Thursday, 29 July 2010

You will understand.

A long time ago, my mother had a very close friend. And one day, that friend was getting married. As a close friend, my mother expected to be treated as such. And she was- when it came to helping the friend with the arrangements. However, not when it came to the sitting plan.

‘You are such a close friend’, she was told. ‘You will understand’.

The friend explained that the reason my mother was given a bad seat at the wedding party was because of all the important people who had to get the best seats. And when you worry too much about giving the rich and powerful the best seats at the wedding, your real friends end up sitting at the back.

What is it about so many people that they just can’t stop sucking up to the rich and powerful?

I expect most of you will claim that you are not like that. None of us like to hear that about ourselves.

So, you have never sucked up to the rich and powerful. Well, let’s check. I have created a little SUCKUP test here for all of us. Add 1 point for every YES and 0 for a NO and do your maths.

You suck up to the rich and powerful people if:

a) You worry what to take to their house for a dinner party and end up taking a lot more than usual.

b) If it is her/his birthday, you agonize what to buy, as nothing seems good enough for someone who has everything.

c) You find yourself talking about them a lot with other, normal, friends.

d) You tend to always agree with what they are saying, even if you don’t.

e) You would rather miss your parents’ wedding anniversary than say no to a party thrown by these guys.

f) You go out of your way to buy something that looks similar to something the rich and powerful people own, even if it is a cheap imitation.

g) You feel flattered when they notice you and include you in their social arrangements.

h) You always invite them to your important events (like a wedding) first, even if that leaves no space for your real, close friends. Because they will understand.

If you said no to every single one of the above, then I am proud of you. You have officially never sucked up to anyone rich and powerful. I would like to think that I have not either. But, I am sure that at some point in life, I must have done. I am Azeri after all. And Azeries are fantastic at this. I recently noticed that English people are not immune to the money+power+suckup combination either. And I suspect the reason I notice it is simply because I recognize the signs. Because, as an Azeri, I am an expert.


  1. 3 points :)

    Surely it's universal. Maybe it's even stronger in societies that happen to be more collectivist and based on the culture of 'honour', I don't know

  2. You know what?! Hurt feelings aside, your mother probably had more fun at the bad seat, than the host among her special guests.

    I had a very similar experience, except that it was a birthday party and we were teenagers. At some point, I overheard some of the important guests actually making fun of the 'suck upness' of the host and asking 'whose party is this anyway?' or 'does anybody actually know the birthday girl?'. So, when I am tempted to suckup, I remember that party, and how the important guests will always 'get you'.

  3. I only have a question for you: did your mom understand back then?
    Muchos saludos!

    PS: I heard your fan page is back. Good for you!

  4. I score zero; Chushkas and Chelovek Moralno Obosranniy never so much as set eyes upon the rich and powerful. We suck up to the lower-middle class.

  5. @listota: Well done! 5 points for being honest. :) I feel it is more obvious in some cultures, but exists absolutely everywhere.

    @A.I.Canhoto: I am sure my mother had a good time, but she remembered this story for years. It is very frustrating when someone you think is a special friend treats you like this. It makes you realize what they are really like,deep inside.
    And about the rich guys laughing at the suckups...It is a very, very good point. I have experienced it before, and it has been covered by some very famous russian literature examples...It happens very often.They will laugh at these attempts and they will always look down at you however hard you try. If, however, they are decent rich people, they should just like you for what you really are. Thinking about it...It must be difficult to be rich. How do you know who is your real friend and simply likes your company, and who is not? Must be quite hard. I would be forever suspicious. And how do they ever date anyone and trust their feelings? Gosh, scary!

    @Gabriela: She still remembers it now, so I doubt she understood it all the way. :) Yes! The FB page is back, thanks to Onnik! thank you.

    @Mark: You are scary. Your attention to detail worries me now. :)))) Also, sucking up to the lower middle class counts too. :) Still sucking up, right?

  6. At the risk of seeming smug, I really did answer 'No' to every question. The problem now is that, since I recognise that for most people, the answers would be mixed, what's wrong with me?

    I think, to be serious, that I loathe the particular power/money combination so much that I actually need to be actively AGAINST it. The inequalities arising from the non-distribution of wealth (at private and public levels) represent a huge indictment of the way we live. As a society we continue to put profits before people so let's stop deifying people simply because they've accumulated pounds or dollars.

    (That was a party political broadcast on behalf of a non-existent party, unfortunately.)

  7. Who is this Mark person? He is seriously funny & smart :)

  8. I've never been invited to any parties like that. But if I were I think I would probably suck up :\

  9. @Nata: He is a writer I met on Rammenas. That is correct? I think? Mark, would you like to properly introduce yourself? :)

    @Bill: what if you become rich and famous soon? :)

    @Shannon: You might not. Not everyone does, fortunately.

  10. Yes,like Anton Chehov's and others russian writers wrote about tradition to invite General for wedding,sometimes even hire them,ha-ha...

  11. I’m missing the gene responsible for the feeling of awe at being in the presence of someone important. To top it off, I think I’m someone important. It doesn’t bother me that no one else knows about it. :):)

  12. @ Nata & Scary: I'm flattered at your interest, but I don't really know what there is to tell that I haven't already mentioned. I'm 32, live in California, and met my wife while we were pursuing undergraduate degrees in physics. We have one surviving son of four years, as well as five adorably unwanted goats, two computers in need of serious therapy, and a car with some other undiagnosed psychological disorder compelling it to whir, blink, and beep at random intervals, even when the engine is off.

  13. It used to be somewhere below 0 for me, before i came to Az. But things have worsened ever since I opened my business in the country....

    I'm far too ashamed to even Think of writing the number but well it was way above average...

    Boy, oh, boy, what have these years done to me...


    what have I let money/power/greed do to me...

    One thing's for sure, "Horosho tam gde nas nyet"

    I guess it's the time to go back home...

    back to innocence...I suppose....


    Yankee friend.

  14. @Mark: You sound older than you are, you are just a baby!!! :)

    @Anonymous Yankee friend: Yes but I dont think it only works in Azerbaijan, you know.... I bet you Americans suck up to the rich friends just as beautifully, if a little more gracefully. :)

  15. @Scary: In US it's called "managing up". It's an art form in itself. On the surface it looks completely different from the Azeri format, but the idea & the outcomes are the same.
    @Mark: good luck with the computers & car. Sounds serious :)

  16. @ Scary,

    Yes, you are right! Humans are all very alike. What i meant to say was thatit is about the time i should rethink my ways and "go back to innocence" following that what i know better (w/o necessarily leaving Az!)

    Yankee friend.

  17. @Nata: I have not heard that expression, I like it. :)

    @Anonymous: Do I actually know you? You sign it as Yankee friend, do you mean "virtual" friend or someone I might have met before? Just curious.

  18. @ Scary,

    No, I dont think we've ever met. Maybe once many years ago we just happened to be in the same city, as the same time passing by the same street...who knows? :)

    Yankee friend.