Two Types of People
A short story
Christopher D. Bennett
He wasn’t the type of person that was nervous about missing his flight, so he would get to the airport 45 minutes before his plane’s scheduled departure. He had a checklist in his mind of all the things that could possibly go wrong.
All the parking lots are full.
The line at ticketing was too long.
The line at security was too long.
He got selected for special screening by TSA.
Yet he could never really make himself care. It wasn’t just that he had made it despite cutting it a little close to departure time that gave him joy as he found an empty seat near his gate. It was that he was also the type of person that was a people watcher. There were few better places in the world than an airport for him to pretend that his fellow homo sapiens were in a zoo. Caught in their native lands and transported to this place for his amusement.
He even wished that he would be allowed to throw food at some of these people. He was also that type of person. The type that is smugly secure in his own sense of superiority. The type of person that some of his friends called an elitist.
He wondered, with a look on his face that certainly belied his thoughts to any observant person that was looking at him as if he was in a cage, why he found his other humans fascinating. They really shouldn’t be all that interesting. After all, there are only two types of people.
It was his paternal grandfather that had often looked at him and said, “There are only two types of people in the world. There are men and there are women.”
This phrase was often uttered by his grandpa when his grandma was on his grandpa’s case about helping her in the kitchen or because he had failed to complete some task that she had assigned him. It was a statement made out of love. His grandparents shared a special kind of love that he had never seen in any other people. He supposed that their special bond could only be forged in the fires of the Great Depression and World War II, but he also supposed that he wasn’t really sure what his grandpa was trying to say with this phrase. Other than men and women are different.
He did know that there were only two types of people.
Only he knew that he didn’t know that.
His maternal grandfather was a different type of guy from this paternal grandfather. His paternal grandfather was very calm and sedate. He thought long about decisions and was slow to act. His maternal grandfather was type of guy that would fly off the handle and make rash decisions. He would often have outbursts of verbalism that he would regret by the end of a day. He could be described as a scrapper. He was always looking for an angle. Not necessarily a con man, but he would definitely take every inch that he could.
He had a very vivid memory of his maternal grandfather negotiating a nickel off a pound of a cut of pig at a meat locker when he was a kid. He and the clerk had a very heated exchange before the clerk gave him the nickel discount. At the time, it seemed the clerk waivered just to get rid of him.
After his victory, his maternal grandpa bent over and looked him in the eye and told him, “There are two types of people in the world. Those that get taken and those that do the takin’”.
It dawned on him that this meant that there actually had to be 4 types of people in the world.
- Men that are takers.
- Men that get taken.
- Women that are takers.
- Women that get taken.
While it was possible that all takers in the world are men and all the people that get taken are women or vice-versa, personal experience told him that this wasn’t true. There are definitely four and only four types of people in the world.
He stared across the terminal. The sun was blaring in through the windows on the opposite side of his seat. It made it almost hard to see.
An elderly woman across from him began digging through her purse. Her hairstyle reminded him of his mom. He hoped this lady didn’t suffer from some of the same peccadillos.
It was a position he couldn’t defend rationally, but it always bugged him that his mom salted her ketchup. Very clearly, he was very staunch in this position, the proper way to eat French fries is to salt the fries.
At 10 years old, in Mondt’s Diner he had come to this conclusion. He had never once remotely wavered on this position.
He and his mom had stopped there for lunch after his haircut one Saturday morning. They had bother ordered bacon cheeseburgers with a side of fries. His mom dropped a healthy amount of Heinz ketchup (at least she knew the proper amount of ketchup to use) on her plate and then picked up a green glass salt shaker and dispensed a way too large amount of NaCl on top of the red glob of goodness.
She had, he was certain, engaged in this abomination her entire life, but this was certainly the first time he had noticed.
“Ummm…. What are you DOING?!?” he stammered out.
“That!” He pointed at her plate in disgust.
She gave him a quizzical look.
“You are putting SALT on your CATSUP!” When he was 10 he spelled ketchup, catsup.
“It’s good that way.” She paused. “You should try it.”
She grabbed the salt shaker and moved it menacingly towards his plate. He pulled his plate away from her and covered his ketchup with his hand to protect it.
She stopped. Put the salt shaker back on the table.
“Listen,” she started, “As you get older you are going to find that there are two types of people in the world. People that salt their ketchup and people who salt their fries. I’m telling you this now, but what you will have to learn for yourself is this… what does it say about a person, what they salt?”
It didn’t take long for him to cement in his opinion. The type of person that salts their ketchup is a bad type of person. His older sister had a boyfriend that salted his ketchup. He knew right away that this new beau was not a good person and he celebrated the day they had their last fight.
Hitler salted his ketchup. Now there is no historical evidence to suggest this, which he knew of, but he had no doubt that it was true.
He liked his mom. He was certain that she eventually would come around. But she definitely played in the realm of darkness when she salted her ketchup.
He guessed that must mean that there are actually eight types of people in the world.
- Men who are takers and salt their ketchup.
- Men who are takers and salt their fries.
- Men who get taken and salt their ketchup.
- Men who get taken and salt their fries.
- Women who are takers and salt their ketchup.
- Women who are takers who salt their fries.
- Women who get taken and salt their ketchup.
- Women who get taken and salt their fries.
That was it though. There are eight different types of people.
His Galaxy 6S rumbled in his pocket. He dug into his pocket and stared at the screen. He had received a text message from his girlfriend.
“Where do you want to eat tonight?”
He had a direct flight home and she was picking him up from the airport. While he was pretty sure he might, maybe, kinda, sorta, love her. He did not want to have the where-do-you-want-to-eat-tonight-conversation.
He knew there was no way to win this conversation. He wanted pizza. He knew that no matter what he suggested first, she would want something else.
He texted back, “I don’t care. You can pick.”
She texted back, “I don’t know. Isn’t there anything you want? ;-)”
“I’m not feeling pizza.”
He thought about it. Then something else occurred to him. Maybe the only two types of people in the world are people that can make decisions and people that cannot. His girlfriend definitely could not.
This seemed to be a good theory, but he knew that his two grandfathers and his mom were all wise people.
So the truth must be that there are 16 types of people in the world:
- Men that are takers that salt their fries and can make decisions.
- Men that are takers that salt their fries and cannot make decisions.
- Men that are takers that salt their ketchup and can make decisions.
- Men that are takers that salt their ketchup and cannot make decisions.
- Men that get taken that salt their fries and can make decisions.
- Men that get taken that salt their fries and cannot make decisions.
- Men that get taken that salt their ketchup and can make decisions.
- Men that get taken that salt their ketchup and cannot make decisions.
- Women that are takers that salt their fries and can make decisions.
- Women that are takers that salt their fries and cannot make decisions.
- Women that are takers that salt their ketchup and can make decisions.
- Women that are takers that salt their ketchup and cannot make decisions.
- Women that get taken that salt their fries and can make decisions.
- Women that get taken that salt their fries and cannot make decisions.
- Women that get taken that salt their ketchup and can make decisions.
- Women that get taken that salt their ketchup and cannot make decisions.
There are 16 types of people in the world. No more. No less. Although he could make a case that the type of person that salts their ketchup probably also cannot make decisions. Maybe there are only fourteen types of people in the world.
He texted back, “Getting on the plane. Will decide when I get in.”
He knew this was just punting the painful conversation down the road, but that was okay. Today he didn’t feel like being the type of person that made decisions.
As he put his Galaxy S6 back in his pocket a guy in skinny jeans and an ironic 80s band t-shirt sat in the seat next to him.
They exchanged a brief glance as if to say, “Hey, I acknowledge that we both exist and are sitting in close proximity to one another, but we don’t have to make a thing out of it.”
Then the guy reached into his pocket and pulled out his iPhone 6.
Great, he thought. This is that type of guy. An Apple fan boy.
Over the loud speaker a falsely cheerful female voice belted out, “Now boarding Zone 3 for flight 1576.”
Good, he thought, he didn’t want to be the type of guy that lied to his girlfriend. Even about little things. Even better since he didn’t want to sit any longer next to the type of guy he was sitting next to right now. Hopefully they weren’t anywhere near each other on the flight.
As he grabbed his carry-on he had one last thought, “That guy is probably one of the four kind of guys that puts salt on their ketchup.”