One of the aspects that I enjoy most about being involved with NZ Performance Car is all the people I get to meet — out at events, on shoots, and even the people I end up chatting with online. I’ve met some solid mates this way, and anyone who’s talked to me will know I’m all about a bit of light banter to break the ice — what’s a bit of shit between mates, right?
Meeting new people is always going to be a mixed bag, though; everyone has a different personality, expression, and way they conduct themself. A conversation that was a good laugh with one person may be boring or offensive to another, and this can create a reputation for you that spreads quickly. I won’t alter the way I talk or act to suit different people; I just do me and let people think what they will.
Recently, I’ve seen the full effect that these types of reputations can have on people within our world, with complete strangers dogging on someone’s name because of something that a mate of a mate has said. Yes, I’ve probably been guilty of this in the past; I’ll openly admit that — we’re all young and a bit stupid at one point in our lives. I remember when a mate said that he didn’t like a dude who went to the same school as I did, so I, by default, didn’t like this guy either, and we used to exchange words over the courtyards. I saw him a few years later — at my first track day, no less — and he approached me for what I expected to be the same exchange of words. Instead, he said hello, we chatted briefly, and he ended the conversation with a staunch “I’ll see you out on track”, while death glaring me as he walked away. That led to a Facebook add, a good laugh about it, and being mates for years now.
A similar situation occurred after someone who I’d never met or spoken to — one of those random Facebook associates — put up a status about a controversial topic. I can’t recall what it was about, but I commented with my thoughts, albeit possibly my response was on the cheeky side of things, and this person took offence, sending a textbook-long private message. That person got slotted into the moron category for what would have easily been two years, and I passed my thoughts about the person on to a few mates. One day, I finally bumped into said person while catching up with mates and quickly learned that they were actually someone pretty solid to talk to. We now stay in regular contact, and I’d call them a mate any day of the week.
I suppose the point I’m trying to get across here is that we’ll be told a lot of things about people we’ve never met, and, being human, we’ll be quick to judge them on what we’re told, but I’ve learned that reserving any kind of notion until you’ve had the chance to form your own opinion of them can open a lot of doors, and you can end up with some lifelong mates. Be nice to each other; those throwaway comments, in person or online, travel fast and can impact heavily on people.
Work together, build the scene, ‘make mates great again’.