Monday, April 12, 2010

Identity Theft

I’ve learned that a person’s identity and how they are perceived is
important and knowing one’s self and what you want to convey is entirely up to you.
I’ve done things in the community that has formed opinions and believe me, people do remember what touched their lives.
“Hey, man, are you still on the radio?” is what I get in the grocery store by someone I haven’t seen in many years.
“Do you still do those plays?” is something I get from closer friends who know I’m not on the radio.
“Are you still on TV?” That’s what I get from people whom I’ve met in the last few years and at points in between I get:

“Damn! We sure got drunk when you owned The Abyss.”

“I remember when you did those skits on stage at Illusions.”

“That Navi-Gator Magazine, that was a pretty funny magazine.”

And the big one,

“Whatever happened with that Steve-O shit?
(When you finish, Goggle Larry Hyatt and Steve-O. Don’t do it yet you’ll be there in one minute.)

All those things were all part of my identity and things publicly that I’ve conveyed. A golf buddy told me that I should run for political office. He didn’t know my secret identity so I took it as a compliment.
I have a friend who didn’t want to relinquish his non-profitable business after thirty years even after he had divorced his wife and lost his kids by sticking with the losing proposition. He felt giving up would have been a sign of weakness, his identity, that of a donut-maker, the person who got up early and made the donuts, a worthy profession.
He once confided in me that he could have sold the business for an exorbitant amount of money but he didn’t because he didn’t know how to do anything else. He learned how to mix dough at an early age, from his father, and throwing it in a fryer was something he did with perfection before he doused them with a mixture of flavored sugar that he had made himself and was proud of. He felt no one should take that away. It was “his’ donut, the donut that had the perfect mixture of yeast and cinnamon and would rise to the perfect height. He knew he was the “Donut Man.” When seen in a grocery that’s what they called him. I loved his donuts.
I have a family member who is a drug addict and his identity is that of, go figure, a drug addict. No one wants to let him in their house because after years of knowing he has a monkey on his back he can rationalize stealing the television you watch every day by coming to the conclusion you won’t miss it. To me this is a person who doesn’t care how he is perceived and doesn’t know his own identity or perhaps he does realize the induced rationalization and has to get it while the getting’s good. Either way, you’re not watching American Idol in your living room this week.
What about the identity of a person of a perceived, distinguished position and liaison, such as a board member in a small town community to which some find isn’t much but can be held dear by those who’s own self identity is in question? To “hob knob” with the communities elite and walk amongst those that have discretionary income is an identity on to itself. I’ve met these, the people who forget the mission but enjoy being apart of something bigger then one’s self. Non-profit boards are unpaid positions, do it for the mission and of course, court ordered community service.
It seems to me that government employees and community board members go hand in hand? Communities with Kiwanis, Rotary, The Chamber; all intermingle and want each to do well and want each member to join their group and that’s good because these groups always seem to produce “The Most Useful Citizen.” My town acknowledges a person for this award each year through a contest in the newspaper. I would love to be considered the most useful citizen even years after the fact.
In the grocery someone could say, “Hey Larry, I remember when you were the most useful citizen. What have you been up to? Oh Wow! That’s not useful. So tell me, are you still on the radio?

1 comment:

  1. I think public perception can be both helpful in defining oneself but also a bit of a burden. I'm a pastor's wife, and I often don't tell people that up front (see, Larry, you're just hearing it now). I like to be known for who I am apart from this role. I don't want to be treated or spoken to differently because of it. The expectations that come with the role sometimes leave room for disappointment (I don't play the organ or bake lots of cookies, for example!).

    In a community where is it impossible not to meet someone at the grocery store you know, public perception plays a bigger role. In other environments, not so much.