Sometimes, I wonder about the importance of how much we think we are worth – the thing that triggers confidence or cockiness.
There are a lot of whiners. That, as a matter of fact, I know. When I say this, I think about a theatre critic who was known to complain about journeys out of London and therefore almost rarely write about performances out of town. My mental image of this person is that s/he’d be standing at the box office demanding his all important free press ticket… because the show needs good rating to sell.
And I wasn’t proven wrong. As I stood behind the box office of our company’s London premiere, journalists jumped the long queue and squeezed past everyone to ask for their (again, all important free press) tickets. When there weren’t any, they started name dropping, “so and so invited me. I should be on the guest list. I should have a ticket under my name.” And we, those behind the box office, either: scrambled through the pile of tickets, found nothing and apologetically said please bear with me a second; or put on a stern / friendly face (depends on what works) and said we are really sorry but do you mind joining the queue again like everyone else to wait to be served but secretly hoping that we wouldn’t offend them?
It was 5 minutes before the stated start time. There I was, wondering how on earth tickets could have gone missing and how unapologetic people can be for turning up during the busiest time yet expecting VIP treatment.
And then I saw him.
He stood quietly in the queue.
His gaze was fixated on the screens which were showing promotional trailers for upcoming performances. His backpack casually hung off his shoulder. Amongst the hustle and bustle of the theatre foyer, he was calm and quiet. And patient.
But out of every single person I served tonight, he was the one who could have felt the most right to stomp through all other almost-latecomers and demand for his ticket.
I told my boss (who by now looked a bit worried by the absence of this guest), “Danny Boyle is over there.”
I remembered the first time I met Danny Boyle. My boss said his car broke down on the way and wanted me to welcome Danny on his behalf while he got the car fixed.
Danny Boyle is famous. He is also important to the company. I was new on the job, and I was nervous. I googled for his photograph, hoping that I would recognise when he turned up so to give him the warmest welcome.
15 minutes later, my boss rang me and asked, “Is Danny there?” “Yes.” “Is he alone?” “Yes.” “What is he doing now?” “Talking.” “With who?” “Me.” A pause… of surprise? “OK I will be there soon.”
Yes, I would imagine that Danny Boyle would have whipped out his phone and pretend to be busy to be talking to unimportant characters like me. But he didn’t. I spoke, he listened and responded in a way that the conversation could continue. And I found out that he took the tube and walked to the meeting place, and would still take the tube back to the film set, or wherever he was going to.
“Be kind, for everyone is fighting a battle.”
This was quoted in an interview with Danny Boyle, and it stuck in my head.
Danny Boyle stood in the queue quietly. His backpack casually hung off his shoulder. His gaze spoke about an inquisitive soul. Just like the first time I met him.
And I wonder, is it because of humility that made talented people, great?