What a regular person sees:
What an asshole sees:
If you are an asshole, you know that being one takes a lot out of you, with very little payback. So much so that maybe you might've recently thought, "Say, perhaps life might be easier and less stressful if I didn't spend so much time being such an asshole to the people around me."
Of course, you're a realist. You know you probably can't just stop being one completely. After all, you've been an asshole for what, 40 years now? So it's not like you can just stop. You've spent decades standing in supermarket lines behind people who choose to pay for groceries with a check but refuse to get out their checkbook until they're standing in front of the cashier, where they write out their payment with slooooooow, painstaking care for their penmanship. You've tapped your foot at them.
You've gotten snippy and assholish with baristas across the city who take forever to pour you one cup of coffee. With people who take too much time at the light. You've actually snapped at McDonald's employees for getting your order wrong.
And let's not talk about what you're like when you drive. Let's not even try to tug on that thread.
Inevitably, there comes day when every asshole wake up and says, "You know, maybe today could be the day I decide to exhibit a little more patience with the world! A famous person once said that showing a little bit of grace to one's fellow man costs nothing. Today could be the day that I take that idea to heart. I could start putting myself in the shoes of others, and not get so pissy with them just because their world doesn't revolve around me, a person they don't even know. Today could be a New Leaf Day! Goodbye Asshole, hello Kinder, Gentler Soul!"
And you feel great! You have this great plan! This No More Assholery Plan! You love this plan! With this plan, you could experience what all those Up with People people always sing about!
That was me earlier today. I'd had a slightly rough morning rushing around the house as my wife, daughter and I were all getting ready to head out to work/school. I wasn't being a full-blown asshole, but I could feel myself working my way up to it. I had that foreboding feeling. If you're an asshole, you know what I'm talking about -- that feeling that you're about to morph into an asshole at any minute, and you can't do anything about it. It's like The Hulk, only not awesome.
So as my daughter and I left the house, I checked myself and made the big decision not to be an asshole today. As the Mini-Pirate and I buckled ourselves into the car, I decided that I didn't have to be an asshole if I didn't want to be. I didn't have to get all pissed and impatient and jerky with people who might cut me off, or take the last bagel, or show up late for a meeting. Not if I didn't want to. I was the boss of me.
It felt good. I felt empowered. It was 7:30 a.m., and I'd not only taken command of my day, but I quite possibly kickstarted a Life Change. Good for me!
We pulled out of the driveway.
At 7:32 a.m., we turned the corner onto a street that's been crowded with some sort of re-construction off and on for the last six months. Just as I was about to drive down the street, a construction guy set up a Detour sign right in front of us. He pointed at me, then jerked his thumb towards a left turn he wanted me to take to get, a circuitous path out of the neighborhood. I've seen him before. He had the ethos of someone who clearly thinks he's in charge of the neighborhood, a bored king who thinks his subjects are idiots.
I looked him in the eye, revved the engine, zoomed around the sign he was setting up, and drove straight down the street he wanted me to avoid, ignoring his sign and his gestured instruction. Irritated.
Oh. And slowed down just enough to make sure he'd see me flipping him off. For doing his job.
Daughter was in the backseat reading. She didn't see. This time.