There is a chronic condition raging through our population.
It is reaching epidemic proportions and is causing great concern to many.
There is no known treatment.
While not affecting the vast majority of the population, this condition appears to be somewhat discriminating in the selection of its victims and the vast majority of the population has nothing to fear.
The affliction, a short-term form of amnesia, appears to only affect those who possess a somewhat bloated opinion of themselves.
As I have often mentioned, my wife Gimalle and I live in a high-rise condominium in downtown Calgary.
Our property comprises two high-rise towers totaling some 230 suites and, by our estimate, has a population of around 500 people.
We have lived in our suite for nearly 11 years and for the last eight of those I have served as a member of the condominium board of directors.
As a board we have implemented policies and practices that we believe enhance the safety and security of the buildings for all our residents while at the same time outlining and enforcing codes of conduct and behaviour that we, in our best opinion, believe serve all who live there.
We have invested heavily in security technology, personnel and practices and have frequently been told by local law enforcement that our efforts have resulted in being the safest residential condominium property in our city.
A fact borne out by us being a virtually crime free property whereas neighbouring complexes all deal with several criminal break-ins on a monthly basis.
Like many such properties access can only be obtained through use of an access card or fob and visitors to the building must use the enter-phone system which will not only allow them into the building but also provide them elevator access only to the floor they are visiting.
Yesterday the Calgary Stampede – The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth – began its annual 10 day celebration with the customary parade which passes right in front of our property.
Many people invite their friends to watch the parade from their balconies and we have an unusually high number of visitors to our buildings on Stampede Parade Day each year.
In the past, less than desirable people have tried to use the cover of the Stampede Parade and the frenetic activity around such properties to blend in and gain access first to the properties themselves and the break into individual suites.
We do not relax our security protocols for any reason at any time and particularly during the stampede.
Yesterday, I was standing at the concierge desk for part of the parade as our concierge was busy around the property dealing with a few system malfunctions when a man entered the vestibule to use the interphone to notify a friend of his arrival.
Our interphone system can be connected to any telephone and this resident had selected his cell phone as the number to be called when a friend notifies him of their arrival.
At the time of his friend attempting to reach him he was either talking on the phone or his phone was turned off as I heard his voicemail greeting from the inside the lobby.
Ordinarily we do not allow people into our lobby until they are buzzed in or met by a friend but this person simply followed somebody else into a lobby and approached the desk. He told me he was unable to reach his friend and would I allow him access to the elevator.
I explained our policy to him and he then informed me, somewhat angrily, that if I thought he was a thief I could escort him up the elevator to his friend’s suite where his friend could identify him and set aside my obvious suspicions.
Again, I informed him that he needed to wait for his friend to respond and grant him access to the elevator.
At that moment the dreaded amnesic episode referred to above overcame him and in as angry and hostile a tone as one can imagine asked, “Do you know who I am?”
What made the question interesting was not its obvious arrogance but rather the fact that this was the third time this question had been posed to me in the past 48 hours.
On Wednesday as Gimalle and I were coming back from a brief walk we noticed a car driving onto our property and park in the only handicapped stall we have.
The car had no authorizing permit or decal and as a young man stepped out of the car and walked towards one of our buildings I pointed out that he was in the Handicapped stall.
He looked at me and used those words that seem to be universally accepted by those who think that explaining (and rationalizing) a wrongdoing makes it okay. He said, “I’m only going to be two minutes.”
This seems to be the default response used by all when asked why they are are parking in a prohibited zone.
I explained we have zero tolerance for the use of that stall by unpermitted vehicles and he would receive a $300 ticket if he did not move his vehicle immediately.
He looked at me as one does when addressing the village idiot and said, “You’re not listening, I told you I am only going to be two minutes.”
He then followed up with this brilliant utterance “Do you have any idea who I am?”
He told me he is a realtor and was showing a property which therefore made it quite okay and acceptable to park in that spot because clearly I was not bright enough to understand that the rules regarding parking and handicap stalls do not apply to realtors engaged in showing properties.
Any fool should’ve known that and I felt truly humbled by my ignorance.
He then called me an @$$hole.
I wish people who are determined to tell me about myself would at least provide me with new information and not repeat what I already know.
Our concierge had reported a similar conversation the previous day when he had denied access to a person demanding to be led into our building. He too had to spend valuable time helping a clearly confused soul discover who she is.
I love the question, “Do you know who I am?”
Over the years I’ve heard many clever responses such as “No sir (ma’am) I’m afraid I can’t help you with that.” Or “Has this been an ongoing problem for some time?” Or “Can I call someone to help you with this issue of not knowing who you are” but my absolute favourite response was one I heard several years ago while sitting in the departure lounge waiting to board a plane.
Some 30 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time a ticket agent announced that our flight, along with all flights, had been cancelled due to a snowstorm that had made the runways treacherous and visibility close to zero.
This was disappointing to all of us in the lounge and indeed to passengers throughout the airport. We all had places to go, people to see and were anxious to get to our destinations.
Unfortunately snowstorms choose their own times to invade and seem quite uncaring of the inconvenience to us.
It is what it is.
Seconds after the announcement I heard an angry voice from behind me proclaim, “That’s bull$#!+”, and a rather rotund man stormed up to the departure gate and informed the hapless ticket agent that this was completely unacceptable and insisted on speaking to this clearly incompetent persons supervisor.
After all, as was glaringly apparent to the rest of us, the ticket agent, all by himself, had brought about this massive snowstorm.
Not only was this man aggressive towards the ticket agent he was also insulting and finally, when the ticket agent for the hundredth time told him there was no supervisor available, this charming individual puffed up his chest and at the top of his voice asked that most ingenuous of all questions, “Do you know who I am?”
The ticket agent’s response has stuck with me ever since for its sheer brilliance. He stared directly at the passenger, shook his head and announced in a stage whisper that could be heard, I’m sure, throughout the entire airport “No sir, I have no idea who you are but I am getting a very strong impression of what you are.”
His response resulted in thunderous applause from those of us in that departure lounge and this pathetic little man slunk back to his seat like a child admonished by his peers for his pathetic behaviour.
I’ve never quite understood what compels people to ask that question but I suspect it’s the same mindset that gives them a sense of entitlement suggesting that the rules for the others do not apply to them.
The same entitlement that makes it okay to do things that are not okay e.g. parking, “for just two minutes,” in Handicapped spots.
Over the course of my life I, as have you, have met many were either blind to their actions or are so enamoured with their own self-importance that their inconsideration of others knows no bounds.
And so when this person in our lobby yesterday asked me if I knew who he was, the best I could think of at the time was to tell him that he was the person who was about to be escorted out of the building by our security guards.
He uttered some unintelligible comment and left.
Sure showed me.
To some, a sense of self-importance, overrides common sense and I’m indeed grateful to these people.
It is long been said that everyone brings great value to the world even if only to serve as a very good example of a very bad example.
Folks like those described above are marvellous teachers from whom we learn how not to be and those lessons are of such great importance that one cannot place a value upon them.
To all those who puff up their chest and ask the “Do you know who I am” question, I say “Thank you” for perfectly role modelling the very behaviours we need to avoid.
Till we read again.