The world is full of jerks

I have hired, as I’ve said before, excellent students to work for me. They are smart, and often shrewd, and usually have excellent people skills.

But they are often not wise in the ways of the world. So I try to teach them the great lesson of my life: most people are jerks.

Most people in general. Everywhere. Not everyone, of course, but you never know. The people who call on the telephone, the people who visit, the people you work with. You just never know. So you have to be prepared.

My student employees are often astonished when someone calls and complains about a problem that (obviously) doesn’t exist, or that they caused themselves, or that isn’t within anyone’s control (“Why didn’t I get my letter? Where is it?”).

My students do their best to placate the caller, and they look at me pleadingly afterward: Did I do the right thing?

And I say, invariably: Of course you did. Those people were being stupid. You were patient and kind with them, and you listened to them. It’s the only thing you can do. Best of all, you didn’t tell them that they were being stupid. (I usually add: “That’s why I employ you. I’m old and cynical. I would have had a hard time holding back from telling them that they don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.”)

My student employees are always ultra-polite.  I recently had a hard time teaching one of them not to call me “sir” all the time. (Although I liked it.) I know that, at their age, I myself did not like to be given advice.

But sometimes you just have to hope that a few words will soak through, and they’ll take heed, and remember.

(And I hope they don’t think I’m a jerk for repeating myself so much.)

About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

2 Responses to The world is full of jerks

  1. starproms says:

    I’m old and cynical too Loren. You should let them call you Sir if they want to. It’s a sign of respect and there’s precious little of that left in the world today. I much prefer to be called Mrs. J…. rather than my first name by people who are younger than me. Likewise I do the same for people older than me.

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