Just about everyone knows someone who is honest, dependable, hard working, and trust worthy but sometimes not very pleasant.
Some of the farmers I worked for early in life are good examples of people that you could trust but wouldn't smile and shake your hand every time they saw you. When you messed up, they got in your face and told you about it and often, not in words that your mother ever told you about. In hindsight I believe they weren't just mad at you for messing up, they were mad at you for holding up the work. If you broke the bailer or only available tractor as the sun and drying wind was making the hay ready for bailing, you could really be in some trouble.
There was an obvious cause-and-effect relationship between their anger and current events; you knew exactly why they were angry. Their generosity and kindness was also predictable most of the time. Sometimes loading hay into the evening, we all went swimming later to relieve ourselves of the hay chaff accumulated around our sweaty necks, arms and faces. They gave us cold soda and bought us hotdogs, French fries and hamburgers after a long day in the hay field. You couldn't "smooze" these guys, they judged you on your work and it didn't matter who you knew or how important you thought you were.
There was a fidelity to the work and they demanded that you gave it your all most of the time. For the most part, these were not boastful men, but they modeled hard work, reliability, humility and honesty, highly desirable traits in anyone's estimation. I suspect that in today's politically correct world, their sometimes, loud and angry outbursts might cause some to conclude that they were not nice people. In my opinion, they would be wrong.
These days I occasionally encounter people that seem just too nice. They go out of their way to talk to just about everyone; they often laugh that phony sounding laugh and often smile that disingenuous smile.
Sometimes those same people that seem so incredibly affable and nice aren't very nice at all. They sometimes trash people they know behind their backs, including their own families and friends surprisingly.
Apparently, these pretenders believe that there is a soundproof force field around them as they say horrible things. No surprise when their hurtful remarks get back to their victims by design. After all, nice people don't say mean things directly to their victims that would not be very nice.
I believe that the advent of emailing and texting has made being mean and hurtful much easier. It is easy to be a cowardly assassin behind a keyboard. While most adults can often discern the "wolf in sheep's clothing," young people are much more vulnerable to these specious individuals. After all, it is counterintuitive to mistrust a person that seems nice.
Unfortunately, I have no advice to offer in detecting these destructive people among us other than to trust your own instincts. Often when something or someone is just "too good to be true" your instincts may be telling you to beware. I have known individuals over long periods of time that are genuinely nice people who rarely say anything bad about anyone. I can count these people on one hand.
One thing that I am sure of is that just about everyone gets mad, everyone has bad days and everyone does things that they wish they could get back. That is normal and that is real. A person who becomes angry or upset sometimes might be more like most of us, human.
I am not advocating for angry people or for people that yell sometimes. In fact they may be real jerks. Rather, I am suggesting that being superficially pleasant all the time doesn't make you a nice person; especially when that artificial niceness is coupled to speaking baseless gossip or malicious stories about others.
Remember all kids count.
Reach the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org