I think one of the most admirable traits in a person is patience and understanding. Unfortunately, this is something that I find quite difficult. Most would describe me as having quite a short fuse and I am opinionated and hopelessly stubborn at the best of times. Although I know it’s important to be patient and to keep an open mind, in reality, I just simply don’t have the energy to battle politely and calmly with difficult people and find that it’s easier just to snap and start shouting. I can’t speak for everyone but I think this is true for most people. It is always easier to shout when you are annoyed, especially when the other person is being unreasonable but there is one guy I know who I believe has the patience of a saint and we should all try and learn from him. I was inspired by his almost limitless capacity, his willingness to endure sometimes extreme behaviour and his ability to always try and understand people.
That man is a record producer who I happen to work with (let’s call him *Tom). His recording studio is next door to my little basement office and we occasionally exchange small talk about his pet cats and my rabbit every time we pass each other in the corridor to make a cup of tea. Anyway, he gets a lot of musicians coming and going everyday but none quite as memorable or crazy as Garlic and Vampire man.
I don’t really know Garlic and Vampire man’s story very well having only heard snippets from longer serving members of staff but what I do know for sure is that he’s not very well. He’s a bit mad and does things like blowing smoke through people’s letter boxes, rubbing garlic in his hair (to ward off vampires and witches), and carrying all sorts of weird stuff to rid himself of evil spirits…etc. Apparently, he used to be a famous dance artist but that was obviously quite a long time ago. He usually comes in twice or three times a week, stinking of garlic, raving about witches and dark spirits and maybe, JUST maybe, they might end up laying down a track.
I can hear everything that goes on in the studio live room because they keep the door open. Today, Garlic and Vampire man arrived with 2 flutes and a minidisk player, a broken hard drive and of course, a pocketful of garlic. *Tom, as usual, spent half an hour trying to explain to him that the computer hadn’t been working for the past 2 years and that they couldn’t access the internet to download what he needed. Completely unaffected by this, Garlic and Vampire man then continues to repeat himself until they actually start work. If you can call it work. From where I’m sitting, all I could hear is a high pitched falsetto singing the wrong lyrics to “Shape of my Heart”. It was torture.
A few days ago, I asked *Tom: “Why? Just why do you put up with it? Surely it can’t be worth any money to have to suffer the way you do? 3 times a week?”
He said: “That man isn’t well. Without these sessions, he’d be spending his money on other things like drugs and alcohol. What hope do you think he has when he gets up in the morning? He thinks he’s cursed! Imagine living your life like that.”
I replied, rather foolishly: “But surely what he needs is professional help? It can’t be good for your stress level either.”
“It’s because professional help can’t do certain things like check up on him, making sure he’s eating…etc. Yes, he’s difficult and I get frustrated a lot with him but I’d rather him come in 3 times a week so I can check he’s still breathing because nobody else gives a shit about him.”
What a genuinely wonderful, selfless human being.