THE trick is as old as time, and was one of Hitler’s favourites.
Find a ‘loner’ (read ‘misfit’) with low qualifications and even lower self-esteem, elevate their status and bung a clipboard in their hand and they will do anything for you, literally!
Primo Levi called them ‘functionaries’ and was aware that the Nazis wouldn’t have got as far as they did without them. They are the snitches, the brown-nosers, those who dream of power and managerial positions but are too dim and lazy to work for it.
This week at the supermarket I was unfortunate enough to come face to face with a young chap who could easily be the poster boy for functionaries everywhere. Aged around 18, so obese he struggled to wobble, high viz jacket and lanyard, he poked a pudgy finger aggressively at an elderly lady in front of me to inform her, wearing THE most self-important expression, that she was entering his store via the ‘exit’ barrier.
He then turned his attention to me, but thought better of it. This wasn’t because I’m an Amazon (I’m 5ft 1in and under 9 stone) or have a black belt in judo: it was because my body language yelled ‘Don’t even think about it!’
So today, dear TCW readers, I am happy to share my secrets with you as an expert in the subject of non-verbal communication, so that you too are equipped for encounters with these jumped-up functionaries.
Stand tall, but do not stiffen – stiffness shows fear and these halfwits can smell it.
Ensure your chin is in straight alignment with the ground – too low and tucked in, it demonstrates a lack of confidence, too high and you are saying ‘Come and get me’ – it’s confrontational.
Once you have both of these down pat, it’s all in the walk and the facial expression.
The walk is the easier part – think John Travolta in the opening scene of Saturday Night Fever. It’s a strut, not arrogant but confident, not aggressive but it says ‘I’m the most popular guy or gal in town’ – nothing scares the functionary more than the popular one.
The face: passive but slightly amused. Think of your expression if it had just occurred to you that you are dealing with an absolute nitwit but you do not want to be unkind. You don’t laugh at them or humiliate them, but you just can’t help thinking ‘Who ties your shoelaces for you’? and that thought creeps out on to your face.
To date in the last year of refusing to put on a mask I have not been approached once. I could easily discern that many have thought about it, but the fear they feel on my approach is such that they turn to the side and pretend to be busy with something. It’s usually a close inspection of their box of masks, which has suddenly become the most interesting item in their sad, narrow little world.
I promise it works. Try it, because in my humble opinion it’s the little things orchestrated by a great number of people that have much more impact than protesting, writing to our MPs or signing a petition to government.
And even if it makes zero impact, it is worth it to witness the bumbling nervousness that supreme self-confidence engenders in the functionaries who are ‘just following orders’.