How Often Should You Play the “I’m New Here” Card to get Out of Tough Situations

screenshot of hancock movie showing will smith

I have heard and read that our body regenerates almost completely every ten years while vital body organs regenerate faster. Thanks to the influence Three Men in a Boat has on me, I never had enough initiative to research it to vet the accuracy of this statement. 

Like a fool, who errs in favor of more speaking than less, and less work than more, I just blurted it once or twice in sporadic conversations with friends and colleagues.

Now, we all know the feeling of being new at our jobs. Those initial jittery days, when we can’t tell a head from a tail. 

I know I do. I remember mine pretty clearly, mostly because I think I messed up everything I laid my hands on that fine summer day. And instead of making my ignorance obvious, I choose to act like a better fool. 

An oblivious fool – I promise you they are the best entertainment because I have been told I was a splendid entertainer in the first six months at my new job. 

Then a miracle landed right on my lap. I thought I had landed a jackpot with “I am new” – the king of all cop-outs. 

What was there to lose? One ‘I am new‘, and my angry client would instantly drop a shade of anger. After all, new people are allowed to make mistakes.

Thankfully, years passed, and I had the company of some great (cool) colleagues, who were patient with me, teaching me the tricks of the trade while keeping from guffawing at my foolishness. I made mistakes, but less dreadful and less frequently than before. 

But that also meant I didn’t have the cop-out of ‘I am sorry, I didn’t know that, I am new.’ 

Being new and wrong is passably tolerable at worst; being experienced and wrong will get you at least two to three verbal and/or non-verbal “Lord o Lords!”

All that to say that my years as a newbie have taught me a few things. Patience and understanding. If I was lucky enough to have that, it’s only fair that I pay it forward. 

But it turns out I am not as patient as I thought.

Fast forward, there is a cell phone store close to where I live, and I usually go there for my cell phone purchase/fix/repair needs. 

The store has been there for, I am told, a decade now. It’s pretty decent. Excellent display, clean, spacious, and organized.

I only have one complaint. 

One of their guys handling customer service requests likes saying ‘I am new’ a lot. With the number of people that get to the store every day, I guess it will be difficult for them to remember who they serve. 

Luckily for me, I don’t have that volume problem. That’s the only store I go to, and it usually has the same 3-4 people that serve customers. The guy obviously doesn’t remember that I have been on the receiving end of his ‘I am new’ for the past four years. 

I found it funny the first few times and brushed it off. New people can afford not knowing. 

But then it started getting to me. How did I grow four years older with 40 times more grey hair on my head, and the guy continues to be new for that entire period? 

My imagination started getting more and more interesting, given all the superhero content I have been consuming in recent years, more so to cope with the lockdown.

If you are a superhero nerd and have watched Will Smith As Hancock, you would probably remember the scene where he chases his Alien superheroine, Charlize Theron (Mary), across Los Angeles in a violent fight. All because he responded to her cold-blooded “Call me cuckoo one more time!” with exactly that.

Cuckoo!

I reign in my imagination and then start thinking. What if there was a corporate guideline on the usage of the statement ‘I am new’ that you will not be allowed to say after you’ve been doing the job for a certain amount of time?

Should ‘I am new’  be banned and replaced with ‘I do not know’? 

Will using the latter prod us into taking a more active role in our learning/development journey?

Of course, cognitive expenses become overwhelming at this point, and my little brain gives up. All I have decided at this point is if the guy tells me he is new one more time…

…I do not know what I am going to do.

2 thoughts on “How Often Should You Play the “I’m New Here” Card to get Out of Tough Situations

  1. Funny but I feel your aggravation. If he said that to me again, I’d probably throw it back in his face by asking, “Really? When did you start?”

    Like

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