Friday, May 31, 1996

Driver Or Passenger?

I used to be one. You know, the Type A Personality. Self-driven to such an extent for success in every endeavor. No matter what. Success above and before everything else. (The Advertising Industry requires it's minions of creative and account people to beType A or very close to it as a prerequisite for success. The Non-Type A people work on the "client side of the desk", where it's a little more laid-back.) Well, "used to" implies a complete change; my change was not complete and came with a major mid-life career and lifestyle restructuring. It was difficult to change everything all at once, so I didn't bother with the details and just changed what I needed to. Culture shock? From New York to York? Yep, bigtime.
The Theory of Typed Personalities implies that two major categories of people exist: those who drive themselves and those who are driven by others. A (sort of) recent 1994 article in JAMA, The Journal of The American Medical association refuted this theory in part, saying that, "...Typed Personalities Profiles exist in a convenient form of classification for psychological evaluationists to use solely in rendering summary judgements and prescribed treatments." Huh?
Loosely translated, JAMA said phooey to that entire notion of Typed Behavior and related stress conditions. Wheeeew, what a relief! I though I had something else to worry about.
If anyone has access to any other more recent studies or information on the Theory of Typed Personalities, please share it with me and I'll put it up here as a follow-up entry.

It Takes All Kinds.

In my daily travels meeting with people from all walks of life, I run into such a varied group of personalities that it's clear there aren't just two Types at all. There are many more than two; how many I don't really know. If I did, I'd be writing articles for JAMA, and someone else would be doing these Journal Pages.
So far, I've found the following identifiable Types of People:
  • People who drive themselves.
  • People who are driven by others.
  • People who go their own way.
  • People who just coast.
  • People who don't care either way.
  • People who have given up.
  • People who do nothing.
  • People who are spectators.
I occasionally see people in the last 5 categories; they're wallpaper of sorts, not making any waves of significance or positive impressions on others in the course of their lives. Lives of quiet desperation. They just are. And there's nothing wrong with that at all if it works for them.
I'm more comfortable with people in the 1st and 3rd categories, since I identify easily with both lifestyle Types. Being driven by others reminds me of someone in a pressure cooker about ready to explode and retaliate at those who have driven him or her all those years; kind of like the very unpredictable Postal Worker Syndrome. Time bombs with a short fuse. Licking too many stamps will do that to you; probably the glue or something.

Your Own Drummer.

For as long as I can remember, I've walked to the beat of my own drummer. In the 60s, it was groovy to be your own parade, yet somehow reflecting back to those seemingly carefree times, we all looked and sounded alike; very little individuality at all, really. Nostalgia plays a big part in the rememberance of those times. Reality didn't enter in much at all back then, come to think of it.
Being an individual calls for real sacrifice in many areas: not going along with the crowd has a downside that can be traumatic if an inner understanding isn't reached with oneself. Being castigated and ostracized is one form, loneliness is the flip side. To many, the sacrifice isn't worth the effort. Many cave and re-join the pack. But that's life.
Today's semi-homogenous society requests that we all conform to the norm, whatever that is at the time. Forget that we're individuals and eminently capable of directing our own ship of life. It's still frowned upon by society as a whole to follow your own path and listen to a different drummer. Especially by the liberal democrats; they want big government to do it all for each of us, thereby making each of us dependent upon government. I believe that's called socialism and fascism, but certainly not democracy.


To think clearly for yourself is a great feat; to act upon the thought positively is a wondrous thing, a rarity in a world of conformity.
I couldn't live anyother way. Conformity has always been stifling and severly congestive to my way of thinking. And I gravitate toward those who view their ship of life in the same manner I do; we take a stand on issues and occupy a position. Of course, viewpoints evolve as time tempers our attitude, but the singularly good kernel of truth is the ability to change attitudes in a positive manner. Many people are inflexible or occupy no position at all. They deem individual viewpoints as dangerous to the common good. Scary folks, them.
There are exceptions and these must be noted, so as not to taint the image of an individualist. Extremist groups and renegade individuals are not healthy signs of a society in evolution; rather they are a symptom of the ills in a few disgruntled splinter factions. Dissent and opposition are healthy within a free society; the lack of those freedoms breeds discontent and conspiracy, leading to revolution and anarchy. Violence is the end result, and individualism becomes a dirty word on the lips of everyone.


My multi-flavor popsicle is dripping again. Would someone get me a cloth please? Thankyouverymuch!

Safety In Numbers.

Quite diametrically-opposed to the individualist is the person who loves a parade, a crowd or the "safety" of being with others. For whatever reason, this person can't make a decision without consulting the others of his or her chosen peer group. This is truly someone who has no identity, no personna, no will and no character and desperately needs a collective hiding place where s/he can draw on and assume the mask of those attributes from others.
This Groupie Type is everywhere; shopping malls, schools, the workplace, churches, garden centers; well, everywhere you can think of. I used to seem them by the hundreds coming in here; a few still do, but their numbers have gone elsewhere. Shopping here requires an individual to make an informed choice and we like to help educate people about the many choices that they truly have, but those Groupie Type people aren't capable of anything like that when they're alone or in a group. It takes way too much time to educate the group so the group can make the decision for the person. Have I lost you yet? They're K-Mart and Wal-Mart material shoppers and buyers; no informed decisions or choices there, just junk.

Do Opposites Attract?

Maybe, but I've never believed that. I've seen some strange combinations around in the last few dozen years. People whose personalities are both alike or dissimilar and yet are very happy with each other. They're lucky to have what they have. There's no typing here with chemistry between individuals; what works, works. And if it works, that's just fine as it is. Personally, I'm not attracted to an opposite personality; if anything, a common bond needs to be growing in place for me to feel any attraction. This theory discounts chemistry or sexual lust.

Out Of Character.

This past week, I've seen some real personality changes in people I've known for years. Maybe it's the coming full moon or the onset of the Memorial Day Weekend, but there are some definite shifts taking place out there.
Like a family I delivered mulch to just a few miles south of my Garden Center; for the past six years, they've always been good customers and have asked us in for many landscape projects after evaluation meetings I've had with them. But for the past year, I haven't heard much from them. While dumping the mulch from the 5-ton dumptruck, one of their small kids was watching and began telling me about his mommy's and daddy's agruments over the past year on a variety of topics. Yikes! I can't believe a four year old knows this stuff about his parents! He's probably told the whole school already. Seems both mommy and daddy were seeing other prople on the side, and their kids found out and told each parent about the other's sneaking around. That's when it all hit the fan. I collected a check from daddy, politely declined a beer (it was 7:30pm) because I had to drive back, and left. On the way, I wondered if the image I'd had of that family was wrong from the very beginning.
Several days later, another (older) couple whom I had done an estimate for a large Water Garden at their home last fall, appeared at the Garden Center and wanted to give me a deposit check for $20,000 on the project. I said it wasn't necessary; that we'd bill it out upon completion. He was a former CEO of a Fortune 100 Company, widely-reputed to be a hard-driving dealmaker in his corporate days, now retired but served on several corporate and charity boards. He started to get visibly angry that I didn't take his money; he said that without a downpayment on the project he couldn't be assured of being on our very busy schedule, and that this water Garden was a gift to his wife. He was starting to turn red in the face and, rather than have him risk a heart attack, stroke or a punch-in-the-face to me, I accepted his check and showed him where he stood on the computer generated project schedule. Satisfied, he joined his wife, who was in one of the four massive production greenhouses buying almost $1,000 in perennials. Hey, who am I to argue with a guy's health?
There are more instances of people whom I thought I'd known through the years, suddenly becoming very different than my preception of them was. After several of these encounters, I began to wonder if the preception was at fault and they were like that all the time. It was definitely out-of-character for each of them. I still don't know what the reality was or is.

Busy Weekend.

With a 3-day weekend upon us, it was the busiest yet here: over 2,000 people in for gardening-related items and purchases. All kinds of records were set, but we had very little help on Saturday, Sunday or Monday. My foreman, Alan Miller came in on Saturday to conduct a Water Gardening Workshop and a Bonsai Workshop was also being conducted by Master Jane Black of the Susquehanna Valley Bonsai Club. My secretary and her daughter came in to help at the front checkout counter, as did a couple of part-time ladies that usually come in on Saturday and Sunday.
I got caught up on phone order mulch deliveries by working the dumptrucks myself both days; over 75 CuYds delivered from last week's orders. That's one very full tractor trailer load! That's enough for today.

Hump Day.

It's Wednesday, the traditional hump day milestone for a traditional work week. I haven't quite figured out when or what my hump day is. Oh, there's TGIT (thank goodness it's thursday) and TGIF (... it's friday) and on and on and on ad infinitum ad nauseum. Anything to celebrate nothing at all. It's great, isn't it?
I used to enjoy going out on Friday after work in New York City to dine at the finest restaurants and bistros anywhere (except San Francisco). It was a celebration of an ending of a week and the beginning of a weekend vacation, which led to much-anticipated personal activities. Sailing, sports car racing, canoeing, road rallyes, hiking, camping and lots more always made the weekends full of adventure. Although tired from a full weekend of fun, I was refreshed and ready for the coming week.
Owning and running a 20 acre Garden Center & Nursery presents the situation of having to be here everyday for an unusual number of hours and it makes weeks run into other weeks. Months fade into months and so on. The lines blur between personal and business activities. It can and does consume one's entire reserve of energy. The only hope is to take a break whenever time permits.

Strange Weather.

I just heard on the NOAA Web Weather Page that a frost warning has been issued for central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland for Thursday night. Hey, that's tonight! What's next? Please don't ask; you won't like the answer.

Back To John's Journal

Let's Go Back To The Garden Center

Got something you want to spam me on?

Send e-mail to: