Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out.
Saturday, August 3, 2013
When You Regret a Good Deed
Good deeds can be a fickle bitch. Even if you have demon
parents who taught you nothing but destruction and gloom, you're still
bombarded from birth with messages of "Help your fellow man" from
virtually every song, movie, TV show, and video game in existence. But if
you've been alive long enough to read and understand these words, you've most
likely hit a stretch where it seems like no matter how much good you try to do,
no one appreciates it. Hell, many of you probably work jobs where good deeds
and extra effort aren't even acknowledged.
The hard part about good deeds, even if they're something
simple like carrying groceries or delousing the neighbor's yak, is dealing with
the dark void of no recognition. Or at the very least, understanding why people
didn't accept your gesture while belting out Journey's "Open Arms."
It's hard to keep in mind that:
Some People Just Don't Know How to React
When I'm in public, I'm painfully polite. I let people pass
by first in a crowded aisle. I allow the person holding four items to check out
before I pull up with my massive cart full of Red Bull and dildos. And I always
hold doors open for people. The door thing is a problem for me.
Nothing will 180 my mood faster than offering a kind gesture
and not even receiving a "Fuck you and everybody who lives in your
house" in return. If I hold a door for someone and the person walks by
without even acknowledging me, I cannot stop myself from shooting a smartass
comment at him or her in my head as I walk away. It's usually something simple,
like "The correct response is 'thank you,' fuckass." But I always
want to follow it up with a suplex and maybe an elbow to the neck.
What's hard to remember is that most of us have grown up in
a society that teaches caution toward and exclusion of strangers, nd with the
sheer amount of violence and crime that spackles the news, I don't really blame
them. I'll teach my kids to avoid strangers like Nickelback avoids depth.
To me, the person walking past in silence is an uppity,
entitled piece of shit, thinking, "Yeah, you better hold the door for me,
peasant." But to them, it's most likely "Don't make eye contact. Oh
shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit ..." Either way, I walk away pissed off,
and one day I'm going to say the wrong combination of "fuck" and
"yourself," and the recipient is going to charge me like a rabid
You Open Yourself Up to Be Their Personal Service Person
Every single "friend who is good with computers"
knows exactly what I'm talking about here. A friend or family member's computer
goes to shit because they haven't quite learned that not all boobs are free --
some are secretly malware cannons. Or they did virtually anything at all,
because the Internet is a clusterfuck that requires 50 layers of protection in
order to navigate. So they give you a call, and being the nice angelic person
that you are, you merrily skip right over and spend the rest of the night unfucking
their porn box.
Maybe they provide you with a free dinner and it feels
pretty good to help someone out. Until they call you again the next week to
come over and fix it again.
"Oh, this shouldn't take long. Can you bring me a
hammer and a blowtorch?"
And then twice a month for the rest of your life. Even if
you're not physically there, it doesn't stop them from calling and asking you
how to do it themselves, which you know for a fact means that you're about to
be on the most frustrating phone call of all time, most likely for a couple of
hours, as they clumsily slap around their keyboard. You're pretty sure that at
one point you're going to have to remind them that they can't eat the mouse.
It's not just "computer people" who get shafted
with this. Any service-based profession is a potential target. I'm sure there
are tons of mechanics reading this article thinking, "Yeah, sure, I can
diagnose your car problem over the phone without ever looking at it, based on
noises you're making with your mouth. And sure, I can make you understand
what's wrong. Get comfortable while I teach you the entire inner workings of
the combustion engine."
It seems like the worst possible response to a favor -- to
assume that it implies infinite future favors -- but it's less about them being
greedy time leeches and more about assuming you now "own" this
problem. When any problem comes up in the future, they (not unreasonably) just
assume it's related to the previous one, so they think it's just following up
on the last thing and that it'll thus be easy to fix. If their geeky nephew
knows how to fix "their Internet," why start over from scratch with
somebody else and have to re-explain everything? So the call goes something
like, "Hey, my Internet is doing that thing again, can you do what you did
last time?" "Sure, remind me what 'thing' it's doing?" "You
know. That thing where it stops working properly. Remember? And you fixed it by
spending 14 hours re-installing every single piece of software I own?"
It doesn't take long to start regretting the initial offer
to help once that cycle starts.
Many of Us Don't Know How to Give a Compliment
I don't know if this is a new trend or not, but I can't
remember it happening much before the Internet. At least not at its current
frequency. Then again, when I was growing up, I didn't have access to tens of
thousands of people on places like Twitter. But what I've noticed in recent
years is that people have a really hard time giving just a simple, honest
compliment. It seems like it always has to come with some sort of barb or
backhand. I don't know what causes it, but I see it constantly. And I'm not the
For every single writer people talk to for every site,
"You're the best writer on this site. You're the only reason I even still
visit this shithole." Or "I love your work. You're so much better
than that piece of shit Chad Writerperson."
Aside from the occasional troll, these people don't mean any
harm by it. In fact, they mean the opposite. They read something they liked,
and they went out of their way to tell the writer. I find that admirable,
because most of the feedback people hear in the creative industry is negative.
I just don't think they ever learned how to phrase those compliments in a way
that's sincere and to the point. I guess it's a skill like anything else. It's
just weird that our natural instinct is to balance out the positive with a
Of course, on the other side of that coin ...
I mean, if the police are complimenting me on how easy I am
to detain and how beautiful my penis captures the sunlight and shades my lower
body, what do I say to that? "I know"?
I wish there were a class for stuff like this, because those
communication breakdowns cause way more problems than they're worth and I think
that's one reason people shy away from good deeds. I guess that's why people
say to just do them and not expect anything in return. The important part is
that you did something admirable for a fellow human, right? At least I wish it
were that simple.