Beware of Dismissive People

I remember when I was a kid, my mother watching then Vice President Nelson Rockefeller (search) at some hearing on Capitol Hill. I don't even remember what the hearing was about. But I do remember my mother getting ticked off watching Rockefeller.

She didn't like the way he snapped his fingers at an aide, practically shouting for some file, then just dismissing the same aide off with the wave of a hand... all the while not once looking at her.

"Have you ever seen such a jerk?" she asked me.

To this day, I don't know why she got all hot and bothered by something so relatively trivial, until I saw something much like that behavior yesterday.

A big name personality — don't worry, not from this place — waved off a couple of fans, I think, seeking his autograph.

He had no time for them, which would be fine, if he simply said, "Look, I'm running late."

But he didn't. He just ignored them — repeatedly — and climbed into a limo without once acknowledging them, or even looking at them.

They seemed so disappointed. Witnessing his behavior, I wondered why.

Look, I'm not here to embarrass this quasi-celebrity, but to latch onto my Mom's wisdom.

She was right then about arrogant people. She's right now, even though sadly, she's gone now.

But not a day goes by I don't think about a cardinal rule she would drill in my head again and again and again: "Neil, it's not what you carry on your resume, but what you carry in your heart."

My father was more succinct in his inimitable Italian way: "Just because you have a big head, son, doesn't give you the right to act that way."

You see, even then they were preparing their son for life and for the little things that define it, not the big egos that sometimes refuse to even see it.

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