The Primacy Effect

You might be wondering what the title means. What is “The Primacy Effect”? That’s a very good question. The Primacy Effect is essentially the saying, “First impressions last a lifetime.” That is to say, once you’ve made a bad first impression, it’s never going to get better.

Enter my second year of university. This happened back in January of 2013, though I can’t remember if this was before or after the break up. Not that it matters anyway as my ex-girlfriend has no relevance to this story whatsoever.

Being a theatre minor, I was taking a theatre class called Backstage. It’s exactly how it sounds, you just do various different things backstage to the plays that were being performed. For this particular play I was a House Manager. (It doesn’t need to be capitalised but I decided to anyway to feel more important.)

There’s this guy named Brayden who I’ve been friends with since grade 10. Since he was in an intro theatre class in the university, being the assistant house manager helped him get all of the backstage hours he needed to get ten percent in the course in just a couple of weeks. Since I’m an awesome friend and I got to choose who my assistant was going to be, I chose him.

So he and I worked together to make sure things ran as smoothly as possible. So what does any of this have to do with first impressions? Calm down, reader, I’m getting to that.

One of the things I had to do was put up a sign-up sheet for any other intro theatre students who needed backstage hours so that they could sign-up as ushers. Basically there were four different types of ushers: cashier, juice stand, early usher and late usher. The cashier and the assistant house manager ran the ticket booth together, taking money and giving people their tickets. The juice stand person sold t-shirts and poured juice for people both before the show started and during intermission (50 cents a cup). The early usher handed out programs and could leave when the show started and the late usher took the tickets from people and guarded the door to make sure no one got in or out once the show began.

So now let me tell you about this guy named Will. He signed up to be a juice stand guy four times. Oh Will, he’s so misunderstood…but not really, he’s just an asshole. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Will is the guy who made a bad first impression. Sure Brayden and I laugh about it all the time, but only because it was so…weird.

So the first day that Will was supposed to be working, he showed up a couple hours early. I was in my office goofing off on the computer and Brayden was still at home. Will walks into the office and looks around a bit. I stared at him, unsure of who he was or what he wanted. After a few moments of awkward silence I spoke up.

“Can I help you?”

“Yeah,” he said, “I’m looking for Stephen.”

“I’m Stephen,” I said.

He started laughing…a lot. Like, more than a normal person should at a statement that is not humorous in the slightest.

“Oh,” he finally said. “You’re Stephen! I was told Stephen was this big guy, but you’re a short little fuck.”

And yes, he actually said that. I swear to God, I am not making any of this up. The first impression that I got from him was him calling me a “short little fuck”. I just stared at him in an unamused way. When he finally stopped laughing, he said that he’ll be back later he was going to the computer lab. I was thankful when he finally left.

But that wasn’t the end of ol’ Will. Remember, he had four shifts for this play. Everyone’s impression of him got worse and worse.

I believe this was his second or third shift, but all of the ushers were there and getting ready before the audience members started showing up to buy tickets. This one usher – I believe it was a guy named Jared – was talking to Brayden about a video game. I don’t remember exactly which video game it was, but that’s besides the point.

Anyway, Will decided that he needed to be involved in this conversation even though he most certainly didn’t.

“So, what?” He asked, “Are you like, a nerd or something?”

“Uh,” Brayden said, “we play video games…like everyone else our age.”

“Oh,” he said, “I don’t play video games. I just bought like this 70 inch plasma TV for my house and it has games built into it. But I haven’t played any of those.”

“Okay…” Brayden said. “Good for you.”

Honestly, if I could’ve fired him I probably would’ve.

He had his hardcore rap music blasting from his phone as audience members started showing up. He was standing at the juice stand with his music blasting. Lots of curse words and sexual references in the songs he was listening to.

I went up to him and told him that he can’t have the music playing with people coming in.

He said, “I know.” And then slightly turned down the music.

I said to him, “No, don’t lower the volume. Turn off the music.”

“Oh, okay.” He said, and turned off the music.

Thankfully he did listen. Even though I was a “short little fuck” he still knew that I was in charge and could easily revoke hours from him if he didn’t cooperate.

Brayden and I were both so thankful when his final shift was done. That meant no more having to deal with him. Then shortly after the play was done I heard that he dropped out of the theatre class. After all that I had suffered through, it was all for nothing. Thanks, Will.

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