I got word recently that a person I know said some bad things about me. This news was relayed with a tad more glee than I would have liked, but what the hey? The bad-mouthing was nothing particularly hateful, nor was it surprising. I've been called a "a-hole" in the past - it was not the first time - sometimes behind my back and sometimes to my face. Usually it's combined with other words...modifiers like pompous and arrogant and one that begins with the letter "f." And sometimes all three!
For the record, my "offense" in this case was one of non-contact with a person to the point of avoidance, something I do not deny. There are just people I'd rather not associate with. So sue me.
Not long ago, I worked briefly for a non-aviation consulting group. It was lucrative and kind of fun, but it wasn't aviation! and my heart just wasn't in it. My coworkers were, no surprise, non-aviators. They were pleasant enough people. Our workspace was all open and social. And I obtusely thought we all got along great.
It turned out that some of them disliked me intensely. I found this out at a Christmas party when people's tongues were well-lubricated with beer and scotch and rum. And honestly, it was troubling at the time. I mean, we all want to be liked, right? Isn't that part of our human nature? And so the fact that my charming personality couldn't win these people over was rough. Okay, maybe I didn't lose any sleep over it, but I confess that I did wonder why?
Then again, I am a pilot. And we pilots can be...well...we're different. Sometimes our social skills leave a little to be desired. I know that "I am a pilot" is a weak excuse for anything. But understand, my whole life has revolved around being in absolute, complete control while involved in a certain endeavor. This manifests itself in my non-flying life in many ways. To wit: I am often overbearing and insistent and intense - a classic control freak. I think very linearly and logically. I view most things as problems needing to be solved. I am intolerant of "stupidity" while demonstrating vast quantities of it myself. I can be quite neurotic. I have a morbid sense of humor, and a nonchalant view of death (hey, it happens to all of us sooner or later - some pilots just go sooner).
I realize these things, and I usually try to ameliorate or at least modulate them, with varying degrees of success. My family and close friends seem to understand - at least, they put up with me. (Although frankly I don't know how Matt has for so long. I sometimes think he looks up to me as an example of how-not-to-be-when-I-get-to-be-his-age.)
I know some people who openly state that they don't give a rat's ass if anybody on the planet likes them, and they act as though that is their actual goal. People like that usually get what they're seeking. On the other hand, it's not good to be a "pleaser," somebody who goes out of his/her way to be liked. I try to find some middle ground.
We all have this self-image that we think we project to the outside world. Me, I like to think that when people see me they see a combination of Rodney Dangerfield, James Bond, Alan Alda, Charlie Rose, and Chuck Yeager. ...In other words, someone who's funny and likes to have a good time, who's self-assured, glib, smart, and the best damn pilot on the face of the planet. However, I suspect that some people are not getting that. Hmm.
And don't get me wrong! I'm not looking for gratification or validation. I do the best I can - we all do. But I know that you cannot be loved by everyone. So, I guess what it comes down to is that our self-image and our real image can be quite different. Some people will see me as Good-Time Bobby, and others will see me as Bob the Pompous A-hole.
In the end, there's not much you can do about it. It just is what it is.