Vignette 2: Pack animals and frat syndrome

I shall begin with an apology. It’s been over two weeks since my last post. Writer’s block and life sort of took a double whack at me.
Now I shall continue with what I have store for this week.
When high levels of testosterone, inferiority complexes and group think are located in one place, there can be an in-group mentality, one with hierarchies where the betas vie for either impressing or usurping the alpha spot. Such a place of insecurity leads to some destructive behaviour.

A preamble: I’m not entirely convinced the human species is organized like other animal groups with alphas and subordinates but this story sure seems to point to some hint of it among some social circles. Having said that, the following story is true, though names and details have been changed.

Michael sat calmly in the coffee shop, typing up his resume. He was there for much of the evening, and his girlfriend was to meet him there soon. A half-drunk now cold cup of coffee was resting on the small 2′ by 2′ wobbly tabletop, empty chair facing his direction in anticipation for his girlfriend.

A gust of wintry wind ushered the arrival of another patron.

“Working away?” lilted Stephanie.

Michael looked up, “Hey sweetheart,” Michael smiled and looked up. He reached out his hand and held her recently ungloved one, warming it.

Three men in their early twenties walked in behind her, and lined up by the cashier, glancing back at Stephanie, and smirking.

Michael was somewhat annoyed , as he noticed this, but kept his focus on Stephanie. “Was the drive okay?”

“Plenty of traffics! Let me get a hot chocolate!”

“Okay,” Michael smiled.

Stephanie got behind the men in the queue, and Michael returned to his laptop.

The words hot and tight business pants floated past Stephanie’s ear, as she quickly turned around away from the snack fridge.

One of the guys made and held eye contact with her. His friends snickered, shoulders hunched behind him. He was darting his eyes back and forth between her and Michael.

Stephanie gave an annoyed countenance and looked over at Michael.

“Can I take your order?” said the barista.

“Ummm yeah…” said the one darting his eyes, still smirking, “I would like a medium cappuccino; yo, what do you guys want?” he asked his friends.

The shortest of the trio requested a small Irish decaf, while the burly looking one asked for a latte. They paid and awaited their beverages to the left of the cashier.

Stephanie paid for her hot chocolate but remained close to the cashier, on the count of the three obnoxious guys.

“Miss, your hot chocolate will be to your left, over there,” said the barista.

“Okay, thank you,” Stephanie said remaining stationary.

“Miss,” spoke up one of the guys looking at Stephanie, “your drink will be here,” he said motioning her to come over.

His caught Michael’s attention and he looked up glaring at the ring leader; the leader didn’t look back. He simply rolled his eyes and his head in a cocky manner, holding back a smirk, while looking back at his friends.

Stephanie shot a look at Michael with her hand by her side, palm facing Michael. Silently she was telling him “let me handle this.”

This calmed Michael down. He took a deep breath and sat back to watch the show. If there was one thing that he was afraid of it was her anger.

She remained where she was, speaking to the group of men in a calm voice, audible for the nearest tables.

“Listen sleaze bags; where do you come off trying to talk to me after staring at my ass and making degrading comments? You’re lucky my foot is not up YOUR ass right now. And how disrespectful are you to my boyfriend when you full well knew I had just come from that table?

The three of them looked looked over at Michael, who had raised his eyebrows smugly, silently saying to the three “leave,” though no sound came from his lips.

“Yo we’re just here for coffee,” said the short one pacing with his back turned to her, looking at the ring leader, and laughing to himself.

The ring leader smirked, though his face turned flush. The burly one rubbed his neck, nervously laughing while looking at his friends.

“Perfect!” said the barista, “you can take your drinks,” she turned to them, “and leave!” She gave them a cold smile.

“What the hell?! You can’t talk to us like that! We’re paying customers!” the short one said, outraged.

“So is she,” replies the barista, “and I will not let that kind of behaviour get a pass in my shop!”

“Can we please speak to your manager?” the ring leader said, dismissing her comment.

“You just did. Now, here are your drinks,” she said, placing the last paper cup in front of them, “and there is the door.”

At this point the entire coffee shop was looking at the exchange.

The three of them grabbed their drinks, annoyed and angry countenances on the ring leader and the short one respectively. The burly one seemed embarrassed looking at the ground, and hurried along to the exit with his friends. .

16. Apps and Infographs

Today I am going to bring you all an interactive resource and some fascinating information on how to raise happier children.

Thankfully, they are both at the same site!

The first is an app, called Happify designed to inspire and persuade you  to make yourself actively happy. I have been trying it, here and there, and am somewhat noncommittal, but the site does have inspiring testimonials which (though not scientific) are motivating enough to at least give it a go.

The second is an infographic presented by Happify for raising happier children. It goes into detail about the importance of parenting, how much does resilience count for despite broken homes, and how to properly praise a child. Enjoy the double-whammy!

Vignette 1: the pseudo-alpha

My friend and I walked to a nearby coffee shop one night. The temperature that day had been pleasant (in Canadian terms, that means it was a warm 2 degrees Celsius during the day but had dropped to around minus 4 degrees in the evening). Upon our return to his condo lobby, we waited for the elevator; when it opened, there were three women, early to mid-twenties, and one man, shout, stout, nose stud (strange detail to notice). In any case, my friend and I casually continued our conversation, as we stepped inside the mobile room.
As the door closed, my friend stepped aside, “Oh! I’m sorry,” he said to the guy behind him, “did I step on you?”
“No, bro,” he rolled his eyes, “you were in my space,” he snipped. His posture became a closed and protective one. He put his hands in his pockets, had a listless stare toward his right (at the elevator wall). His foot silently shuffled backward.
“Oh, yeah, I’m a big guy,” my friend quipped to defuse him.
“Yeah,” I replied, looking away, “elevators are not very spacious, in any case.” He never replied back to us.
I was reminded of a scene in the film Annie Hall, where Woody Allen and Diane Keaton’s characters are standing in line for the movies, and there is a particularly loud-mouthed show off talking about communication theory to his date, but he is loud enough for everyone in the line up to hear. These pseudo-alpha types have a need to prove themselves to complete strangers.

15. True Confidence

Often times we hear the phrase “true confidence can only come from within”. We accept this as a meaningless maxim; in other words, we agree to this but many of us do not know what it entails.

We need to establish two definitions: confidence and within. The former serves as a belief that one can successfully accomplish a certain task (paraphrasing Merriam Webster). The latter meaning that the source of said confidence should be self sustaining from ones own self and not from anyone else.

But how does one authentically achieve it? I am going to write up a short series of vignettes in the next few posts all about examples of false vs true confidence. Come back soon!