Do You Know Who I Am!

Last Saturday, flying my favorite blue and yellow airline to Delhi, I was lucky to get an upgrade. I stretched my legs in the first row, in an attempt to sleep through the take-off and hopefully for a little while longer. I must have fallen asleep when suddenly I was woken up by a loud voice cutting across the cabin. When I looked back, it was some “politician-type” in white and white, shouting at one of the stewards. I couldn’t quite make out what he was saying, but he kept repeating one sentence over and over again. “Do you know who I am?” The steward and the supervisor were unable to calm him, but he finally ran out of steam and stopped shouting. Then in a loud voice, he proclaimed to no one in particular, “You have to teach these people”. During the lunch service, I asked the supervisor what the issue was. Apparently, the “white and white” wanted a non-vegetarian meal. By the time the steward reached him, all the non-vegetarian meals had already been ordered and there was nothing left for him. Therefore, he lost it. Over a measly plate of food! I asked the supervisor, whether she knew who he was. She said “no”.
Obviously. If someone has to shout, “Do you know who I am!”, it is almost certain that the person being asked this question doesn’t have a clue! If you are the type of person who needs to utter this sentence, i.e. if you are a DYKWIA, then rest assured, you are definitely not worth it.
There is a great piece on this subject by Stanley Bing, who pens a column on the last page of Fortune magazine. This has always remained stuck at the back of my mind and I promised myself then, that some day I would write about this. If you read that piece and find some borrowed ideas here, that would be because I completely agree with him.
The DYKWIA who says, “Do you know who I am?” or the more colloquial “Saala, tum jaante nahin main kaun hoon?” screws up the situation for everyone, including himself/herself. Since only insecure and self-important puffed-up shirts say this, the moment this sentence is uttered, the people around have already sized up this DYKWIA for what he/she is. The person being told off obviously does not know who the DYKWIA is and then gets badly stuck between the devil and the deep blue sea. He could say “No, I really don’t” and figuratively kill the idiot, but at the risk of getting into some trouble if the DYKWIA escalates this; or he could try and accommodate the DYKWIA, usually over someone else’s head and then risk the ire of that third person who is being passed over. Which means that if the DYKWIA actually gets what he/she is shouting for, the others around the DYKWIA will also make a noise.
Either way, no one really wins.
Imagine if the steward or supervisor had requested someone in the first two rows to give up a non-vegetarian meal in favor of the “white and white”. Someone in the sixth row could have then created a ruckus. This just doesn’t work.
I still think though that the best response to this question, even at the risk of losing one’s job or possible repercussions, should be, “I am sorry, I don’t. Can you please educate me?”. Ninety-nine percent of the times, the DYKWIA will be some inconsequential insect. You can take a chance on the other one percent.

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