Are you a nice person? Because I tell myself I’m a nice person all the time but you could absolutely make an argument that I’m not. I’m selfish and in a bind or any situation where I’m even slightly uncomfortable I’m looking out for numero uno over anyone who isn’t a blood relative.
In the past, I’ve viewed the outside world as nothing more than a bunch of assholes out to get me. I’m a cynic. Sarcasm, an ironic sense of detachment, and an A- in Psych 101 my freshman year of college made me think that I can say and do what I want without repercussion or judgement. I only realized that I couldn’t go through life acting like this after a girl I used to speak to quite frequently just ceased all communication with me. A few weeks ago on a trip out of town a guy I had never met came up to me at a party and asked me where I was from. It just so happened that the two of us grew up about two miles away from each other, and when he said, “Wow. Crazy. We’re basically cousins” I responded (with a smile on my face) by saying, “Ehhhh. No. Not at all, actually.”
Now, if you were a passerby in this conversation you’d say, “Wow, you’re kind an asshole, John. Not a great way to respond.” But I followed that up “I’m only joking. Good to meet you.” And that was the end of the conversation. I didn’t mean for it come off as malicious in any way. I was doing something which I genuinely found to be humorous but is in fact, not humorous to others. I’m working on that. Seriously. I’m making a concerted effort to just be nicer to people because I’m slowly learning that I’m rubbing others the wrong way by refusing to slap a filter on. And I found out as the sun was still rising this morning that I’m doing better.
I may have been changing the song on my iPhone this morning when I rear-ended a red Mercedes-Benz SUV just past a stoplight. It all happened so fast. The two-lane road which takes me onto the highway every morning was particularly busy today. We were bumper-to-bumper, and I estimate that I was going less than two miles per hour when I hit the back of this SUV.
I barely tapped the thing. She knew it. I knew it. Anyone who was paying attention in a different car could surmise that there was no damage. And as the woman driving her Benz put her blinker on to pull from the left to the right lane and eventually to the side of the road the only thing that crossed my mind as I mirrored her movements was this – “What if I just got on the highway right now?”
Someone undoubtedly saw me rear-end this woman. And other than the penalties for hit and run in Texas (assuming someone did see me and get my plates) the worst thing that could have happened is that this woman in her Mercedes would have realized what I had done and muttered “what an asshole” under her breath. But at 7:20 in the morning on the worst day of the week I decided to not be the asshole. I got out of my car, apologized profusely, and was back on the road in less than three minutes. I’m not to the point where I won’t call someone a pseudo-intellectual if they tell me they think The Simpsons or South Park is the smartest show on television, but I’m getting there. I still think most people I meet are corny dickheads and that I’m the smartest person in any room I walk into, but I’m hoping I can change at least a little bit. It’s good to have confidence when you walk into a room with people you don’t know but I could probably stand to keep some thoughts to myself from now on. This morning was a small step towards being a more balanced human being. I’ve still got some work to do, though. .
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