I HATE phoney people… but even more, I hate when phoney people are phoney nice. Yesterday afternoon I ran into a woman (let’s call her Kitty), whom I dislike greatly. My dislike for Kitty is warranted (story to follow), and Kitty is not well liked by most other people I talk to. I also happen to know that Kitty doesn’t like me. Surprise, Surprise (wait for the story…)
Yesterday afternoon I was going on an elevator expedition through the hospital with A. while we waited for his and E.’s prescriptions to be ready. I saw Kitty. She saw me. I acknowledged her presence, like I always do. Instead of pretending like she didn’t see me, however, she smiled at me and said, “Oh, is that your little guy? What a cutie! He’s getting so big!”
Woah, Woah… Hold onto your panties, Kitty!
The last time we had any meaningful interaction, you threw an envelope in my face (um, yes, she is in fact, and adult). Also, you’ve never seen A. before… don’t act like you know anything about me and my kids.
I smiled and responded professionally and appropriately to Kitty, and I was happy the interaction was short. But then we ran into her again, at the bottom of the elevator (she had taken the stairs). And, she was walking in the same direction as us… So we started chatting and she was talking to me like I was her best friend! She was congratulating me on my awesome research from the summer, talking more about how cute A. is, asking how the baby is doing, commenting on how busy I must be and how she’s so happy to see that I’m making it all work… blah blah… Then she asks, ” are you applying [to our residency program]?” I gaver he a blank look, seeing as how I’m not applying for residency for another year. She looked surprised: “you’re still applying, aren’t you???”
Um, yes, Kitty, I am still applying… but only because you will be long gone!
More importantly… why do you give two flying figs about whether or not I’m applying to residency here? You hate me and I’m sure you’d love to sabotage me… AHH! Yes! Sabotage! What better way to sabotage me than when I’m applying to residency???
Kitty falls into the lowest possible category of phoney nice people: “Genuinely evil with a weapon of kindness.” These people are grumpy and hateful and they hate to see people succeed. They need to have control and remind you where they belong in relation to you, which is often above you. When you look them in the eye, there is nothing genuine there… Instead, you can see little gears turing behind their eyes: Calculating, cataloguing, planning their next strategic step to BRING. YOU. DOWN.
There are other categories of phoney nice people that aren’t so bad and can generally be tolerated. The tame, “ulterior motivator,” who does nice things with the expectation that you will owe them something… usually at the most inconvenient time. Most often, these people don’t give you the time of day, unless they want something from you. Then you think, “what does this person want now???” The good thing about the ulterior motivator is that they aren’t really that mean or unfriendly in general.
Then there is the “step on you to step ahead” phoney nice person. These people know who they need to impress to get what they want in life. They are usually despised by most people, but they are well liked by the people who matter. They will be nice to you when they need your assistance to get something, or when they know that you are in a position of influence. If you are none of these, this type of phoney nice person will just be mean and unfriendly to you; they may even go as far as to remind you of just how good they are in relation to you… making you dislike them even more. Oh, and I forgot to mention, once they are done getting what they need from you, they punt you back into the “insignificant person” pile. That med student who was shadowing my mentor a few weeks ago, she falls into this category…
I think I dislike phoney nice people so much because I like to think I’m a genuinely nice person. I am also a very sensitive person and I don’t cope well when someone “pulls one over on me.” And, if I do something nice for someone and it seems like I may have an ulterior motive, and often feel very guilty and ruminate about how horrible of a person that makes me… Anyway, I could go on forever… I digress!
[The first few weeks into my first year in med school, I was assigned to shadow a resident in O&G for an afternoon. I was really excited to potentially see a delivery or a c-section, or anything really. The resident, Kitty, was initially very friendly and she invited me into the resident library to chat, since there wasn’t anything interesting going on. During that chat she asked me why I was interested in O&G; I gave her a few of my reasons, one being that I absolutely loved my own obstetrician, KM. The mood in the room changed instantly and Kitty started telling me about how horrible of a person KM is, how no one likes her, how she doesn’t care about teaching, how she fools her patients into believing she’s a good person… and on and on for 45 minutes. As you can imagine, I was so upset. I loved KM, I wanted her to be my mentor… and this resident was talking her down so badly. Not to mention, she was also being very unprofessional: blatantly insulting an attending physician in front of a medical student. Anyway, I talked to the shadowing coordinator at the med school about this in an attempt to debrief. I eventually heard that other students were having problems shadowing in O&G and the program got banned from shadowing for a short time as a result. I heard a little later that my “complaint” made it through the grapevine to the head of O&G, and he eventually had a talking to with Kitty. I didn’t see this resident for quite a while after this incident, but the next time I did see her, she made it very clear that she didn’t like me. And the envelope in my face… well that was at a National O&G conference.
Over the next few years, I came to learn that this resident is not well liked by all the other residents in the program, and she’s made some bad blood with many of the attending physicians. After attending the National conference I mentioned above, I was approached by another resident (whom I love) because she wanted me to write a formal complaint against Kitty. Apparently, the residency program was looking to put her on academic probation for reasons of professionalism, and they just needed more written documentation to do so. Who knows, maybe that’s why she is, all of the sudden, so nice to me. That, and the fact that I am quite well liked by all the other residents who know me, as well as many of the attending physicians and the department head. If you cant beat ’em, join ’em, right?]