Do you know the real problem with jerks?
The problem is that most jerks either don’t know they’re jerks or they don’t care. If you don’t care, then you’re really a jerk. However, if you do care, there’s hope.
Which leads me to why I’m writing this piece.
After writing and posting, “How to Handle a Jerk,” a few artists who loved the piece basically told me I should define the term, “jerk.” They really wanted me to use a well-known, stronger term to define “jerk.” We all know what it is, but I don’t feel the need to do so because ...
I’m trying not to be a jerk.
Anyway, before I actually look up the definition of “jerk” for the sake of accuracy if not argument, let give you my take on the “ideal” jerk.
To me, a jerk is someone who is extremely selfish. They really only care about their own agenda and how things will affect them. They have no problem stepping on others to get what they want and in fact, actually relish that.
I think jerks are also callous and dismissive. They really only care about people who are useful to them in some way. Otherwise, they’ll show you the door.
I think that “jerk” still tends to be a masculine term. You never think of women as “jerks,” but believe me, they’re out there. Women who are jerks are probably called, “bitches.”
I don’t know. Look … I don’t want to get into name-calling.
Okay. Let’s look it up. I’m going to Dictionary.com right now. Hold on …
FAST FORWARD 30 SECONDS …
Okay, I’m back.
Well, there are numerous definitions for “jerk,” but the slang definition is …
“A tedious and ineffectual person, esp a man; fool; ninny; ass; boob …”
There you have it. But I have to say that I think my definition is a bit more in line with how people see “jerks” in everyday life. Everybody has dealt with a jerk at work or someone who cuts you off on the interstate or blows cigarette smoke in your face.
You may not know the formal definition of a jerk, but you certainly know one when you see one. Given that, you should also know when you’re being a jerk.
I think the worse kind of jerks are those who aren’t aware of their jerky behavior. Jerks literally “jerk” your chain. They work your last nerve.
The problem and frustration with this type of jerk is that their habits and behavior aren’t only your problem, but also become your responsibility by default. If you don’t politely and tactfully alert them to their behavior, it will only continue or even get worse. That’s what sucks. You feel pressed into a position where you should actually say something, but why do you have to do it? You’ve got your own problems … them being one of them!
Do you know what I mean?
That’s why I think it’s easier to deal with people who already know they’re jerks. It’s much easier to call them out on their behavior and get them to self-correct. It’s like a sister dealing with her jerky brothers. She’s outnumbered, yet she usually does possess enough power to reign them in. She just has to use that power.
But again, people who don’t know they’re jerks are major pains in the butt because not only is their behavior an issue, but you’re also dealing with the fact that they’re probably also tone deaf. They probably don’t have any emotional intelligence. My guess is that they’re probably also very ego driven.
The last thing you want is a very powerful person who’s also a jerk. That’s a nightmare. Actually, aren’t we living that right now?
Once again, we have to remember that while men have indeed cornered the market on “jerkdom,” you don’t have to be a dude to be a jerk.
I remember not too long ago, I was entering my post office branch. As I opened the door, this woman came from out of nowhere and slipped through ahead of me as I was holding the door. She didn’t thank me or anything. Fine. Whatever. I moved on.
But then, believe it or not, as I was leaving the building – not five minutes later – I opened the exit door and this same woman slipped through again ahead of me.
I kid you not, after she slipped through, she looked back at me and went …
“Hee! Hee! Hee!”
Clearly, she was somewhat humorously embarrassed by the coincidence, but I must add, once again, she did not thank me for holding the door open.
I don’t want to be petty, but I must admit that at that moment, all I could think was …
While I didn’t necessarily need her gratitude, a “Thank You” would have been common courtesy … especially since she took advantage of me holding the door open – twice - primarily for myself to go through.
I was a jerk myself recently at Target. I was in a hurry for an appointment and I saw this young woman in line with a fairly large space between her and the guy ahead of her who was literally getting his receipt and leaving the checkout.
The young woman was eyeing her cell phone and had lost track of the time and space. I was going to get her attention, but decided to save myself time and cut ahead of her instead.
It was a TOTAL jerk move on my part, but I did it, I admit it, and yes, I made it to my appointment on time.
Look … the point is that we live in a fallen world where no one is perfect. In fact, we’re all FAR from perfect. No one is innocent.
I think that’s precisely why we all need to be a little more self-aware. We are not the only people in this world. Our concerns are not the only concerns. We need to remember that what’s good for us may actually harm someone else … or at least set them back in some way.
I wouldn’t mind a “Thank You” every now and then. I wouldn’t mind a salutation at the beginning of an email.
At the end of the day … we’ve all been jerks at one time or another. If you can walk on water like Jesus Christ, then you can probably prove to me that you’ve NEVER, ever been a jerk.
I mean, seriously. We live in a world full of jerks. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but I’ve got to ask …
Have YOU ever been a jerk?