The perennial search for an asshole-free zone

 

Sometimes I find people very easy to hate.

So it’s 8 o’clock and I’m hanging out at one of my favorite late-night hangout spots on the Berkeley campus — this little niche of space away from everything. And I’m sipping on my beer and listening to music on headphones and working on some stuff on the internet.

When this person is suddenly standing in front of me. He’s some nut. One of my “fellow street people.” And he starts babbling at me. But I can’t understand a word he’s saying (did I mention he’s a nut??). But from his gestures I can tell he wants to plug his cellphone into the outlet that I am using.

“NO!!” I said forcibly. “I don’t want any company. I just want to be alone. There are plenty of other outlets right down there on the plaza that you can use.”

But does this dirtclod respect my wishes and respect my space?? HELL NO. He pulls out his cellphone and some chords and starts doing various inexplicable gestures (so as usual I’m contemplating that age-old question: ” Is he a nut?? Or is he on drugs?? Or is he just an asshole?? Or some strange combination of the three??”).

I stand up and glare at him. Give him the ole Ace Backwords Death Stare. Hoping I can scare him off with my chest-pumped-out Cowardly Lion routine. But he’s completely oblivious. Continues to fumble around with his cellphone and a bottle of something in his hand. I imagine in my mind how satisfying it would be to just punch him in the head right now with all my force, and watch his useless bulk bouncing around on the concrete. But, alas, there are laws against that.  Plus, he’s just as big as me and probably 30 years younger. So maybe he could take me. Plus I’m getting too old for this shit anyways. And punching people in the head — as satisfying as that might be in the moment — can sometimes turn out to be counter-productive (so I’m gaining a modicum of wisdom and maturity in my old age).

So instead I quickly pack up my stuff, give him one last death glare, and then stomp off.

But that’s what it’s like in Berkeley EVERYWHERE nowadays. EVERY square inch of space is being contested by SOMEBODY!!

Now I’m actually hanging out at a better spot. My eternal motto is: “It’s a big world. And the point is to occupy a part of it that doesn’t include the asshole.” THE END

This is probably not breaking news to anyone here, but there are some people in this world of ours who are truly flaming assoles

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It’s another wonderful day at the Berkeley Public Library.

I just went to sit down at the cubicle where I’ve reserved a computer. But some genius is sitting there trying to log onto said computer. “You can’t log onto that computer because I have it reserved,” I said, helpfully.

“No you don’t,” he sneers. “This is MY computer.” He continues to try and log on.

“OK,” I said. “But you’re not going to be able to log on because I have it reserved.”

“No you don’t,” he says. “Get the FUCK out of my face!”

I back off and wait at the end of the aisle. While he feverishly, and pointlessly attempts to log onto my computer. Getting more frustrated with every attempt. I can literally see him grinding his teeth. He suddenly jumps up and comes rushing towards me with his fists clenched like he’s about to attack me. Apparently he assumes I’ve been “fucking with him” somehow. I back off with my hands up, saying, “That’s just how the system works.” (and uh duh) But he’s convinced that I’ve somehow wronged him and therefor must pay.

He goes rushing to the librarians at the front desk to angrily express his grievance at my terrible mistreatment of him.

I go to sit down at the computer, but realize he’s left all of his stuff all over the table, so he will no doubt be back, with further ugly scenes. So I rush up to the front desk to see if we can resolve this grievous misunderstanding. “Listen, ” I said. “if it’s REALLY that important for you to use that computer, I’ll log off so that you can log on.”

“Oh. OK,” he says, gruffly. (the librarians give me a sad but grateful smile that I’ve peacefully resolved a situation that often escalates into security guards and police being called)

I log off of that computer. And log onto another computer. The genius gives me one last sneer. And then we both live happily ever after.

Don’t get me wrong. I can be just as macho and confrontational as anyone. Especially when I’m in the right. And especially when I’m dealing with a flaming asshole. But generally, if possible, I’ll just take the path of least resistance. My credo: “It’s a big world. And the best solution is to occupy a part of it that doesn’t include the asshole.”

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