Dear People With Power: Stop Using Your Status To Be Jerks

January 23, 2017

Acting like an entitled douchebag won’t buy you friends.

I have a particular brand of luck.

Something major may happen to me, like being laid off of work, and then I’ll get in a $500 bonus check from Lyft because someone happened to use my sign-up bonus. That’ll end up being exactly enough to coast me through to finding my next job, and ultimately everything will turn out fine.

The other side of that is something minor will happen and it’ll blow up to be a much bigger thing than it really has any right to be. Like getting into a minor fender bender (that didn’t even bend a fender) and having it be with a Bentley. In Hollywood. Driven by a lawyer.

These things happen, and sometimes they turn into really great stories. Once my saga is complete, I’ll probably think of a funny spin to it, like I do with most of the horrendous things that happen to me, that’ll make my friends cover their mouths with an “Oh, no, that didn’t happen!” over dinner. But for now, I’m left reeling over how people with power are so eager to wield it over people who don’t.

Compared to an attorney working out of an office in Beverly Hills, I’m pretty damn poor. I drive a Honda. The damage to this guy’s car in the above mentioned fender bender was invisible. On site we couldn’t spot a speck, but he was incessant about being insufferable about it anyway. He went on about the “integrity” of his bumper, about how this was going to be “very expensive” for me, and for good measure, he slid in a snide comment about children not paying attention while they drove (I am 32 years old). He almost called the police to the scene over the thing, even after I’d given him my insurance information for him to report any damage to.

And that’s really what struck me over the whole situation. Certainly if damage was done to his car I should take care of righting it, but it was the look on his face the moment he mentioned calling the police. I know I felt fear, and I’m sure it was visible. I froze in place, eyes going slightly wider, and my voice wavered a little when I spoke. And he smirked. He smirked.

It was for a half second before it vanished back into his mask of righteous rage, but it was there. He was happy that he’d made me afraid. This man with power and money and a Bentley framed in British paraphernalia that said “The Sun Never Sets,” a nice colonialist phrase, was getting off on flexing his positional power over me.

I don’t understand it. I honestly don’t. I don’t understand why someone would go through life waiting for opportunities like these. Wouldn’t it get exhausting? Wouldn’t you get tired of constantly having to prove to the world that you’re better, that you have more power, that you can make them suffer if you like? What has to happen to a person to make them joyful about looking down on others? Isn’t it enough to be happy about how high up in the tree you’ve scaled to without having to lob apples at the people still standing by the trunk?

Imagine being the kind of person who gets off on being better than everyone around them. Their self-esteem and ability to enjoy their day must revolve entirely on the misery of people around them. They can never be friends with any of their peers because they’d be too much of a threat. They’ll never be challenged beyond wondering how they can ensure that their boots remain firmly on the necks of the people beneath them.

I can’t help but draw comparisons to the newly minted President Trump, a man whose egotistical outbursts are the stuff of legends. What drives men like these, men with power and privilege and money, to feel the need to spit on the people below them? What makes them take joy from it?

It makes me sad more than it does angry, frustrated or anxious. Sad for these people who have so much success and can only seem to find misery out of it. Not sad enough to feel bad for Trump supporters, but sad enough not to worry too much about this Bentley’s bumper.

Comment: Have you ever experienced someone using their power over you to cause misery, just because they could?

 

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