Be nice! It really isn’t that hard. Okay, sometimes it is, sometimes it feels impossible. I was always the nice guy. I had no choice because I didn’t know how to be any other way. When I heard the saying” Nice guys finish last” I bought in: hook, line and sinker. I was destined to finish last because that is where nice guys finished. Once you have that mindset you might as well not even run the race. Why bother? You are going to finish last anyway. Take your sneakers, your sweat wicking running gear and Hulkamania bandana and go home. Do not pass start. Do not collect any self esteem, spend the night in your own self imposed jail. Good morning, good afternoon and good night.
Until I realized I wasn’t finishing last. There were lots of people behind me in “the race”. People trying harder, working harder and appreciating every opportunity they were given or had earned. Knowing that, it took me a long time to appreciate what I had and that being a “nice guy” wasn’t so bad.
As a FedEx driver, a job that will turn most people into cranky, angry, unhappy MFers I was still very nice. Especially compared to the UPS guy whose name was also Jim. There was FedEx Jim and UPS Jim or as I later found out Smiley Jim and Grumpy Jim.
I felt it was my job to be nice, the customer was always right and these were my customers. “You want these boxes THERE? No problem” “You want your Bowflex WHERE? No problem” You want these 20 cases of wine down the wet, grassy, steep hill to your wine cellar on this fine August afternoon? No problem”
Those things all happened and at the end of the day after I made it home and sat down with a cold beer and some bad TV I didn’t really care anymore. The day was over and I had done my job.
Those were the rare occasions. It was my regular customers who became my friends, the people whose routines I learned. When they wanted things, where they wanted them. I got to know them not just as my customers but as my friends. In a “FedEx” way. I was “FedEx (Smiley) Jim”. I had no other motive but to do a good job and try and do it well.
When I finally made the decision to leave (quit) I told some of my regular customers about my artistic past and how I hoped to pursue it in the future. Many were stunned but were equally happy that I was pursuing something other than FedEx. You see, my job was to be the FedEx guy, so that is what I did. I never ever mentioned art because it had no bearing on my job as a delivery guy. I was not proud of the job I did but I did it proudly. They were sad to see me leaving the job because I was good at what I did but were happy to see me doing something else.
My first art opportunity came through encouragement from a regular customer who pushed me to show my work to a local cafe owner. Not because she knew anything about my art but because she knew me and the kind job I had done for her. That one person opened my eyes to the kind of opportunities that existed by being ” the nice guy”.
That resulted in my first booking for an art show. Before I even had art to show. I realized that by not being a dick even on days when I really, really felt like it may have paid off. Because I can walk into places I have not visited for a year and the people know my name and ask how I’m doing. When I tell them about my goals and how I hope to have a show here or there they are almost always willing to help and give advice. “Go talk to this guy. Leave us some postcards. Keep in touch”. If I wasn’t a “nice guy” for all those years chances are I would not be getting that kind of treatment in return.
Does being a nice guy always pay off? Hell No! I know my good nature has been abused on many occasions. I have been stepped on, taken advantage of and used up and probably lost out on more than one opportunity because I’m a nice guy. But like I said I don’t know how to be any other way. (Do you really think I wanted to haul 20 boxes of wine down to some assholes wine cellar on a hot August afternoon? F That!)
So in about a week from today I will have my first “real” showing of my art. My “nice guy” reputation got my foot in the door and my art did the rest of the talking. Where will it lead? Who knows? Not Me. I can only take the chance I’ve been given and run with it.
So to make a long story short. (much to late for that) Be Nice! Because you never know when or where it is going to come back to you. Even if it doesn’t being known as the nice guy isn’t such a bad thing.