If there’s one thing patently obvious in this world, it’s that we all crave attention. From the instant we’re yanked off the teet we spend the rest of our lives trying in some form to recapture that lost sense of importance. Some people chase cultural relevance, others seek it through their careers either by suckling the nethers of their superiors until it pays off in the form of attention or a promotion, or, by stripping. I, for one, satisfy my need to be noticed by fostering a symbiotic relationship with my pets and my partners where we all equally give and crave affection. There are plenty of avenues to channel your desire for attention such as creating something, cultivating good and numerous friendships, or community service. Where it gets to be a problem is when the dissatisfaction of one’s neediness becomes so great they take to destructive methods to release it. While your average name dropper isn’t on the same level of destructive attention seeking as say a stalking ex or a kidnapper, they do still mar civil society with their incessant insistence of their existence upon the world. That’s why Mr. Do You Know Who I Am is this week’s That Guy.
We’ve all at one point or another been guilty of letting something go to our head. Maybe we got made line leader in elementary school and started accepting indulgences like a Catholic Bishop. We could’ve also ruled a birthday party like an African dictatorship one year or two. But to be a “Do you know who I am,” to really take occasional arrogance and turn it into a character trait borne of existential insecurity, one has to be able to expect special treatment in the most unlikely of environments. Take the guy I stood in line behind at Whataburger last week. Before he ever opened his mouth he announced his status as run of the mill middle age douche through his several years too late haircut paired with an ill fitting golf polo and overpriced Reef sandals. True to his appearance he proceeded to shanghai the only teller in line like a Somali pirate by telling him “this was my first ever job, right here at this Whataburger. I was a manager. Can you believe that? Sixteen and I was a manager. They probably don’t allow managers to be that young now do they? How old are you, you’re still in high school right?”
For five minutes Mr Youngest Manager in the History of the World held the restaurant hostage with his self centered epic of his adolescent triumphs. When he finally finished and the poor teller was able to tell him the burger he ordered with double digit modifications and his
date’s escort’s three course breakfast (ordered 10mins before breakfast started) would set him back $25; the look on his face was almost worth hearing his subconscious admittance that his life peaked before he was old enough to buy booze. He paused, the failure of his name to act as the vault combo he just knows it should be reeling him for but a moment, before he rebounded with “damn, it’s too bad there’s no ex employee special huh, that’s the one downside about growing up and getting a real job, no more discounts. But I guess that’s why you make the big bucks right?”
That fundamental belief in divine favorability is what separates the do you know who I am guys from those of us that enjoy a tall tale every now and then. A do you know who I am guy not only inflates his sense of self, he begrudges the world that he even has to do it in the first place. That guy’s Whataburger story wasn’t told because he genuinely thought a teenager wants to know what summer job he had before the kid was even born; it was told because he’s upset he wasn’t recognized and rushed to the VIP section of the restaurant the instant he walked in. It’s his way of saying “I’ll allow it this time, but don’t let it happen again.”
Unfortunately, our society enables and often encourages this behavior. Social media allows a do you know who I am guy to tailor his online presence into a fortification of his belief in his existence as omniscient. Additionally, the recent retail trend of providing the customer with their happy ending as soon as they walk in the door lets a do you know who I am guy take that corporately desired “make the customer feel special,” reaction and exaggerate it to “they’re doing all this for me. I’m the only one who gets this.” Little do they know somebody directly in line before them with a bigger ego got the exact same treatment. We need to recognize our role in fostering a sustainable environment for this kind of arrogance and snuff it out wherever it exists. When you run into someone trying to swing weight remind them there are 7 billion people on this planet. A number they can’t even comprehend, they’ll never see, they’ll never count to a half of a percent of exists in the form of people on this planet. Let them know no matter how hard they try they’ll never outrun someone who will always have more, who will always be richer, better looking, work a better job, whatever it is they’re trying to big dog, someone, somewhere on the planet is currently beating them at it. We all have to share this space, don’t make it any more insufferable than it already is by trying to pull the orbit of the Earth from around the Sun to your selfish life.