There is something wrong with being nice all the time. Opening the door for people at the bank, waving a car ahead of you at a confusing four-way stop, or saying, “yes please” after every item added to your Subway sandwich. Are these really meaningful or just gestures to make me feel better about myself?
My mother told me once that I was the perfect child. Well behaved, patient, tender, and obedient. I think she wanted to believe these traits were an outcome of her skillful parenting style, but my older sister contradicted. One of the stories that my sister will never live down was when my mother made an ultimatum. Our dog, a Chinese Pug, had eaten a hole in the garbage bag for the twenty-seventh time, and my mother made one of those rash statements in anger, “Either the dog goes or I go.” My sister, who loved the dog replied as a shameless six-year old, “Don’t worry mommy, we’ll visit you.” She would never live those words down but at least she was honest.
I, on the other hand, seemed incapable of saying anything that was not nice. It became my inherent flaw. As a third grader I even tried to obey that Jesus quote which states, “Turn the other cheek.” Even following it when facing the red-haired freckle-faced bullies that tormented me on the playground as well as the classroom. I can remember trying to be kind and share my pencils and paper with the greedy little bastards. They weren’t even bigger than me but they still had one up, I was a slave to being nice.
Now, as young adult, my bullies come in a different form. My job at a small film company has introduced me to many of them. The problem with these bullies is that they don’t just have my favorite pencils in their possession; they have my hard-earned money. I can recall one instance when I had finished a sizable job that agreed to pay $1200. The employer paid me in installments but had stopped at half. Being nice, I sent a few invoices and made some polite calls that usually ended with a promise stating, “We’ll send the check very soon” which I later found actually means never. Becoming agitated, I bottled up my anger until I heard the best advice I’ve ever received from a guy I work with. He told me, “Craig, sometimes you just need to find your inner asshole.” It was true, finally embracing my anger and becoming honest with myself I intensified my voice as I called my employer successfully negotiating the remaining $600.
I believe in finding my inner asshole. Though generally it is good to be pleasant to one another there is nothing like the honesty that comes when being a jerk. It is the uncensored version of myself that says things as they are instead of adding a thick layer of courtesy. Like a concealed weapon, the simple presents of an inner asshole comforts its owner and demands respect from everyone else.