah, I see. Yes, I know some women can be far bitchier than men - especially to each other! Can't help the anti-male bias, it must be all those feminist hormones rampaging round my body!

Thriftcriminal said...

That'll be the lack of meat :-)

conortje said...

very much - they like to call it 'being honest' :-)

Nick said...

Thrifty - Ooh, you little tease you. Actually I was seriously anti-male from an early age, long before I gave up meat. Blame my lovely granny and my beastly father.

Conor - What, an entire population like P? What a horrifying thought. Though perhaps if they're all equally frank, then they're quite accustomed to it?

Rummuser said...

I wish that you had posted this before I wrote my post on 'Hope and Renewal'. You have some hope!

Grannymar said...

I came across somebody like that once, when I moved to a different office. I made it clear to her that her reputation was well recognised through the organisation and added that I was not prepared to put up with it. She was always sweetness and light to me and to everyone else within my hearing.

Nick said...

Ramana - I always have hope that someone nasty will see the error of their ways. Maybe if they meet the right woman, or they get sacked, or they get ill and dependent on others....

Grannymar - Good for you, standing up to her and making it clear you weren't going to tolerate her behaviour. I wonder why we were all so feeble?

Liz said...

What a monster.

Nick said...

Liz - A monster indeed. I wonder if he realised he was a monster or did he think he was just outspoken and genuine?