So, in my last post, we were talking about my old teacher’s conviction that everyone is special at something. It brought to mind a story a friend of mine told me about his brother.
I met Tom Wilson through cricket. He is friendly, sociable and gregarious. Good player too. The story he told me was about his brother, Robert, about whom his family were most concerned.
Robert didn’t like cricket (which is certainly a concern). In fact, he didn’t like any sport at all. He didn’t like reading. He didn’t like music. He didn’t like art. He didn’t like pubs. Robert didn’t like anything. He just sat in his room all day looking at the ceiling. It was a struggle for the family to coax him downstairs to eat or watch TV.
For his twenty-first birthday, Robert’s godfather gave him a present – an expensive, extensive personality assessment and career guidance course.
Robert was asked to complete various forms and answer penetrative personal questions. He was interrogated by a psychologist. He was analysed by an analyst. He was invited to practice the art of conversation. He was monitored in social situations. He was even watched secretly through a two-way mirror having a meal with a group of carefully selected friends and family.
He was taken apart.
At the end of the week, he was summoned by the head honcho to receive his verdict.
‘Mr Wilson, we have assessed you and your character from every angle. We have watched you. We have talked to you. Unfortunately, we have not been able to listen to you because, quite frankly, you have nothing to say. You are without doubt the most boring, lifeless, insignificant person we have ever had on this course.’
Tears formed behind Robert’s glasses, trickled down his cheeks and dropped onto his creased, ill-fitting trousers. No one has felt more useless.
‘You do not care about other people. You never ask them questions. You show no interest in their lives. You never look people in the eye. You are completely unobtrusive. No one notices you in a room. No one even remembers you have been there. You are a total nobody.’
As his shoulders collapsed and his heart bled, Robert’s tears turned to sobs and he drew from his pocket a grotty, grey handkerchief which he wiped across his face and smeared over his misted glasses.
‘And these are the perfect qualities for a private detective.’
Robert looked up. And he smiled. And, now, this is what he does. And he is very successful.
For Robert is a very special person.
With a very special talent.