How Mark Changed My Life

Mark just looked like a success.

He was 6 feet tall, in his forties, with neatly trimmed dark hair and salt & pepper goatee at all times. He always had pressed dress shirts, dark slacks or jeans (maybe it was casual Fridays when he wore jeans), and unnaturally white teeth.

But the most important thing about Mark? 

He was always in a good mood. 

People were happy to see him. If you had chill plans that night and got invited to a party with 20 people you hate, but MARK was going? Oh, look at that; you have time in your schedule all of a sudden.

“You’re always reading something, man.”

“Oh, I just do this so smart girls will talk to me. I can’t read.” I said back to him, and he laughed.

“Do you ever read non-fiction?”

I pretended to think about it…” A long, long time ago,” I said…. “in a galaxy far, far away… sorry, I blacked out; what were you saying.” 

We chuckled, and I said, “Nah, man, I just read to cover up the dumb jock trail. Fantasy is it for me.”

Mark laughed and said, “You pretend, but you’re smart, dude. Do you know how I know? You’re funny. And you have to be smart to make people laugh.”

…”Is this dude hitting on me?” I thought. Strangers are not just nice to me. “Look out, Jeff! He’s going to try to sell you a timeshare in Flori-Bama!”

“Well, if you decide to give it a shot, I’ll bring you my copy of my favorite non-fiction book.”

Wait a minute. This guy is offering HIS copy of his favorite book. Readers, that is a big deal. I give away every book I read EXCEPT my favorites. Giving someone your FAVORITE book is like saying, “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s a part of my soul that no one sees; read it, maybe?”

“Yeah, I’ll let you know,” I said.

I didn’t say bye to mark on his way out that day. Instead, I said, “Yo… I’ll take it!”

A couple of days later, Mark shows up with a worn-out paperback copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” By Dale Carnegie. 

I don’t know about you, but, to me, that was THE WORLD “S DOUCHIEST TITLE for a book ever. They could have just said, “Let’s Go Manipulate Folks!” 

“Wait, no. This is what I do.” My thoughts went. “Something goes against my reject/loser ideas, and I paint it stupid or bad.” It wasn’t making Mark’s life any worse. So why not give it a shot? **Pride slowly creeps up my esophagus** **Brain… Fighting… for air, But immaturity and impure thoughts every seven seconds strangling it** “Uggghh,” I thought, “If I hate it, I’ll just burn it and say I lost it.”

Mark leaves, and I start page one. And I kept turning page after page.  

What witchcraft is this book?! It was listing out everything I envied about other people’s lives. Things that made me think, “I’d do that if I was rich, or if I had everything going for me like them.” 

But I had it backward. Those people looked like they had everything going for them BECAUSE They were doing those things.

  1.  Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.

“Why not do that?” I thought. “I’m not doing shit else with my time, and I see the same people every day and don’t know anything about them. If it doesn’t work, I’ll have disproved this power of positive thinking, B.S.”

I planned to stop everyone with a broken keycard at the front desk to fix their keycard for them. I had to have learned twenty names on the first day. Then I started to run out of people’s keycards to fix. So, I asked them to add their picture to their profile on the computer. 

I remembered people, but more astonishingly, people remembered me. I loved hearing people say, “Hey Jeff!” when they came in. And I’d have an actual conversation with them

  1. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  2. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
  3. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

I genuinely started to like people once they would talk to me. Pretty soon, I think I knew 500 people’s names in the gym. New people would mistake me for “Owner Jeff.”

In my best Stoner-Turtle voice, “Please, Owner Jeff is my Father. Not really, I’m just regular Jeff.”

Because people trusted me, I’d get asked for help with machines or their nutrition, and pretty soon, I was a well-paid personal trainer. Then, I had a full schedule of clients in less than a year. Then, I bought a Mercedes and good clothes for myself for once. I finally had everything going for me. And I shit you not; I got promoted to the Manager of the Gym.

Just as everything was looking up,

The gym closed. 

And just like that, I was now out of a job.

This post has gotten wordy again. So I’ll wrap it all up tomorrow. 

For now,

Have you ever thought, “If I were fit or rich, I would do the things fit or rich people do,” when there’s a possibility that those people are that way because they do things that fit or rich people do? 

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with the final (hopefully shorter) conclusion of Once-sky-high-now-jobless-Jeff.

-J

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