A Thousand Word Article Says a Thousand Words

Weekly Articles from Comedian Steve Patterson

Sunday

April

11

2021

Don’t be an arsehole. Until it’s absolutely necessary.

As I entered into the last few days of my 40’s this week (my 50thbirthday is April 15. I’m registered at indiealehouse.com if you’re interested) I found myself reflecting on the best piece of advice my father ever gave me and which I (and he as he enters his 90thturn around the sun this fall!) try to follow as best I can every day. The advice is simple and deceivingly ambitious: Don’t be an arsehole and don’t spend time with arseholes.

...if it were a pre-requisite for election into public office, we would either have much better world leaders or, well, none at all.

It’s good advice because, if everyone followed it, the world would be a much friendlier, better place. Plus if it were a pre-requisite for election into public office, we would either have much better world leaders or, well, none at all.

The first thing you need to know to follow this advice is how to identify an arsehole, which you can’t do by appearance alone. You can only tell by the behaviour that one exhibits. It is a very specific type of behaviour known as “Type A”. You’ve probably heard of type A behaviour and wondered “what does the A stand for?” Well, now you know.

Type A behaviour includes, but is not limited to:

  • Narcissism (putting yourself before others, like say, not wearing a mask during a worldwide pandemic)
  • Ignorance (it’s ok to not know everything. But it’s not ok to not know anything)
  • Bullying (a perceived showing of strength that is in fact a surefire sign of weakness)
  • Driving a Hummer (sorry, there may be people who drive Hummers out there who aren’t arseholes. I’ve just never met them)

In short, you know an arsehole when you meet one. Hell, they had their own President for a while.

...I can’t think of a worse form of bullying than making another human being clean up your poop that you squeezed out while sitting at the dinner table.

I’ve tried to never exhibit this type of behaviour myself in my almost 50 years now of existence. But of course I have failed on numerous occasions. In fact, most of us are mostly “Type A” people for the first few years of our life. Infants and toddlers are all about themselves, they don’t know ANYTHING and I can’t think of a worse form of bullying than making another human being clean up your poop that you squeezed out while sitting at the dinner table. And yes, I have seen some toddlers driving around in miniature Hummers.

The challenge we have as we grow into decent adults is to combat the Type A behaviour within ourselves with the exact opposite type of behaviour: Friendliness. Or, as I like to call it, “Type F” behaviour.

Type F behaviour includes, but is not limited to:

  • Empathy (the ability to feel how others feel)
  • Wisdom (you don’t have to be wise to be friendly. But I do find most arseholes are “alt-smart”)
  • Altruism (actual helping others)
  • Riding a bike (I’m kidding. A lot of cyclists are arseholes too.)

Now, since I made up the Type F thing anyway I also made up a theoretical continuum (it’s not just for physicists anymore) called The FA Continuum, where one side means “friendly” and the other side means “arsehole”.  The goal of most humans (and all Canadians) should be to stay towards the F side of this continuum. Because the people worth spending the most time with are those that exhibit type F behaviour MOST of the time. Note though that I did not say ALL of the time.

Some people are friendly all of the time. They give unsolicited advice and are continuously trying to ‘motivate’ others. I’m sorry to say but, this is an arsehole move.

Some people are friendly all of the time. They give unsolicited advice and are continuously trying to ‘motivate’ others. I’m sorry to say but, this is an arsehole move. You don’t need to motivate others all the time. Which is why I believe many public motivational speakers are, secretly, arseholes. For instance, my dad saw one clip of motivational speaker Tony Robbins and immediately said “that guy is an arsehole”. And any cursory search of ‘Tony Robbins me too sexual harassment’ will go a long way to confirming this.

I personally prefer to follow the advice of Patrick Swayze’s character “Dalton” in the movie Road House when he says “be nice until it’s time to not be nice” (and yes that clip is at the bottom of this article)

This lack of foresight and ignorance of the significance of science is a Type A behaviour of our government (past and present) that we are all now suffering for.

Point is, Canadians have a reputation as among the most ‘type F’ people in the world. We are friendly. We are polite. We are patient. But this, decidedly favourable stereotype is being put to the test now like never before with vaccine rollouts. We are way behind other countries, mostly due to the fact we are unable to manufacture our own. This lack of foresight and ignorance of the significance of science is a Type A behaviour of our government (past and present) that we are all now suffering for. And for the past year, we’ve been exceedingly type F in our reaction to it. Until now. Now formerly friendly Canadians are getting decidedly type A. Citizens (aka voters) are publicly calling out their local and national leaders. Reporters are asking tougher questions to politicians and those politicians are getting Type A at each other, which is usually not at all helpful, but in this case is, because we are getting more information.

In short, we’ve drifted a little towards the A side of the FA Continuum, which is not ideal but is sometimes necessary. Sometimes Type A gets things done. But it should not be the norm (as it too often is).

There are all sorts of advice we should be paying attention to right now. To doctors, to scientists and yes even to our world leaders whose behaviour may be Type A but whose talking points at least are Type F. Let’s be as friendly as we can to each other, but let’s also call out bullshit when we see it.

In other words, “be nice until it’s time to not be nice”.

Now, here’s that clip from Road House. Which I will warn you, before opening, contains some decidedly not nice words. Good talk.

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