The newspaper I previously worked for employs a very friendly receptionist. All receptionists are supposed to be friendly, but Connie Abbott has such a positive tone, she could brighten your day by saying, "Did anyone ever tell you that you look like a movie star? You ought to go to Hollywood and audition for the title role in a new movie: The Return of King Kong."
"A movie star?" you'd say. "Thank you so much. That's the best compliment I've received since my music teacher told me I sing as well as Milli Vanilli."
I appreciated Connie's friendliness because I've encountered a few unfriendly receptionist including one at the Indian embassy in Washington D.C. who could make both King Kong and Godzilla scamper away in fear.
During a stop at the embassy several years ago, I watched her harass visitor after visitor and thought to myself, "One billion people to choose from and they couldn't hire anyone friendlier. This woman could single-handedly ruin India's tourist industry. If the Indian government were smarter, they'd appoint her to a new position: Director of Prisons. The crime rate would drop so fast, many politicians would lose money."
In contrast, Connie is so pleasant that some people are willing to call the newspaper every day just to greet her and say, "When's my wedding picture going to appear in the paper? Hopefully before the divorce."
Whatever they say, Connie remains friendly and polite. She's an excellent receptionist and a true success. Yes, a success.
For some reason, we seem to reserve the term "success" for people with money, fame or power. But who gave them such a monopoly? Alan Greenspan? You don't have to be an actor or entrepreneur or software whiz to be a success. Receptionist farmer teacher janitor homemaker plumbers can be just as successful, even if they've never made a single appearance on Oprah.
In fact, if Oprah Winfrey invited me on her television show, I'd tell her all about it.
Oprah: "It's my pleasure today to welcome the world-renowned expert on succes Melvin Durai, author of the new self-help book I'm Successful, You're Successful. He says he can spot a successful person a mile away."
Me: "Yes, Oprah. My clients pay me thousands of dollars to tell them they're successful. Many of them have no clue. Just the other day, I told Julia Roberts that she's a success. She was so excited, she gave me her Oscar."
Oprah: "Well, let's talk about other celebrities. What about Howard Stern, the radio shock jock who has offended many people with his ethnic and religious jokes? Is he a success?"
Me: "Yes, of course he's a success."
Oprah: "What do you mean? Don't you think he's an idiot?"
Me: "Ye but he's a successful idiot."
Oprah: "Please explain that to our audience. I can see a few confused faces."
Me: "Well, can you think of a better idiot than Howard Stern? He's the best idiot on the radio. He plays the role of idiot well. That makes him a success as an idiot. In fact, if we had an Idiot Hall of Fame, he'd be voted in unanimously."
Oprah: "What about ordinary people who don't appear on television every day at 4 p.m. like me? Can they be successful?"
Me: "Yes, of course, Oprah. It doesn't matter what you do-if you do it well, you can consider yourself a success. Just because you don't have money, fame or power, don't let anyone tell you you're not a success."
Oprah: "Wow! I never thought of it like that. Would you like to be a regular guest on my show?"
Me: "Really? Oh my gosh. Now my mother may actually believe I’m a success."