Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Just the Right Amount of Asshole

Although I was mindful of the stress of hosting Thanksgiving (and even though I did NOT wind up screaming in the middle of my kitchen), I think I held some of that stress in instead of letting it go, because the days following the holiday ushered in my being a complete asshole at times for no reason at all.

I hate being an asshole, and over the past few days I really haven’t meant for things to come out of my mouth that way, but they have, and I’ve done much recanting and apologizing to J as well as scaring the hell out of some people I work with during a meeting on Monday, and scaring myself.

I may have mentioned this before, but I use to be a complete asshole in my youth (when I was 17 and working at the photo lab), and the mere thought of hearing a customer say to me, “You know, the customer’s always right” was enough to make me want to grab the closest scanner-gun and shove it so far up my next customer’s ass that it would come out her mouth.

Luckily I have a bit more tact now, but the intent of a scan-gun ass-reaming was still 100% there in my mind earlier this week, only instead of intentionally picking fights with those around me, I used more directive terms: “You’d better”, and “Oh, no we’re not”. Still, completely inappropriate.

So, while I was home yesterday with a “sick stomach”, I tried to sort out my mental dysfunction to the best of my ability, so I wouldn’t come back to work today and do something stupid, like get myself fired. Keeping my acupuncture appointment, I told my acupuncturist about my recent assholedom, and she placed some needles to make me a more pleasant person. I went home, lit a candle, and curled up with my favorite inspirational book, hoping the niceness would take and I would return to normal.

The good news? It did. The bad news? I think I overcompensated. I’ve noticed that my early discussions with coworkers today have been good, but I think my coworkers have all come away with “I can do this on my own timeline”, when I really meant to express, “I need this by noon”. I’m being too nice. I’ve lost my edge, and trust me that you need an edge when you’re a cat herder. This got me thinking, perhaps I’m successful at what I do because I’m just the right amount of asshole. Maybe being an asshole to a lesser extent is not a bad thing.

I suppose the key is fine tuning the asshole within. After all, if you too big an asshole, you shit all over everyone, and no one wants to be shit on. Conversely, if you’re never an asshole, your frustration and lack of assertiveness back up until you either make yourself sick or, like what you’re trying to avoid, you have a blowout. The kind of asshole I believe I need to harness is the “regular” asshole (think: Joe Six-pack-Asshole), one whose expressions are firm, full of intent, and come out with neither hesitation nor abrupt panic. One who’s confident and does its job, but isn’t spastic or lacking direction. Yes, that is the type of asshole I yearn to be.

Now, I know you may disagree with me. Call it assertiveness, call it confidence, call it effective management, I call it being an asshole – six in one, half a dozen in the other. Earlier this morning I may have conceded that being an asshole, per say, is not exactly the most appropriate way to express this quality of which I’ve experienced polar opposites in the past five days, but you know what? That’s you opinion, and you know what they say…


Midlife Crashes said...

Actually I think that "finetuning the asshole within" paragraph is one of the most brilliant managment analogies I've ever heard. Thanks, and if my skaters start telling me I'm an asshole, I'll tell them I owe it all to you ;)

Tara Armov said...

If one is a leader, one needs to be an asshole to a certain extent. That just comes with the territory. Well, if they want to be successful.

"Finetuning the asshole within" is a skill I'm always having to work on with derby, but it pays off in the rest of my world.