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.”