How To Create A Monster

I fear I have created a monster.


I was sat on the train approaching my stop when the train manager’s voice came through the speaker. His voice had a personality. He made a slight joke, changing Sandwell & Dudley to, “Dundwell and Sadley,” and following up with, “So good, they named it twice.” His light manner with a slight hint of sarcasm was actually a breath of fresh air. I looked around to see other commuters smiling at this.


Usually, the train manager sounds like he is slowly being killed by his job. Like he started the job with all good intentions, but the constant dealing with the general public has ground him down to a mere shadow of his former self and he now sits quietly questioning his life choices and he also thinks his wife is having an affair and his children hate him despite his staff discount on rail travel. This comes across in their usual announcements.


But the endearing message from our affable train manager today was good to hear. So much so, that I took to twitter about it.


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It’s important to get positive feedback. It’s encouraging, a nice thing to do and despite my normal grumpy exterior I am actually trying to be more positive this year, hence the positive outpouring of appreciation. Okay, maybe not an outpouring. It was just a tweet.


Anyway, I received a reply.



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A few days later, I was on the train heading back. Then the train manager’s voice came over the speaker, “We are now approaching Sandwell & Dudley, that’s Dundwell and Sadley, so good they named it twice!” It was the same guy but something was different. It just wasn’t the same. He’s obviously had the feedback I had given and that had given him a lift and that’s great but, he had become over enthusiastic and too contrived. He was trying too hard to be the comedian. He no longer had the endearing quality that made him so likeable before. He was now, if anything, a bit annoying. Annoying in a kind of Holiday park rep way.


I looked around the carriage. Not a single smile on the faces of my fellow commuters. This was a Friday too so this should have been an easy audience to please! No, his genuine, slightly sarcastic and likeable quality had gone. What had I done? I was Frankenstein and I had created a wannabe comedian train conductor who was now annoying. I’m to blame for this!


But it’s not the first time I’ve done this. A few years ago I was friendly with one of my neighbours.


He was into writing poetry and he also enjoyed playing guitar. “Well, effectively, you could be a song writer then,” I said like a bloody idiot. He then began to write songs and became a bit obsessive about it.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of exploring creativity and I would always encourage that, but then he started singing and, well, it wasn’t the best. Too nice to say anything negative, I continued to encourage it. He didn’t have a bad voice….. for a car alarm.


Then he played his first gig and of course, friends and family showed support for him. I was also there showing support and applauding after each song. With the sudden rush of fame, it fuelled his fire even more and while he continued to practice loudly songs about his ex-wife, his current wife patiently put up with it whilst cringing and secretly hating my guts for it.


They’re not together anymore and I am certain I’m not to blame for their amicable split. However I can’t help but think that his daily practicing, and the pain that inflicted on his wife, only fuelled her fire and sadly (and dundwell), that was down to me.


So, the moral of the story? Sometimes a positive intention creates monsters who become unlikeable to the public.


Or you’ll start a chain of events that can ruin a marriage.


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