What happens when I come into the room?
I was asked recently to pen a thought piece based around the subject of the question above. The photos are not correlated to the article, just intended to break up the text.
Although, very much aware that I have no realisation; no yardstick if you will in which to measure the ‘atmosphere’ or the ‘ambiance’ that might shift imperceptibly or otherwise due to my presence.
When I enter a room what happens? Depending on the room, the recipients of my presence and the time from which I was last in the presence of such recipients.
You may notice if you’re a cat owner, you’re return to the house after a days work that your pets on which you dote, will be largely ambivalent for your return.
Dogs on the other hand will be enraptured that their masters have entered the room and the energy in the room will be one of palpable excitement.
However, shorten that time frame. Imagine you leave the room for 2 minutes and return. The excitement level in your dog is diminished considerably. The refractory window is too short.
I transfer this notion of abstinence to humans.
I remember vividly having long periods away from my family when I went to Liverpool to study. We would always celebrate Christmas together.
One year I surprised my family by showing up a day earlier than planned. I warned only my Mum of my arrival. When I rang the doorbell I could just see through the blinds her sprinting to the door.
Physically sprinting. I don’t think I’d ever seen her run before. She was bursting to see me. When I walked into the room with my entire extended family there my Dad broke down in tears.
My prolonged absence from my family was deeply physiological. I felt like I had come home from a war.
As I’ve grown up I’ve learnt the importance of first impressions and on a spiritual level what impact my energy might have in a room. I spent a couple of years working behind the bar in my hometown called The Market Inn.
Everybody knew each others name. The locals all had their own special place at the bar. It no time at all I got to know everyone, what they drank. I’d pour their drink and have it in front of them before they sat down.
Some guys would arrive and light up the place. They’d come in like a whirlwind, drink and crack wise until your sides ache and leave within the hour. Others would outstay their welcome and stink up the place with negativity.
For example, I’d remember a guy called Sean (not real name) who was a bin man. The minute he entered the room I thought, ‘fuck, this guy’. His posture was slouched. He had no smiles for nobody.
The younger crowd that had started coming into the pub had made him irascible and more withdrawn.
Eventually I would get talking to Sean as I had a soft spot for the outsiders. Turned out he was a nice enough guy. Musician, talented.
We’d end up talking quite late into the night because he had this annoying habit of ordering 2 pints on last orders and taking an age to drink them. Some people are just better in small crowds.
They begrudge their loneliness, but lack any kind of grace or social skills. What Sean couldn’t do was fake his contempt for others. Immediately when he entered the room you sensed he was annoyed.
Sorry, long winded indulgent backstory.
But I am bringing it back round. I often think of Sean when I enter a room. I don’t think people really want to go to parties, award shows, networking events.
I think by human nature we all want to be in our caves, watching our boxsets eating a leg of chicken. In the year 2019 you can buy a 65″ cinema for under 800 GBP.
Without wanting to brag, my TV is bigger than my local restaurant that advertises exclusive weekend movie nights for their patrons.
I have a loving girlfriend and a close circle of friends, I’m in my 40’s and harbour little interest in making new ones.
I’m happy to make new associates and connections, but are content with my rolodex of true friends.
If others are like me they might think it’s antithetical to go to a party where you’ll only know the host and a few others, when really you want to be at home, snug, with your creature comforts.
But we can’t survive like this.
We have to be social. Which means every once in awhile I’ll be dragooned into going out. And when I enter a room of busy people, the first thing I do is wave to no-one at the back of the room.
It’s a trick I learnt in one of these generic self help books when I was in my 20’s and dislocated from any kind of confidence or self esteem that I wouldn’t develop until my mid-thirties.
By pretending to know someone in the room, others will immediately welcome you as ‘one of us’. By waving to the back of the room, no one suspects or can prove that you’re a fraud.
But what happens to the room when I arrive?
I’m constantly aware of my physicality. I’m 5’6 without heels, I have a large seat (big ass) and slim carriage and shoulders that tip forward unless I think to correct them.
I’m bald and in my 40’s. I sit in that unenviable sweet spot where guys see me as no physical threat, and girls see me as diminutive and average. If they see me at all.
I never bring a crappy attitude to a room. Unlike Dave, I have the ability to fake it.
I also remember distinctly a friend of mine giving me some great advice before I headed out on a date once. With one foot out the door, he called out, ‘Hey Pete, remember to at least try and have a good time.’
I take that mantra into every room.
Every meeting, every party. Now how one goes about having a good time is really up to them. Before I quit drinking that meant being the last man standing at every party.
It was a compendium of insecurities that would make me think the drunker I got, the better the time I’d have. Sometimes that was true, but often not. Very often not.
Now when I’m in a room of luminaries I often laugh at the guy that has drank too much and is becoming the wasp at the picnic.
It’s like rubber necking, slowing to see car crashes and having that immediate rush of relief. ‘Thank God that isn’t me anymore’.
I also never like to outstay my welcome. I’d remember all the great characters that would frequent the pub I worked at. Maybe I loved them because of how quickly they’d flit in and out of my life. Either way, always leave them wanting more as the thespians would say.