Yesterday a handyman called Bob came over to help me fix up a few things
around the house that I couldn’t work out how to do.
As he worked, Bob started telling me how his real name was Roberto, pronounced with an Italian flair and a rolled “R”, but that he was mocked so much at school in formerly incredibly-racist Australia for being a “wog” (his words) that one of teachers decided to help him out by calling him Bob, and from then on, he was Bob.
Bob was relieved to have a less “ethnic” name and started to practice becoming a master at accents,
so he can now switch from his Aussie accent into an English accent at will.
He demonstrated for me as he replaced a hinge on my kitchen cupboard.
I told him I’d done the same upon moving to Melbourne from living with mostly English people on superyachts, I came back with a pretty strong English accent that I’d taken on by mimicking my colleagues – partly because I wanted to feel like a “new” person, changed from my years abroad – I didn’t want old friends to mistake me for the person I used to be (as though my accent was ever going to help that!?) – and partly because I was sick of being mocked for having a Kiwi accent during the year I lived in Sydney a few years prior.
Partly because I was still very insecure and was trying to create a new identity for myself to hide behind.
Then, with sudden vigor, Bob announced that now he’s at retirement age, and about to attend a school reunion, he is now extremely proud of his Italian heritage, and obsessed with other languages and other cultures.
Bob told me excitedly how much he loves getting stuck in traffic,
because while everyone else is getting agitated, he’s revelling in the extra time he gets to listen to the radio stations of Europe! Currently he’s big into French radio, he listens to all their news programs. He said it’s fascinating listening to France’s perspective on Australia, vs the way that Australia portrays it in their incredibly biased news. Bob listens to the same news stories in English, Italian, and French, just for fun!
When I told him I also speak French, we broke into a French conversation and then he whipped out his iPhone and proceeded to show me all the French news apps I could download.
“Mate!!” He cried with gusto “You just won’t know yourself! It’s just unbelievable what technology can do – you’ve got France in your pocket!! These young people, mate, they’ve got NO IDEA how phenomenal this piece of technology is and what it can do!”
My heart started to beat faster with excitement,
his passion and enthusiasm completely inspired me
and I started downloading all the French radio apps as he continued his hinge repairs.
Then he got out a special carpet stretching tool and showed me how it worked as he told me that if I wanted to get to know and Indian man (like his Indian doctor), I needed to learn about cricket, and if i wanted to really get to know an Indian woman, I’d need to know everything about pressure cookers.
That segued into another bout of enthusiasm from Bob as he described these phenomenal gadgets that we overlook in the west – they cook a delicious meal in all of 10 MINUTES!
I started googling pressure cookers.
Bob told me that he loved now being in a job where people massively underestimate him so he has no pressure on him,
and people are pleasantly suprised when they learn that there’s more to him than “handyman Bob”.
And it’s so true – our minds love to put people in boxes and assume they have nothing interesting to share with us.
How wrong we always are –
people’s unique stories and experiences are bloody fascinating when they can only have the courage to be authentic about who they are and what they love.
Mad as it may be or not.
Bob came to my house for less than an hour, fixed a few hinges and doors, and when he left my mood had been transformed into one of inspiration and awe.
How easily someone else’s passions and zest for life can propel you into feeling their excitement – even when talking about pressure cookers!
Whatever it is that makes you excited –
as incredibly random as it may be –
tell people about it!
Show them your enthusiasm for obscure things.
You have the power to inspire people
around you and lift their moods, just like Bob.
I couldn’t not share Bob’s enthusiasm with you, and I hope it inspires you to be brave and tell your own story.
It’s not the subject matter that matters – it’s you!