Hot E-Book

Posted: June 21, 2010 in humor, Life
Tags: ,

Sitting near the back of the bus, I had a clear view of the girl, as she sat at the front.  Her face was as busy as it gets, as she thought through various possibilities, reactions, memories and events.  It was hard not to smile.  She was doing what I do – her mind was processing at a mile a minute and the results were clear on her face, as she frowned, smiled slightly, turned her eyebrows into questions.

It was disappointing to see her get off of the bus early.  I would have loved to have had a chance to chat with her.

The ability to read people is both a blessing and a curse.

The curse involves knowing all the possible responses to a suggestion or idea ahead of time, and knowing that you have to incorporate all that knowledge to mitigate those responses.  It’s trying, and tiresome.  Once you read someone, you can’t unread them.  It doesn’t work that way.

You have an idea for a project, but it’s going to cost money.   The people you have to sell this to are your colleagues.  People you’ve read over the last few months.  So you know going into it that Alex won’t commit unless he knows every last little detail.  He is uncomfortable with surprises, and is the one person in the group who is least risk-tolerant.

Jamie will enthusiastically endorse your idea, until someone else disagrees, and then she’ll back down and reconsider.  She just wants to be loved, validated.  She’s protective of her self-esteem that way.

Eric will reserve judgement until upper management has spoken, and then he’ll go for whatever they think.  If they approve, then he’ll approve and he’ll step in, willing to lend a hand to make it a success.  If they don’t approve, he’ll provide a white paper, outlining the pros and cons – while making sure the latter outweigh the former – and then conclude it was a great idea, but not to be.  Eric is upwardly mobile.  His agenda isn’t yours.  It’s not even his bosses’ agenda.  He only knows one word: up.

Pamela is there to work.  And anything that can make the job easier or more fun is something she’ll get on board with.  She has no room for boring people, or people who will bog down the process.  She and Alex are passive-aggressive mortal enemies.  She’s also your best supporter.

So you have to form your idea carefully, making sure there’s something in there that will cater to all personalities.  You believe in your idea, so you’re willing to spend the effort.  You don’t have all the details but you bow to Jim’s need by offering to set up a working group to iron out the nitty-gritty stuff.   You ignore Jamie for the moment.  You make sure your idea has enough buzzwords to satisfy management (thereby satisfying Eric) and you bring Pamela onside as a co-sponsor.  And you do this in a short meeting so that she won’t lose interest too quickly.

It’s a tough deal, but fun once you understand it.

The blessing is that you get an instinct for what will resonate with people in real life (in the blogging world, not so much).   You know what that girl you’re into really likes, and you find inventive ways to show her your appreciation.   And then she rewards you in a brilliant way. 

It’s an ability, this being able to read people, that you know can be misused.  It can be used to manipulate, and you’re so completely aware of this that you take steps to be as transparent and as sincere as you can be.  After all, you have to look at yourself in the mirror every day.

Sometimes, the gift can make you a little crazy.

Like the other day, when I read an email response from someone on Craigslist who wanted to buy my e-reader.  We had dickered back and forth, finally agreeing on a price.  In one of her emails, she had said “but I can buy it quickly, and take it off of your hands” – a ploy she used to ask me to lower the price.  Or so I thought.

Once we agreed, she replied back “Ok I shall ask a friend of mine to meet you at a coffee shop.  He’ll be wearing an old black cap”.


No one in Canada uses “shall” unless they’re old-school British patriots.   So I made the (correct) assumption that for this person, English was not her first language.

I replied back.  “Ok done deal.  What’s your friend’s first name?”   I really didn’t want to go with “hey you”.   And I understand the valid paranoia of the internet, which is why I didn’t ask for his last name.

Her response:  “oh you won’t miss him.”

I shrugged.  She was paranoid.

Later that day at the coffee shop, an Asian gentleman walked up to me, tentatively, and said “e-book?”

I started to rise from my seat.  “Yes.  I have it here.”

He said “ok I’ll get the money” and with that he scurried off to another section of the coffee shop.

Then he brought out the cash and quickly laid it all out on the table, instead of into my hand.   I started to explain about the attachments, and the website you could go to, to download the software for it, but his nervousness grew.  I could tell in reading him that he wasn’t interested in any of the details.  He just wanted the transaction over and done with.

“It works, yes?”

I nodded.  “It works.”

He nodded, grabbed the e-book reader and scurried away again.

This behaviour puzzled me until later that night, when I finally had my “A-HA!” moment.

He wasn’t being anti-social, and neither was his girlfriend.

They thought they were dealing with a black-market guy; a guy who sold stuff from off the back of his truck; stuff that had fallen off of *other* trucks.  He thought the e-book I was selling him was “hot”.

If I wasn’t working for The Family, then maybe I was a narc, and that’s why I wanted the guy’s first name.  Start there, and work out exactly who I was dealing with.

I laughed.

It was entertaining, if nothing else. 

And in the end, it didn’t matter.  He got what he wanted, as did I.

  1. Abe's Blog says:

    Guido. Got yer hot iPods right here. Heh heh.

    I think your gift is great. I think you may also have “empathy”. As far as I can tell, empathy is just being in tune to other’s feelings and reactions, instead of focusing purely on your own. This is a gift, my friend. And yes, it is a powerful thing. But I can definitely see how this is a curse. You and I have many things in common, and this is one of them. I am sure you have experienced the annoying predicament of being able to “read” someone in a way that is contrary to the way they present themselves, which is contrary to how everyone else reads them as well.


    • YES! I have seen thinks like this – and you’ve just shown me in spades that you’ve got it too. :)

      Don’t know if you’ll remember this but I broke up with a woman I was dating – and the reason had everything to do with this ability to read people. She hadn’t told me she was married but during one of our dates, she had this unique look on her face, and I said “tell me what you’re thinking. You look like you’re married with six kids or something.” I remember how white her face went as she stared at me and then said “well I don’t have any kids….”

      Actually the reason we broke up had nothing do with the ability to read – that ability merely enabled the knowledge that led to it. You know what I mean.


  2. contoveros says:

    I can’t read people well, but I try to be as transparent about my motives as possible. A great percentage of the time it is for a good purpose, and not a selfish one. (Not to say you can’t mix the two together sometimes).

    Funny how you were able to tell the woman was not levelling with you about marriage. Why lie about something when the truth would not turn a person off, but endear them more to you?

    So, what were you going to do with the woman who entered the bus and what do you think she was thinking while you were thinking?

    Just thinking about it.

    michael j


    • Hmm. in the case of the married woman, I think her fear was legitimate. I would never have gone out with her at all, had she told me she was currently married.

      The woman on the bus? That’s a cool provocative question Michael. I think (if she’s anything like me) she was anticipating an upcoming confrontation and was busy working out the point-by-point details in her mind. She was actually having the conversation, and anticipating the probably responses and coming up with her reactions to those. It was actualy delightful to see.

      Knowing that she was likely unaware of the multiple expressions her face was providing, I would have struck up a conversation with her, and eventually we would have gotten around to talking about it. Sort of in an “I do this. Do you?” sort of way.


  3. carmenlezeth says:

    Wolfie — oh, how I envy thee!

    As much as I truly believe I’m an excellent judge of character, I certainly can’t read people immediately and more times than not I’m completely surprised by some folk. Abe’s right: its is a gift! (you have so many briliant gifts though Wolfie, I’m not surprised at all!)

    And isn’t it fascinating that we are all so suspicious of each other. With all this technology and communication I thought we were supposed to become closer as a world and such? More information and communication would bring us together, right? Actually, I think technology has made us more afraid of each other — we just get to experience it more often and for many more reasons. I hope they enjoy the e-book and realize it wasn’t hot. And maybe somehow they figured out that not everyone’s trying to scam someone.

    Well, I can dream, right?

    Carmen ;)


    • It would be good if they could realize that, for sure. In thinking about it some more, I have a suspicion that they were quite aware of the ever-present Triad syndicate presence which seems to thrive in Toronto, and were likely thinking that they were dealing with someone from that Fine Organization. :)

      One thing about this “reading” business – sometime it would be great just to turn it off and react without processing body language and micro-expressions first. But …it’s sort of automatic. Ah well. I guess there’s two sides to every coin, isn’t there?

      I should have mentioned: there are some people who for me are impossible to read. I find them very fascinating. Usually, those people are either as I am, or they are at least hyper self-aware.

      I imagine it would be tough to read a psychopath as well. Thank God I don’t think I’ve ever had to find out. :)


  4. Helen T says:

    Hi Wolf,
    Your ability to read people is a gift.
    I just want to tell you, ‘Be careful’. Once you can be mistaken.
    The man I loved were so suspicious of me. I was honest with him but he thought he knew me better than I did. I was so tired trying to convince him. He was so proud by himself and didn’t want to understand me. It was painful. Sometimes hurtful. I could do nothing with him.
    I prefer give people opportunity to be better than they got used to be. Sorry, my English is not good enough. I hope you understand me.
    Give people chance not to me labeled. You will be surprised.


    • Oh yes. I’ve had lots of experience with this, with my share of mistakes as well. I’m usually the first one who wants to give the benefit of the doubt to anyone – it’s how I wanted to be treated, so I figure most people want to be treated the same way.

      However there are times when you just *know* something, beyond any doubt. The first time was when a guy came to pick up one of my sisters for a date. I was a teen at the time, so wasn’t prepared for the visceral gut reaction that I had when I met him at the door. He was polite and everything but something inside just said “danger”. I put on my hardest face and said nothing to him. Just stared. (I had no idea why I was doing it either. I remember there wasn’t any rhyme or reason to it.)

      Wasn’t until years later my sister told me he had tried to rape her.


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