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At school I was described as "shy and retiring, something of a loner". I was not very gregarious. Those of you that know me from work will not recognise the first, but perhaps the second. I still don't particularly like pubs and other large social gatherings. Some places I have worked, it was de rigueur to go to the pub after work, sometimes once a week, but other times more frequently. This allows you to join the inner sanctum, become one of the favoured few, thereby progressing. Sometimes there is also a cost, other than that of the drinks, including alcohol dependency, missing out on children growing up, strained relationships, divorce, as well as health issues, and some questionable work practices. Fortunately, I avoided most of the down side, by not attending. Frequently quoting the  railway's zero tolerance, and random testing for alcohol, and other substances in the blood. As an aside, it still amazes me how many people in the railway industry post on social media what a wonderful time they are having at, such and such a place, which could lead you to surmise, that they may be imbibing in alcohol consumption in a timeframe which if the case, would result in them still having some alcohol in their blood at work. It is an interesting risk, as failure of a test is instant dismissal and banned from the industry for life. A severe consequence for going out and posting on line. They could of course not be drinking alcohol, just having a good time.

 I of course missed out on the benefits as well. On the occasions I could get into the inner circle, I would falter, in part due to not being a social animal.

Going back to that shy disposition, that may be unrecognisable. Well, sometimes it was noticed. I was asked to apply to a Company for a particular roll, and was almost through the door, until the final hurdle, HR involvement. A mere formality apparently. Not so. A psychometric test reviled something I already knew, I was not gregarious. According to HR philosophy, if you were not gregarious you could not led people, and the role required people skills. I argued, that that difference, not to my mind a failing, could be managed. Not accepted by HR, and the offer was withdrawn.

I now have another reason not to go to the pub, not just like or dislike, but I have trouble hearing in situations with a high background noise. It is a recognised condition apparently. It does make conversation difficult and can lead to some confusion, if I guess what was said incorrectly, and therefore reply inappropriately. Even just a no, when a yes was what was expected. Then, through the whole misheard routine.

Easier to avoid, and enjoy smaller gatherings, in a more controlled environment.

The rest of the work time, with the non shy me, is just an act, or shall I say a compensation. An adjustment necessitated for progression in my chosen career. 

Another element of my character that was not always beneficial is a tendency to be deferential. To seniors, to elders, to status. Now, to me that is just correct and respectful. However, it is not always considered an attribute in a work environment. Another layer of compensation, not alway correctly applied.

I recall a meeting at Crossrail. One of those that require some introductions and team building before getting on to the meat of the meeting. Round the table, name, role, brief introduction and a secret about yourself that nobody it the room was likely to know. So not state secrets, or indiscretions, but something perhaps a little personal, perhaps one time you fell off a horse, or hit a hole in one at golf.

Mine was that one day I had lunch with a Prime Minister and dinner with Royalty, and for emphasis, on the same day. I went on to explain that they were private meetings, not public events. Some people at the meeting were very conscious of who you know, not what you know, so my personal rating had just shot up. I did not let it linger too long, but savoured the moment. Lunch was a private meeting between my travelling partner and myself and the Prime Minister of Nepal and the Governor of the Bank of Nepal. We frequently dined with one of the Princes at the restaurant we generally attended. Other times it could be with Government officials. We knew the Chief of Police for Kathmandu, and the Chief of Police for Nepal because of the same restaurant. On this particular day we dined with the Prince at his residence.

Not British Prime Minister or Royalty, so my personal rating fell back to normal instantly, or did it bounce lower?

My basic predisposition to an introverted nature still persists. On cruises we would rather wait longer for dinner than share a table. Sharing involves social intercourse and niceties. It feels like work, which now that we are retired, is no longer required. However, in less formal and fixed situations, the same conversations, can be pleasant. In hotels, we can check in and then become anonymous and invisible, we can just come and go as we please with no unnecessary interaction.

However, on our last holiday, we stayed at a couple of guest houses and ate at a hotel restaurant, more than once. Conversations were struct up. Not forced or difficult. Pleasant in fact. Might try that again. Also, in the North of England and Scotland, people talk to you when you are out and about or walking. Very strange behaviour. Again, pleasant. 

Perhaps retirement has mellowed me, in some ways.

Other words and phrases from my school report, as a word cloud.

Word Art

 Slow is a repeated theme, and they were not wrong. Slow in homework, examinations, and latterly IQ tests. All involve an element of time. Slow in work as well, but that I compensated for, with a combination of working smarter, and longer hours. So slow has its disadvantages, but is not always a bad thing if combined with quality and accuracy, right first time. 


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