Tom’s Law #42
As a devout [insert religion here], whenever possible, I only do business with other [insert religion here]. That way, when things inevitably go to shit, I can viciously write about them on my public [insert religion here] blog and foment animosity and dissent within the entire congregation. Verily, I say unto you, halleluja!
—When [insert religion here] Attack, by Tom B. Taker
Let’s leave the specific religion out of it, too. I pledge not to go sectarian on their asses even when they deserve it.
So, this guy I know is quite the character. As someone who has suffered in his vicinity (we all have our crosses to bear) I do get the odd thrill of delight when someone meets him for the first time. I get to feel validated and vindicated in my feelings as my various hypotheses about him are confirmed by the newcomer going through the same process I did.
That’s when I realized there are actual laws at work that govern this reactionary process. I have dubbed this theory The Five Stages of Beef. It’s what happens when a person meets someone of humanoid condition Type A. Of course, we all know that the “A” stands for Asshole.
You only get one chance to make a first impression. When you meet this particular guy you are on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride of the Senses. As you meet him for the first time you’re in for a wallop.
Visually eclectic, he has the disheveled pointing-straight-up hair of three-year-old who just rolled out of bed. Your nose, however, will simultaneously pick up on the fact that he didn’t shower before putting on disheveled, dirty and wrinkled clothes. He’s also a man who also clings to fiercely held personal beliefs like anti-bacterial handsoap is stupid and deodorant is a marketing scheme. He’s not afraid to put those beliefs into action, either. You’ll get your smell-based verification of this as his body odor envelopes you.
This is when denial kicks in. Is this guy for real? Naw. It can’t be. This can’t be happening. Not to me.
Denial quickly gives way to anger, especially as you begin the tedious task of attempting to interact with him. He doesn’t make it easy. Pushy and arrogant, he interrupts you when you try to speak, dominates the discussion, pontificates about your area of expertise, and talks incessantly about himself. You feel yourself getting angrier with each passing moment.
It’s natural to feel angry. He has this effect on everyone.
You’re a professional. Get a grip! You feel angry? You’re supposed to be better than. You decide to shake it off, center yourself and get things back on track. Congratulations! You have reached the bargaining phase.
Maybe I can try a different tack, you say to yourself. This situation can still be salvaged. You might even blame yourself. That’s when I show up like a little angel floating over your shoulder to remind you, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.”
Bargaining won’t get you out of this one. You have underestimated your opponent.
Should I give up? Why bother? What’s the point?
If you find yourself turning to questions like this you have reached the depression phase. Don’t feel bad about it, though. It’s natural and besides? If you don’t go through all the steps you’ll never reach the end. And above all else, by now, you want it to end. You just want the ordeal to be over.
You’ve tried every trick in your arsenal and come up dry. There’s nothing left to do except throw in the towel. I can’t fight this. I might as well roll with it.
And make a mental note to avoid the asshole in the future.
Beaten down you settle in for the long haul. How long can this possibly last? Geez, this guy sure talks a lot. Try to think about things you have to do, like your grocery list. This will help pass the time.
Pretend to be interested. Maintain a protective shield of practiced congeniality. This, too, will pass.
You did it. You survived. You went in, you suffered, but you got out. You think it’s over.
But wait, there’s more. Come to find out that the asshole had a problem with you. WTF? And even though you took the high road and chalked the whole experience up to a life lesson with quiet dignity, the asshole won’t respond in quite the same way.
No. He’ll pounce on his church blog and say bad things about you. He’ll describe the way he perceived he was slighted and call you things, like “unprofessional” and “unethical.”
The same blog that many shared acquaintances in your church know about and read. Basically it’s a full-frontal assault on your reputation in the pond that you both share.
What’s the point of deliberately going out of your way to only do business with your fellow church mates if you can’t then turn things on their head and shout for all to hear, “Vengeance will be mine?”
After all, what are church friends really for?