Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Everybody’s little helper

“You have that type of face.”

“Take it as compliment.”

Just a few choice phrases I hear on many occasion.

At work I need to be super organised and plan and guide team members, at home I am the diary owner and the one who runs our social life, with friends I tend to be the one who over the years makes group arrangements or suggestions of nights out. With family I am the one contacted about meeting up and ideas for plans.

Whatever job I’ve been in and for whatever length of time I’ve always been the go to person for people across the company – Mel will know, Mel keeps records of everything, Mel can tell you, Mel will have the details of who to ask.

I’ve come to realise I just need to accept that this seems to be part and parcel of who I am, my nature, my approach. I help people. I organise.

In turn, I also admittedly get a bit uncomfortable if others do take the reins since I’m a bit of a control freak and they’ll likely not do it how I would have done.

However, last year I began to notice another pattern emerging. That of strangers.

Yes complete and utter strangers, in the street, on public transport, in any kind of random situation you’d like to think of.

People I have no knowledge of until the particular said moment, who also want my help or to talk to me.

We all know the elderly man or lady at the bus stop, they look lonely, they just want someone to make conversation with. I have no issue with them and have sympathy for them, but what is it about me that makes them think they’ll start up a conversation with me. Not the half dozen other people around them and on occasion closer to them.

On my breaks at work, quite often on my walk to or from the local coffee shop I get approached by tourists or people going for a meeting who ask me directions. Now I am based near Brick Lane, Spitalfields and Liverpool Street – you can imagine how many people there are around that area. But I’m the person that gets approached.

The best example so far was yesterday. Walking back to my office a young guy in his late 20s, early 30s, stopped and asked ‘Can I ask you a favour?’ I should add I’d been doing my usual London-commuter-super-fast-paced-stone-faced look so I don’t really think I looked all that friendly.

Me, being me, I said ‘sure’ and smiled.

He then proceeded to present me with a really teeny tiny mobile phone (whilst holding a bigger phone in his other hand) and asked ‘I’ve not got my glasses. Can you do me a favour and read out the number for me’. My getting-old, non-trusting self did even for a minute think this was a scam and he was going to distract me whilst someone else dipped in my bag and took my phone or purse! (I know, how old am I getting??)

So of course I checked which entry and read it out to him. ‘Ah thanks you’re an angel!’ and off he went.

Now, don’t get me wrong it is a compliment people clearly think I am approachable and that to me is a positive thing. However, it can – as you can appreciate – get a little exhausting.

Why is it then people choose to ask me over all these many other members of the public, workspace, social group, family?

I read recently that nowadays we live in a world where people don’t accept responsibility for their actions anymore. We all blame each other and nobody wants to go ahead and do things for others, everyone wants someone else to do it.

I’ve always been someone who can’t stand to see things unfinished or ignored. This new mantra people seem to follow in society is lost on me. It’s just not me.

And when I’ve tried to not offer myself up to do things? In all honesty it’s kind of made me miserable because it’s not the real me.

Even on calls or meetings – if someone makes a joke and nobody responds I feel forced to force a giggle, or silence to somebody’s request for ideas, I will eventually jump in just to offer something.

So maybe I bring it on myself.

Sure, I get that for people who know me a little better. But strangers? I’m baffled, what truly can it be?

Any ideas anyone?
[I say, already doubting a response because after all you’ll all be waiting for me to fill the gap and silence right?]

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