Wednesday, July 02, 2008

I'm really not a jerk...

...but I could be wrong. Sure, I have my moments. Those of us who are cynical and sarcastic have naturally inherent, deep-rooted jerk tendencies. It's like a zebra trying to tell you it's not a horse. Dude, you're strange looking, and it's odd that you talk, but you are definitely a member of the horse family.
I guess I should say I don't think I'm a jerk all the time. Or more accurately, I'm not as big a jerk as I could be. I think the keys are discretion and restraint. Picking your spots and not always unloading with both barrels is important. I haven't always been good at either of those things but I think I've improved with age.
For instance, here's something that happened recently...
I used to work in the sports and entertainment industry. I did that for over 20 years. As a result, I've met people in the industry with whom I remain friends (that's not the jerk part of the story, I don't really know anybody powerful or influential, mostly just ham-and-egger working stiffs like me. I'm just giving you background to set-up what follows). I recently had tickets to a show at a nearby venue. I mentioned this to a friend who happened to work there. She invited me to come by early, beat the crowd and visit for a little while. I told her I would and if she needed help with anything, I could kill time by pitching in. As it turns out, nothing needed to be done when I arrived and I was just sitting there peacefully, minding my business, not hurting anyone, not even in a restricted area, waiting to make chit-chat with my friend. Now that I think about it, if people would just leave me alone, I could probably get by in life without ever being a jerk. To anyone! That's probably never going to happen though, because for whatever reason, I'm somebody who seems not only approachable but fuck-withable to strangers, especially those with attitude.
So as I was sitting there, perfectly well-behaved, serene and happy, a volunteer usher named Russell came up to me and asked, "Are you the sound man?" I answered no. "Well, are you the lighting guy?" No again. "Well, who are you then?" I smiled and said, "I'm just here to help out if needed. I guess I'm a volunteer." He said "You don't look like a volunteer. You're not wearing a black t-shirt, you don't have a nametag and you didn't bring a flashlight." He was right. I had none of those things. So I told him I was actually a guest of his supervisor, which was true, but ready to help if necessary. I felt a little jerkness for playing that card, but I was polite and I figured that would end it.
I went back to happily minding my own business as Russell started giving a lecture to some other ushers on the science of how to read tickets (yes, seriously). For no good reason whatsoever, he decided to sneer at me and call me out. "You might want to take some notes on this." Damn it, why?!? Why, why, why did he have to go and make me to want to say, "Let me tell you something...Russell? Is that what it says on your little paper nametag there? Here's the thing, Russell; I've worked professionally in the sports and entertainment industry in venue management for over 20 years. I've been all over this particular venue dozens of times. And I've seen more tickets in my life than you have ass pimples. Now, I have no idea how many ass pimples you actually have but I'm guessing it's a lot. Regardless of all those facts, I've taken such an immediate and intense dislike to you and your attitude that not only do I not want to take note of what you're saying right now, but I can not imagine a single circumstance on earth that would make me take the slightest interest in anything you say, up to and including 'help me, help me, wolverines are tearing my flesh, please dear god, help me' and that's something I'd normally at least turn around to see. And just for the record, I didn't bring it with me, but I do have a flashlight and it's considerably bigger than yours."
However, I didn't say that. It would take a real jerk to say that to someone. Instead, and I have no idea why, since I only saw the movie once and it was when it came out back in 1991, I quoted the t-shirt Bill Murray wore in 'What About Bob?' and said "Don't hassle me. I'm local." See?
Okay, I really am a jerk.

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