How not to drown in The Sea of Assholes

As my dearly departed sainted mother used to say, “God must love assholes.  He made a lot of them.”

Of course, unlike me, she was far too refined to use the word “assholes.”

A number of years ago I had a two part epiphany.

1.  Since I already knew the world had plenty of assholes, there was no reason for me to be surprised, angry or upset when my path crossed one.

2.  When someone appears to be an asshole one of two things is going on:

First, this may simply be a good person having a bad day.  If so, they don’t need me in their face.

Or, this could be a genuine asshole who needs a can ‘o whoop-ass opened up on ‘em.  But I don’t have to do it.  They will come across another asshole and serve each other.  Not my job.

Simply understanding these two things has greatly enhanced my peace.

“Every person you look at, you can see the universe in their eyes.”

George Carlin.  Of all people…

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  1. Posted June 16, 2011 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    I too, have been guilty of thinking it was my job to “teach” jerks, I love your idea that another jerk will serve that purpose ! Letting someone else do the teaching and allowing grace for those that may be having a bad day are great ideas for re-focusing my energy and attention on more productive things.

    • Posted June 16, 2011 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

      thanks Cassie….

      “Every person you look at, you can see the universe in their eyes.”

      George Carlin. Of all people…

  2. Trish Rempen
    Posted June 17, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

    So right!
    I’ve been thinking 2 things:
    1. Just because he/she is having a lousy day, it doesn’t mean I have to join them.
    2. Getting mad at that jerk isn’t getting me where I want to go, which is enjoying my day.

    They may be the same thing. They may be what you said.
    The trick is to remember it on the spot!

    • Posted June 17, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

      you are so right, Trish….

      especially when the rage begins to surge….

      Like Samual L. Jackson says in Pulp Fiction: “But I’m trying Ringo. I’m really trying.”

  3. Posted June 17, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    “:Or, second, this could be a real live genuine jerk who needs a can ‘o whoop-ass opened up on ‘em. But I don’t have to do it. They will come across another jerk soon enough and serve each other. It doesn’t have to be my job.”

    Yeah,but man! Sometimes it’s just sooooo hard not to. And it’s just so satisfying.
    (Of course,since I’m usually the jerk in question,uh……..)

    • Posted June 17, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

      yeah, but you’re a bad ass biker dude, so it is your job. 😉

      just so I don’t have to do it anymore.

  4. Krazy
    Posted February 11, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I have a quote up on my wall at work “Don’t argue with idiots, they drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience”.

    • Posted February 11, 2012 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

      It’s often just too tempting; helps to have the reminder handy.

  5. Posted February 20, 2012 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Re-arranging my library yesterday. Ran across “The No Asshole Rule”. Always good to riffle through for a ten-minute refresher.

    • Posted February 20, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      It is a never ending struggle, but my mother’s quote is always in my ears….

  6. Jason
    Posted May 28, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m a new reader of your blog through the MMM article. Like with MMM’s blog I’m now reading through yours beginning to end. Thanks for sharing all the wisdom! Loved this post–reminds me of one of my dad’s favorite sayings: “Everybody on earth is an asshole. The trick is to learn how to get along with your fellow asshole.” I always hate when in hindsight I realize I was the asshole:)

    • Posted May 28, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Ah, but realizing you too are is the mark of a Budda!

      Welcome to the blog, Jason.

  7. Jason Braganza
    Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:12 am | Permalink


  8. m
    Posted March 19, 2014 at 11:54 am | Permalink

    I’d add a third thing to this list…

    3. Empathy/Perspective. Unfortunately, some days for one reason or another I am the asshole.

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted April 10, 2014 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

      Good point m!

      While this was written from the point of view of dealing with the assholes around us it is worth remembering that we are all, at times, the asshole in question. :)

  9. Posted June 26, 2014 at 9:57 pm | Permalink

    I love the positive spin when you encounter negative people. It is hard to take the high road sometimes and the quotes above remind you to be reasonable, take a deep breath, and move on. There are more important things in the world to worry about than negative people.

    so if your mom didn’t use the word assholes, what did she say?

    thanks again for sharing – love your point of view.

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted June 27, 2014 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Hi Katie…

      Her actual quote was: “God must love stupid people. He made a lot of them.”

      Thanks for the kind words!

  10. John
    Posted July 24, 2014 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    I have a few thoughts on this as well. My saying is, “Stupid people don’t know they’re stupid,” and you telling them they are stupid is very unlikely to cause an epiphany on their part, even if you explain to them why they are stupid. I didn’t always has this view, but since I’ve adopted it, it has saved me from much stupid-people induced stress.
    Great site!

  11. Bearded Apprentice
    Posted October 24, 2014 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Great post Mr. Collins! Something I struggle with on a regular basis so I hope keeping these sayings fresh in my mind can help me find some inner peace when I sense my blood starting to boil. I’m a newbie here from MMM and after recently getting all caught up there reading ever article I’m on to tackle all of yours w/ ERE & Mad Fientist. Looking forward to them all!!

    • jlcollinsnh
      Posted October 24, 2014 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Welcome Mr. BA…

      Glad you made your way here and I’m honored to be placed with the likes of MMM, MF and ERE!

      I’m also glad you liked this post and am pleased to see it still getting readership. It’s one of my favorites!

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