Ferrari Guy (Compliments, part 4)

Pretty much everyone who drives a Ferrari is an asshole.

I can only imagine the little shriveled-up penises that drove these guys to make that purchase. But as I pulled up beside a stereotypical Ferrari owner (fat, bald, old), I suddenly started feeling sorry for him. I mean, all he wants is for people to admire him. Maybe have a few hot girls initiate a three-way. But mostly it’s just about someone–anyone–telling him, “You made it, Irwin. You are cool.”

So I decided to kill two birds with one stone and compliment a Ferrari driver on how nice his car is. I rolled down my window and yelled, “Hey, man, sweet ride!”

He just looked over at me, checked me for sincerity, then just nodded. A little hint of a self-satisfied smirk. But mostly just the nod. Like, “I know. But thanks for saying so anyway.”

The light turned green and he peeled out, as required by the unwritten rule of the road that says the nicer car goes first.

I have mixed feelings about this one. I drove off wondering whether it was wrong to fuel his pathetic but fragile ego like that.

Compliments, part 3

1. To the guy at the ticket booth in the garage: “Hey, great song. Who’s that you’re listening to?” Turns out it was Shakira. Don’t get me wrong, I know who Shakira is, but I have to honestly say I’ve never heard a single thing she’s done.

Her music is just not on my pre-sets. But it was all right, I guess. Anyway, he looked at me like I was dumb for not knowing.

2. To the (heavy) woman picking out apples at Whole Foods: “Hey, I love your earrings.” Her response was basically, “Are you talking to me?” but after the initial shock of a stranger talking to her, she smiled and said, “Thanks.” I wish I could convey how blown away she was by this simple little thing.

Bao Guy Redux (Compliments, part 2)

I saw Bao Guy (Scott) at lunch yesterday and decided to count him as one of my compliments for the day (I know, he’s not really a stranger, but I saw him, so what the hell).

I had seen a short he did on YouTube (he forwarded me the link after I saw him last time) so I had something nice to say.

“Hey, what’s up, man. I saw that video. You were great in it.” He actually was pretty funny in it, even if the video itself looked like it was shot by a retarded monkey with cerebral palsy.

He really appreciated the compliment. And guess what? He invited me to a party at the director’s house this weekend. I played it cool, but I was actually pretty stoked. I just hope the director isn’t the one mixing the drinks.

Compliments, part 1

1. As I step into the elevator to the only guy in there: “Hey! Nice tie!”

Guy’s confused response: “Huh? Oh. Thanks.”

Awkward elevator ride ensues.

2. On the phone to woman in H.R. in New York office whom I’ve never met: “Wow, you’ve got a great voice. You should be in radio.”

Her response: “You are so sweet. You know, I used to be a cabaret singer.”

We talked about that for three minutes before she told me where I could find the personnel transfer form (I’m not transferring out, someone is transferring into my department).

3. To the guy at dry cleaners (not Ramon): “I love your watch, man. Is that a Rolex?”

His response: “Thanks, no, it’s a TAG Heuer.”

I listened to him talk about all the features but I kept thinking does anyone really ever use the timer and stopwatch features on a watch when you can just use the ones on your phone?

All in all, Monday was pretty successful. Still, it’s hard to pull off not looking like a psychopath complimenting someone’s tie in a closed elevator.

My Plan for This Week

I’ve been feeling good about Sandwich Lady all day. So I’m going to try to compliment people again. I don’t anticipate these being long conversations. I need to say something nice and get out before they get suspicious and think I want something. A drive-by love-bomb, if you will. I’m shooting for ten compliments by week’s end.

Sandwich Lady

Got a sandwich at Ralphs for lunch just now. (P.S. It’s much better than most sandwich shops and they slice the meat right in front of you.) So I got this older lady and ordered my sandwich and she starts making it. But first she examined every piece of lettuce there was, then picked the best one. Same with the tomatoes. Only the best for my sandwich. The turkey was lovingly laid in overlapping layers for maximum airflow…

I was mesmerized. I am a sandwich aficionado–I could eat sandwiches for literally every meal–and so I really, really appreciated her care and expertise. So I told her so.

“I like the way you’re making my sandwich!”

She laughed. I needed to prove I was sincere so I added, “I see the way you’re doing the turkey. I hate those people who just slap down all the slices together. Might as well not slice it at all.”

She agreed and said basically there’s no reason not to make the sandwich as well as possible. She makes them like she’d want it for herself. We discussed the finer details of sandwich making and then I told her that I really appreciated her attention to detail and that I bet a lot of other people did as well, even if they didn’t say so.

Anyway, I think I pretty much made her day. She was beaming when she rang me up.

And then I went home and ate my sandwich.

The Cop

Okay, so check this out. I’m grabbing lunch at Baja Fresh on San Vicente and I see a cop having lunch by himself. He’s in uniform and all but he’s eating alone. So I go up to him and I say, “Hey, don’t mean to bother you while you’re eating, I just wanted to say I really appreciate what you do.”

He looks up at me with a big mouth full of Dos Manos burrito and says, “Excuse me?”

I explain, “I’m just saying I appreciate you putting yourself out there every day to keep people like me safe. I just thought you might like to hear what people are thinking.”

And then he says, and here’s the twist, ready for it?…

“Can I see some I.D.?”

Seriously. Can I see some I.D.

Like I’d have to be on crystal meth to say something nice to a cop. No wonder everyone hates cops.

Day One Off to a Rocky Start

Couldn’t sleep last night. I was really fired up by this new idea. This new approach to life. I kept imagining this totally different person who likes people and who people like in return. Like the guy who sits next to you on an airplane and by the end of the trip you’re invited to his family reunion.

So at first I was too excited to sleep, thinking about this new me and how much I liked the idea of him.

But then of course my mind shifted to the work involved in getting from here to there. How exactly am I going to pull this off? What am I going to say to all these people? So then I couldn’t sleep because I was getting nervous about the project. What if I fail?

One good thing about not sleeping all night was that I think I narrowed down the types of things to say to strangers–the ice breakers–to (1) compliments; (2) observations; and (3) small talk.

I figured who doesn’t like to hear something nice from a stranger? If someone passed me in the street and said, “Hey, nice shirt!” I’d probably be pretty happy. Or at least smile.

Observations would have to be contextual. Like if I was waiting in line at Subway, I could be like, “Whoa, look at that Jared poster. I wonder if he ever could have imagined that eating some turkey sandwiches would become his life’s career.” I have to try to avoid sounding like Seinfeld here, but I think I could pull it off.

Small talk is I think the backup plan if I can’t think of anything. People actually don’t mind talking about the weather. Too bad it’s always the same in L.A. or else I could be the guy who says, “Hot enough for you?”

Anyway, armed with a plan, or at least a few ideas, I called my friend Paul. (Didn’t mean to give you the impression that I have no friends in my last post. Paul and I went to high school together back east. We weren’t really friends back then, but we hang out sometimes now because, I don’t know, we went to high school together.)

Anyway, I needed to tell someone about the Project and so we met up for lunch at the R&D Cafe on Montana. I got there early but I didn’t have any change for the meter. I asked the hostess if I could get change and she told me to get it from the bartender.

I went over to the bartender who was only a couple feet away. She had already heard that I needed change so she just looked up at me and asked how much I needed.

But in that second that she looked up, I saw these piercing blue eyes. Not the dull slate-blue kind, but the bright, deep blue kind that look like crystals. Or gemstones.

I’m not saying that it was like I was suddenly staring at a supermodel. Or that I was transfixed or dazed. She was pretty but it’s not like she was a model or anything. I’m just saying she had really nice eyes.

So, fueled by my new approach to life, I made an instant executive decision to say something. You know, talk to strangers.

So I just said what I was thinking. I said, “Wow, you have really pretty eyes!”

Her reaction was not what I had hoped for. She just kind of looked away and muttered, “Uh, thanks.” Like I was creeping her out. She gave me the quarters and I left.

On the way back to the parking meter, I started to turn red, getting embarrassed. How had I screwed up on my very first attempt? My mind was racing. Am I actually a creepy guy? I was totally not hitting on her. I wasn’t trying to get her phone number or using some line. It was an honest reaction. An excited utterance. I was just trying to say something nice. How could she have taken it differently?

I got all self conscious. Like I’m not good enough looking to compliment a pretty girl.

I went back in, avoided the bartender, and sat down. When Paul showed up I explained the whole Project and how I totally failed on my very first sentence.

Then he said something that really made sense. His theory was that pretty girls get hit on all the time. People are always complimenting them. Especially hot bartenders whose job it is to constantly talk to guys. So complimenting her on the way she looks was the wrong thing to say.

If I had said, “Wow, you’re really good at juggling,” (in this scenario she’s juggling something) she would have been more receptive (at least according to Paul). In other words, it’s okay to compliment hot girls, but just not on their hotness.

It makes sense. It’s not like the hot girl did anything to be hot. And people like to be complimented on their actions or choices or cleverness, not their genes. I guess that’s why basketball players get annoyed if you say, “Wow, you’re really tall.”

So the lesson for today is: complimenting people is still a good and valid approach to talking to strangers. Even hot girls. But I have to be smarter and quicker or at least more observant to figure out what it is about this person that they actually had something to do with that’s worth complimenting.

Seems like a lot of work but I still think I’m up for the challenge.

P.S. Paul thinks the Project is a great idea.