In an episode of 30 Rock last season, Liz Lemon explained the concept of a beautiful person bubble. Basically, beautiful people are sheltered from criticism because everyone wants to be near them. They want to stare at them like a work of art. Due to this, beautiful people never develop a true sense of how they fit in society and live in a sheltered bubble.
I wholeheartedly agree with this concept. I think that it should be taught in school, like the Pythagorean Theorem or verb conjugation. Only I don’t think that Liz went far enough. I think bubbles extend to other social groups as well, particularly to athletes. An athlete could resemble a chemically burned rat, but praise and attention will be thrown upon them as long as they continue to score goals/touchdowns/buckets.
My theory was strengthened when I began working at Traveltime. I shared an office with our Vice President of Sales for the first several months. We’ll call him Bob Ramsey. I would use his real name, but I think he’s the type of guy that regularly googles himself. Especially when he’s at work.
Within the first couple of days I sensed that there was something going on with Bob. I would ask him a question regarding the business, usually a simple question like, “How are sales going?” 45 minutes later, as he was discussing the connection between leprechauns and Starz premium cable, I realized that I made a grave error. The man loves to talk. That’s fine. I’ve surrounded myself with talkers. The problem is that he doesn’t have anything interesting to say. I don’t care about him hitting on 20 year olds, or his thoughts on luxury automobiles. I learned to never ask him anything. It got to the point that I wouldn’t even make direct eye contact. I just stared at my computer screen until he lost interest.
It was his laugh though, more than anything, that really got to me. Ugh, even thinking about it makes me cringe. He was on the phone throughout the day. Some of his calls were business related, but the vast majority were about football, or about his kids, or with old high school friends that had nicknames like The Duke or Weasel. Bob Ramsey style jokes would fly all over the place, which would inevitably be followed by the phrase, “That’s funny,” and then him chuckling in a “Huh huh huh,” manner. It ruined the phrase “that’s funny” for me. I can’t hear it without hearing the laugh. I’m thinking about it right now and making a “I just smelled a fart” face.
After a week of being in the office with Bob, I was asked by one of my coworkers about my opinion of our VP. I was new to the company at that point and I gave a very canned response. She informed me that she thought he had been hit in the head too many times during his football career. I laughed it off and didn’t think much about it at the time.
It wasn’t until later that I realized the truth to her statement. I did a quick search on Bob Ramsey. He had, in fact, played football. A lot of football. Our VP of Sales played in the NFL for a number of years. He wasn’t a star by any means, but he made a decent career of it. And that’s when it all made sense.
The poor conversational habits, the jokes, the constant need for attention. All of it because he was living in the athlete bubble. I felt bad for him. He was once a star, but was now reduced to selling Traveltime to corporate clients.
I can excuse most of the annoying behavior. He never knew any better. The bubble is to be blamed. But the laugh…Oh, the laugh. That will continue to haunt my nightmares.
-More to Come…