I remember this guy I used to know who was just kind of pissed off all the time. Sure, I’m curmudgeonly and have been most of my life. (I think I graduated from cranky in my twenties, hit asshole somewhere in my thirties, went to curmudgeon in my forties and am currently working on my PhD in misanthrope. Just need a few more credits and a thesis paper.)
This guy, however, was just constantly angry. About everything. He managed to find insult to himself in almost any interaction.
“Excuse me. Is this seat taken?”
“Are you saying I’m a loser who has no one to sit with? FUCK YOU!”
“Whew. I’m glad it stopped raining and the sun is coming out.”
“What? You think I’m pasty-skinned and need some sun? FUCK YOU!”
“Say, you’re looking good today!”
“Huh. The implication is that I look a warm can of crap on most days? FUCK YOU!”
The guy reminded me of that Native American parable about the two wolves. You know the one: A war between two wolves inside of us, one representing all the hate, greed, self pity, narcissism of humans and the other, all the love, compassion, kindness humans are capable of. Which one wins? The one you feed, right?
This guy was a miserable fuck because his black wolf with all the good qualities was slowly being starved to death. The white wolf, full of spite and envy and polemic, couldn’t help but thrive because it was being fed the high-grade outrage in giant plastic bowls.
In fact, if I had to guess, this guy would probably list his every grievance as a micro aggression. You know, the constant nagging of almost continuous insult—from slow people on the road to young mothers with double wide strollers trundling down the street in his way to old women and the disabled taking the good seats on the bus. He would likely call his near apoplectic response to the politics of the day micro aggressions as well. His whole waking life was filled with nothing but a series of micro aggressions and there was no safe space for him to find respite.
One day, he went off on a barista. Who knows what it was about.
“It’s just all about you, isn’t it?” she said. “Somewhere in the back of your bent cranium, you have concluded that the movie of your life is also the movie the rest of us are players in—supporting cast members. But we’re not in your fucking movie. We’re in our own movie where it’s all about each of us. You want the rest of us to somehow understand that your pain and suffering is somehow worse than ours. You want us to walk around you as if your feelings are more important, more central to the story but they aren’t.
"My movie is about having a college degree in design but having to scrape together enough money for rent slinging coffee to people like you. That guy over there," and she pointed to a young black man drinking and working on his laptop, “his movie is about living in a society that outnumbers him four to one and the constant fear that if he says or does the wrong thing, a cop might come over and shoot him for not getting his ID out fast enough or too fast or at all. The homeless guy outside selling Streetwise has his movie. The woman sitting just feet away from him with the guitar case has her movie.
"We all are in our own narrative. Yours is no more or less important than anyone else’s but the best stories are about other people rather than yourself.”
I wish I could say this guy got the message but he didn’t. He was filming her, put it on Facebook and started a trolling campaign against her that got her fired. Not because she had done or said anything wrong but because the coffee shop management didn’t want the negative press and the only way to avoid having this guy continue to barrage the store’s Yelp! reviews with comments was to give her the boot.