Lately I’ve been a little worried. I’ve spent a few years out of college, and whoever I end up being out here is who I am, likely for a very long time. And while I always assumed I was a fairly pleasant person who would gladly assist his fellow humans in times of strife, there have been a few red flags that have contradicted that whole line of thought.
Well, ok, let’s say there have been more than few warning signs that maybe, just maybe, I am becoming a bona fide asshole. This is a new worry for me, but it’s also a serious one. If at all possible, I would prefer not to go down this path.
And I wanted to take this opportunity to share some of my personal low-points in the hope that some of my fellow borderline assholes out there might take a step back with me and at least consider reorienting their general vibe to something less antagonistic.
Experiencing elevated anger levels while driving or on public transit.
This is not a new one. Ever since I learned to drive, and quickly learned how awful most people are at driving, myself included, I’ve noticed that just being inside a car sets up a feeling of conflict. Everyone outside the car is the enemy, or at least the potential enemy. Cyclists suddenly seem inconsiderate and oblivious to the world outside themselves. Anyone with a fast car is automatically a prick who will inevitably drift into your lane and ruin your life with an insurance fiasco. And while on public transit, everyone outside the people-carrier is inconsiderate, oblivious to the world outside themselves, so selfish they have their own vehicles, and they don’t even carpool.
Feeling dissatisfaction with your general situation despite making no effort to change it.
This involves a lot of time spent at home, usually in a shitty apartment with at least two varieties of pest any given time of year. It also tends to feature overreactions to any kind of unwanted noise from the street or your terrible neighbors. It seems like all your friends have nice places, nice jobs, and get laid regularly. What were the awful decisions that led to this absolute mediocrity? Your buddy suggests applying for better jobs, taking some classes, maybe even doing some networking. But that stuff isn’t fun. This is better, sitting at home, waiting for things to improve.
Cooking things that involve violent prep work.
You keep the fridge consistently stocked with eggs. You don’t even like baking that much, but goddamn, it’s so satisfying to split the shells against the side of a Pyrex bowl. You do a lot of juicing, by hand, crushing half a lemon in your fist, feeling the fibers break inside of it. You dice everything: the meat, the veggies, the herbs, the coarse-ground black pepper flakes. Slices are not enough. Everything needs to be chopped up smaller than your last remaining glimmer of hope for the future.
Watching videos of random middle school talent shows.
You know they’re gonna be awful and that’s the whole appeal. There will be kids who think that using a pogostick successfully for more than 15 seconds qualifies as a talent. There will be kids who think they can sing because they watched a few old clips of Ella Fitzgerald and assume they have basically the same vocal range. And you’ll get to sit there and laugh at these very stupid children, who thought they were special without making any real effort at getting good at something.
Sure, you might not have hit these low points for yourself, but if even one person has a moment of reflection as a result, that’s a step forward, right? If there’s anything we’ve learned in the last few years, it’s that we have a major surplus of assholes, and it’s getting old.