nobody wants to hear what you would have done differently if you were them

years ago, i was hanging out with group of pals. one of them had just bought a car. i asked what they wound up getting, they told us, and i think i said something along the lines of, “i’ve read that the engines in those have a tendency to spin the bearings due to poor oil circulation.” one of my other pals said, “just what everyone wants to hear: you bought a lemon.”

that short exchange has stuck with me since because it really illuminated what a downer and know-it-all i can be. my friend was happy about their new car, why did i go and piss on their parade? the car was already bought so my info wasn’t useful to them. it was just irritating. what’s even worse is i know i have probably made countless similar downer comments in the past. it makes me wonder why my friends have stuck with me for so long. being negative is one thing but being a smug know-it-all is far more loathsome, in my opinion.

donald-trump-looking-smug

i did an image search for “smug” and this was at the top of the results. that look captures what i’m driving at.

i don’t want to be that kind of person so i’ve made an effort since then to be more aware of how i speak to people. now when someone is telling me about how shitty their divorce was, i try not to chime in with some stupid hot tip like, “well doug, i’ve personally found that open communication is key to a healthy relationship. maybe you should have talked with your wife more.” now, before i open my mouth, i think, “doug has had several years to mull his divorce over and he’s probably already realized the mistakes he made. i don’t need to tell him stuff he already knows. it’s probably best to just listen to him.”

of course there are times when it’s fine to offer advice, like when someone asks you for it, or if a friend is considering doing something and you want to make sure they’re aware of some risk before they do it. that’s totally different from lecturing people, beating them over the head with stuff they’ve already figured out on their own, or giving them advice after it’s too late.

here’s another anecdote to illustrate my point: i had a barn built on my property last year. jenn and i gave it lots of thought before construction and knew what we wanted. it was built, and we are very happy with it. since then, i’ve had a lot of neighbours come over and say stuff like, “looks great. is there any plumbing in it? why didn’t you make the hay loft into a suite that you could rent out? that’s what i would have done. OSB for the walls, you’re not going to drywall it? that’s what i would have done.” why would they think i care at all about what they would have done? i didn’t build it for them, i built it for me, and i like it this way. telling me what they dislike about my new barn sure doesn’t endear them to me.

if those clods had any mind at all, they would simply say, “nice garage, looks great. makes me think about building one myself.”

just like i should have said, “congrats on the new car, i’m happy for you,” many moons ago.

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cough

today i chatted with a guy who asked me why i wasn’t following the same career path as him. i explained why i preferred my path, and he completely disregarded what i said and told me he thought i was afraid to be “out of my depths.” he didn’t give a reason why he thought this, instead he just started listing what he liked about his job, as if to say “you couldn’t possibly prefer anything else.”

julian-dunham-massey

“i’m a smug, rude prick who doesn’t listen and has everyone else’s lives figured out better than they do.”

the funny thing is, i met this guy once before and had a short chat with him then too, and i didn’t like him then either. he came off as an arrogant know-it-all, sort of a windbag, and that was after only 5 or 10 minutes. i foolishly second guessed my feelings on him.

but today, even before he disregarded everything i had said and basically called a virtual stranger a chicken, he had still come off as an arrogant know-it-all, giving jenn and i lots of strong advice on how to train our dog. “it’s important to do this, don’t do that,” etc. so i’d already decided, “i don’t like this guy much.” and then he promptly hammered the final nail in his own coffin.

the odd thing is that i wish i could have said something as rude and judgmental in return to the guy, but i just couldn’t do it. i’d feel like too much of an asshole. i don’t understand how some people can think it’s ok to talk like that to other people, especially strangers.

but maybe a lot of people actually think the same thing about me.

well, fuck them.

this post certainly hasn’t helped me see this event any differently, or helped me to feel better about it. i’m still just as angry at the prick. great.

annoying ‘typical men’ modifying the hell out of already perfectly good stuff

i find a lot of stereotypical men have a fucking annoying habit of believing they can make virtually any piece of machinery or technology better. i see it lots on the various car forums i frequent: guys wanting to swap in bigger, more powerful engines; guys wanting bigger brakes to keep up with the bigger engines they swap in; guys wanting to lift their vehicles for more ground clearance. that sort of thing.

i hate that stuff. there are some small things i don’t mind messing with, things that have a good effort-to-result ratio. like installing cup holders. those are super useful, and easy to put in. but swapping in big engines? why would i buy an old station wagon and then spend thousands of dollars and countless hours to shoehorn some giant engine in? i’d buy a sports car if i wanted that kind of power.

even worse is that most guys interested in ‘upgrading’ their cars are boneheads who just want more power or arrogant know-it-all’s who act like the army of japanese engineers who designed the car in the first place were first class idiots. it should come as no surprise that i’ve rarely seen a bonehead or know-it-all actually pull off an engine swap. over 7 years on various car forums, i’ve see those losers horde parts, make grand plans in preparation for the great task ahead, get the engine in but never get it running right…it’s usually just one colossal clusterfuck.

this kind of thing doesn’t always bug me though. there are some guys who pull this sort of feat off, and they generally do it without cumming over themselves. these guys do crazy modifications as a labour of love — they acknowledge it’s not a feasible thing for most people to do but they enjoy the hell out of the challenge, and they rise to it. i like those guys, and i like seeing the work they do. it’s cool to see normal people with far out visions and high standards pull off clean, unique work.

it’s too bad they are a tiny minority. usually, i just see new boneheads and know-it-all’s doing the same dumb stuff, stalling out at the same points that all the other boneheads and know-it-all’s stalled out at before them. when i see that happen, i laugh my ass off at them and go for a victory lap around the block in my stock station wagon.

1989 Toyota Corolla, 4WD

i love you just the way you are, 4wd corolla.