If there is one thing that I would like to leave when a new animal takes over the reins of the New Year, it would be the small-minded people that flourish like the fungi on week-old leftovers in my refrigerator. They should exit alone with the retiring zodiac sign and the negative energy that enveloped the previous year. Sadly, like the weeds that perennially grow in the garden, they still make their presence felt greatly no matter how hard you try to ignore them.
It could have been, on my part, naivety vis-à-vis people with small minds. I thought that I had left them behind when I packed my bags for a new home but I was mistaken. Lurking around the corner was this gargantuan yet small-minded person, which caught off guard. I had no beef with him at first until his myopic perspective reared its ugly head. It was hilariously annoying to learn that he was chafing at the collar when information reached him that my party list excluded his presence. We’re far from friends, and he can’t claim ignorance on that fact, so there was no point in going through the rigmarole of inviting him out of politeness. We simply couldn’t be in the same room socially and I wasn’t about to pretend that we were friends. We can occupy the same room and breathe the same air professionally although, admittedly, I would prefer that we didn’t.
Memories of past encounters with his ilk flood my senses every time I’d find myself in the same space as him. There was this diva-wannabe who had no qualms in using people – she’d dropped them like hot potatoes after she got what she wanted. There was this former university classmate who turned on the charm when he needed help with a paper and forgot you once the paper was handed to the teacher. Who could forget the stories of rank-and-file employees who’d carry on with their little wars in the hope of coveting the bigger cubicle or the dubious honour of bringing the files to the big boss to be signed?
Small-mindedness, in my book, is pardonable in elementary kids who have yet to enter the grey areas of their black-and-white worlds. It’s partially pardonable in teenagers who, lamentably, are negotiating the excruciating world of raging hormones and transitioning from gaucheness to adulthood. Hope still wafts through the air that they can still exhibit good behaviour in their later years. More so, the unsteady emotional quotient can be tweaked so these gawky adolescents can learn to adjust their narcissism gauge and be gracious, considerate individuals who don’t stomp off in a huff whenever something doesn’t go their way. I still have confidence in the universe that these high school students who bully or throw tantrums can be taught on how to better handle their emotions and understand the workings of the world around them.
It’s a different matter, however, altogether for adults who, at this point, should have a tighter grip on their emotions having transitioned from adolescent to adulthood. But that’s the misconception because some adults never successfully transition into the mature world of adulthood. They got left behind to wallow in their pettiness, narrow-mindedness and puerile behaviour.
How does one deal with them? I remember the aphorism “you can’t teach old dog new tricks” when I am faced with this question vis-à-vis small minded people. There’s no way to go but to ignore them. I pay no attention to them when we’re occupying the same space and make it clear politely that there is no way we’re engaging in idle chat. There’s no backbiting or name calling because that would be stooping to their level of infantile thinking. Pretending that they were apparitions floating through the corridors doesn’t work either because that would be acknowledging their existence. Bottom line: I recognise the fact that they’re small-minded people I don’t have time for.