An easy way to increase anxiety and to make life harder is to assume the worst in people; it’s really effective. I used to be great at this. My role in life was simply to suck up to people in hopes that they might like me because everyone was above me. It was a beautiful way to live… if you understand sarcasm. Since learning to assume the best in people life has gotten a lot better for me. I don’t get hurt as much, the hurt I do face disappears quicker because I can see how the other person is really just trying to protect themselves, and I’m not anxious about some people being evil villains trying to ruin my life like I once thought. After all, if Darth Vadar had good in him (and he was a murderous villain… albeit from a galaxy far, far away), we can assume that our friends and loved ones have good in them as well… or we have picked some terrible people to be in our lives.
If I’m going to say we need to assume the best in people, I need to add a very important detail: To a point. We need to assume the best in people to a point. Tonight I was doing my weekly jog that includes doing a set of about 250 stairs. Some people do these stairs 10 times; not me… I’m a wuss and content being a little fat. Near the top of the stairs was a landing where I found a very gruff looking man in his 30s screaming into his phone and flailing his arms with a bicycle on the ground beside him. As I walked near him I did the ‘I’m a guy so I’ll nod to acknowledge you’ thing and he stopped screaming in the phone and in a raspy but friendly voice said, “Hi.” Surprised by his politeness and seeing him hang up on his phone call, I asked if he was okay and he started with a very popular phrase, “F’ing women!” Ah yes, the familiar cry of the angry man. Women have a power over men and whoever this woman was definitely had a power over Mr. Gruff. After a couple sentences that were mostly f words, I found out he was having a hard time getting up the stairs because as a kid he was hit by a car while on his bike. He obviously lived (or you’d be hearing about the zombie invasion in the news), but in the accident he had a big piece of metal jammed into his calve muscle the doctors said would mean he’d never walk again. He clearly proved that wrong, but the stairs were too much for him with all of his stuff. I offered to carry his bike the rest of the way and as we started up the stairs I said I was a marriage therapist who often hears guys angry about how a woman has treated them. I’ve heard a lot of stories, but he threw me a curve ball: (him) “I just found out my girlfriend is a prostitute.” Huhn… that’s a new one. I wasn’t sure what to say, but I didn’t have to figure it out because he continued, “She told me she was a massage therapist, and now I find out she’s sucking d*ck for money.” I still didn’t know what to say, but again I didn’t have to as he added, “She sucks like 13-14 d*cks a night!” In my head I’m flipping between two thoughts; neither one helpful. The first is… gross. My one goal in life is to never have one of those in my mouth, yet she’s doing double digits in a night. Very gross. Plus, I’m guessing these guys aren’t the Ryan Gosling types. If you’re paying… there’s a reason. This is all the more nasty because, let’s be honest, how many of those guys showered before seeing her? So Gross. Yeah, I don’t know why my mind went there… or why I’m sharing this… but I’ll continue. MY other thought came from my money brain: So if she does 13-14 a night, how much does she charge per job? If she’s charging $50, she’s doing pretty well for a night’s work. If she’s charging $20, it’s still pretty good. Quantity helps the income. And then my brain went to how long per person? If it’s five minutes a shot that’s good time per money ratio. If it’s like twenty minutes per person that would be exhausting and painful. Funny enough, when I told two friends this story their first question was what I should’ve thought: “Was she really his girlfriend or did every date include a payment in the end?” I guess I didn’t think of this because, apparently, my mind goes to weird places… but I already knew that.
What blew me away (no double entendre intended) is this guy said he found out she did this when she found her in the car with a guy and her response was to smash him in the face with her phone. Apparently she took her work seriously. Turns out she walked away with a broken phone while he walked away with a black eye. That must have been a solid hit. He was quick to note that he’d never hit a girl. When I told him that’s good because he could get in a lot of trouble, he then told me he knew this well. Awhile ago his ex from an eight year relationship, and the mother of one of his children (I’m sure a straight A student), broke up with him by having the cops arrest him for domestic violence and assault. The kicker (pun intended) was he had just got home after being away for work for a month. After getting home and finding no one there and thinking things were good, while still in his travel clothes a cop showed up to arrest him. After ten and a half months in prison, he was proven innocent because he wasn’t home like he had originally told the cop. Talk about terrible! What’s even more terrible is he added that even after all of this, he wanted to make things work with his current girlfriend… yes, you read that right. He wants to make it work with his prostitute, abusive girlfriend who apparently was a prostitute to pay for her meth addiction. That’s quality (I’m sure they were both straight A students).
I believe in assuming the best in people. I assumed the best in this guy and he assumed the best in me, which led to a very interesting conversation. He, however, missed the important part of my rule with his girlfriend: Assume the best to a point. To a point! There is good in all people, but some people you really need to run away from because they are trouble. He mentioned he was interested in seeing me to make it work with her. I’ve given my contact to people I’ve met on the street before and I never hear from them, so I doubt there will be a follow up, but either way, I hope he will learn this very important lesson: Assume the best to a point. At a certain point the person is a terrible human being and you need to get away, and if we are that terrible human being people need to get away from, we have some serious work to do.
This week may you see the benefit of assuming the best to a point.
Rev. Chad David, ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people