In most situations, you think you’re in the right. Not only that, but you probably think that you’re a good person who is also right. But this is not necessarily how other people see it.
Here, people tell stories of when they realized they were actually being a jerk.
My wife and I were visiting friends, and wed all been joking around for a couple of hours. Some of the jokes were mean in the Im just busting your balls sense, but I didnt think there was any genuine meanness going on.
On the way home, my wife got really quiet. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, You really dont know, do you? She then told me Id seriously hurt her feelings.
My heart sank. Thats the one thing I never, ever want to do. Shes my best friend, and causing her pain is unforgivable. But, no, I didnt know what I did. I had no idea what she was referring to.
She found this hard to believe, because, from her point of view, I embarrassed her in front of our friends by, out of the blue, accusing her of being bad in a very specific way (which I wont go into here, because Id hate to humiliate her, again).
Immediately, I remembered saying it, but … but … it had been a joke! Wed all been joking around, in a cutting sort of way, and Id just joined in.
My wife said, It didnt sound like a joke!
But why would I purposefully want to hurt you?
I dont know. I was flabbergasted when you said it. I guess you must resent me.
I apologized. I hate it when people make excuses for themselves while apologizing (I really, really meant it as a joke!), so I didnt. I said Im very sorry. I should never hurt you. Thats terrible. I love you.
She gradually got over it—or pretended to—but I didnt.
I realized this has happened to me before, and, a few days later, I discussed this with my wife, being careful not to make anything sound like an excuse.
I think sometimes, when Im joking, I dont signal the fact with an Im just kidding voice. Would you say thats true?
Yes, she said. You have a very dry sense of humor. Its often hard to tell if youre joking or not. Sometimes I have to explain to people that youre joking.
Im autistic, and though (after decades of work), my social skills are mostly indistinguishable from a non-autistic person, thats one way I screw up. When joking, I have a totally flat affect. I dont realize it at the time. I dont feel like I have a dry sense of humor. In my head, Im goofy, not dry, but the goofiness doesnt always translate.
Once, at work, when, at the end of a meeting, my boss asked What will you be working on tomorrow?
I said, I dont plan on coming to work tomorrow. I think Ive worked enough for one lifetime. Im going to stay home from now on. That sounds like more fun.
There was a long pause. Everyone stared at me. Finally, in a really quiet voice, someone asked Are you joking?
To me, it was obvious I was joking. But I was in a minority of one. And this wasnt in a stodgy, conservative office. This was a partying crowd. (Part of the problem is that I tend to joke when I feel like it. I dont wait until theres a general were joking now vibe. This mistake isnt terribly conscious on my part, but Im vaguely aware that I do it.)
In addition to being autistic, I come from a part of the midwest where people naturally have a flat affect. I grew up around folks who sounded a little bit robotic, and I inherited their tendency to talk without much vocal music. (If youve heard Martin Starrs voice on Silicon Valley, you know what Im talking about.)
I thought more about that night, with my wife and our friends, and realized Id been trying to impress them. Once the jokes got started, I wanted to out-joke everyone else, and I stopped caring about who I trampled on. While I hadnt purposefully hurt my wifes feelings, I had used her to get a cheap laugh.
And then I thought some more about it. The thing Id jokingly accused her of was something about her that irritated me at times. Had I acted out, in a passive-aggressive way, instead of talking to her, directly? I cant discount that possibility. If thats what I did, I was a jerk.
She deserves better.
So, one of my closest friends; let’s call her Rita for the sake of this story, loves posting selfies and sassy statuses on Facebook.
Nothing wrong with that. Some of her sassy posts are actually hilarious and make a lot of sense. I love them.
Except this one time when I saw her post, I couldn’t shake the feeling I had seen it somewhere else.
So I let it go. I didn’t care so much. It was after all just a Facebook post.
Later in the day while I was scrolling instagram, I saw the exact same post- except it was a comment not a post.
Curious I scrolled through Ritas profile and started going through comments on similar posts.
Soon I found her secret.
She had been posting witty comments as her statuses from popular blogs.
Except she made it look like she came up with the witty status. She would never name a source.
If you google, you will easily find posts that are similar, but searching comments ? Ha, that one is difficult.
I couldn’t stop laughing when I found her little secret.
So each time she posted a witty status, I went about searching for the source, took a screenshot and posted it on her wall.
Plagiarism. Even if you copied a comment and not the blog itself.
For me it was amusing to watch her squirm.
It wasn’t long before I received a text from her-
Let me have fun will you? Stop being an jerk!
I love her. She is a good friend of mine. But, well, I’m an jerk.
Bestfriend : Dude you free this evening?
Me: Yeah why?
Bestfriend: I was wondering if we could talk on call. You know for long.
Me: Oh yeah totally man! I’d love to.
(mini me: actually I DONT think I WANT TO, really)
Bestfriend: There’s so much we need to talk mahn. I just can’t tell you right now.
Me: I’ll literally wait for your call bro.
(mini me: Why are you doing this to yourself! You know you hate calls! Long ones! You dread them! Then whyyyyy!)
Before leaving to home
Bestfriend: Remember I’ll call!
Me: Oh yeah, totally!
(mini me: stop being nice you hoe! You know you don’t want to! You fucking know!)
An hour after reaching home
Bestfriend : Dude I’ll call you soon. You’ll pick no? You didn’t last time.
Me: Yeah mahn. Stop asking if like a zillion times.
Bestfriend: What time will you be free at?
Me: Anytime, You tell me?
Me: Sure mahn! Totally waiting! Won’t let you down this time, Like last time.
(mini me: YOU ARE SO LETTING HER DOWN AGAIN )
Bestfriend’s name flashes.
She calls again
She’s called about 4 times by now
Her text pops up Dude,You alright? Pick up man.
Meh. Read. Marked as unread. Ignored.
About 10 calls by 10:20
The next day,
Bestfriend: Dude I called you so many times! You didn’t even pick up
Me: Oh man! Did you? I’m so sorry dude, I was sick all night, throwing up. Didn’t realize. Dad even sorta had my phone for a while . So awfully Sorry. ( MAJOR LIE ALERT)
(mini me: What the actual fuck! You motherfucker! You piece of shit! You should be ashamed of yourself!)
After a couple of days, another friend asks me the same , I say yes and the cycle repeats. Unless it’s somebody I WANT to talk to.
You know, at points like these in life, You ought to realize, That Hey! I’m a basic jerk!, And that’s what I did. Yay! Happy realization to me!
Years ago, I became friends with a girl who started living in the same building. We werent best friends, but we had a few good conversations and stayed in contact even as I left the city for college.
She had broken up with her ex just before I left and even though we connected a little, neither of us made a move towards each other.
We didnt talk often but whenever we did, we shared updates of our lives. Apparently, she had found a new guy and things were going well. As months went by, she shared more details about her relationship.
She told me that the guy had shifted to USA and they used to meet barely once or twice a year. Even though the guy had promised her that he was looking to marry her, he also mentioned that his family is against it. But she believed in him.
Now, me being a 22-year old self-proclaimed relationship expert, told her that all of these are lies. I had very little knowledge of who the guy was and whether he was sincere in his promises, I just told her that long-distance doesnt work and that the guy may already be having fun with someone else there. I also told her that she shouldnt keep her hopes high, especially when his family is against it.
When I asked her whether she is happy with him and when she wasnt extremely enthusiastic with her replies, I assumed they were not compatible and she was not in love with him. And again, being the self-proclaimed relationship guru that I was, I told her she should either ask him to do something about marriage soon, if at all she wants it, or leave him.
And then, we stopped talking for a while for no particular reason. I forgot about her until one day, when I was back home, I caught my sister browsing at some photos on Facebook. As I peeped, I saw that girl in a wedding dress and then some more photos of her with her husband.
Her husband was the same guy I had spoken ill about. I felt like such a huge jerk. I was happy for her that she stuck to her choice, that she continued to believe in him but at the same time felt disgusted with myself for saying the things I did and thinking so highly of my understanding about people and relations that I suggested her those things.
This is for all those boys (mostly singles), who keep telling a girl that her partner may not be trustworthy or that their relation wont last long for any reason, you should stop doing that. Even at early twenties, you really dont have much understanding about relationships, let alone people.
Stop telling yourself that you understand everything and youve got the guy figured out. Sometimes, its better to keep your thoughts to yourself unless its obvious. Fortunately, I didnt cause any harm and still learnt the lesson. Try not to be the reason behind causing conflicts between people.
Today in fact. Today was the day I realized Im ajerk.
I had my last exam today and was happily walking home at about 3ish, peak rush hour time. It was bloody boiling today in England, but I love hot weather (if you consider 24C hot) so was gladly gazing into the depths of the blue sky, skipping along with a smile on my face. It was perfect, like a movie almost. I was happy, excited and for once, no longer burdened.
Whilst on my excursion however, I encountered a particularly peculiar obstacle which I am sure many of you have previously dreaded.
A person, handing out religious pamphlets.
Now kids, what does a mentally stable, sound and respectful member of society do when they encounter such a thing?
Thats right. They take a deeeeep breath, INHALE………..EXHALE…….. then politely refuse. A more British way to deal with such a predicament would be to gladly accept the booklet with a smile and a genuine thank you, trying ever so hard not to look dead inside, then move on and dump it in the next recycling bin.
Nevertheless, you MOVE ON. POLITELY.
However, the lovely old lady who was handing out booklets on this particular day seemed to catch me off guard. I was genuinely half way through a chocolate bar, peeking at the shops when this lady comes to me and says:
Hi there mate! Would you like to learn more about the Bible and Christian worship?
Im not going to lie. This was a nice lady. She was quite old, probably working voluntarily and seemed to have passion in what she was doing. It was as a result of her charisma that every so often a passerby would be drawn to the stall just to have a quick chat with her praise her commitment then get on with what they were doing. Really, a good worker.
I however, almost instinctively ignore all social norms and nonchalantly blurt out:
No thanks! I worship evidence!
Today, John was bragging to me about how good he is with chess. He kept rambling on and on about how nobody he met in real life could beat him.
So to shut him up, I challenged him to an online game of chess.
And I completely utterly thoroughly destroyed him, while taunting him in the chat at the same time.
I also made my moves super-fast, like within a few seconds after he finished his moves. More than once during the game, he exclaimed, Wow how do you play so quick?
Unbeknown to him, during the game, I had another tab open where I was playing Chess against an AI set to insane difficulty.
I played as Black against John, but white against the AI. This meant that John started first against me, while I started first against the AI.
All I did was mimic each of Johns move in the match against the AI and mimic the AIs move against John. In other words, while it appeared that I was playing two chess matches at the same time, I wasnt actually playing at all — John was playing the match against the insane AI.
To top it off, Ive only played like 5 chess matches my whole life. I barely know how to move the pieces!
Suffice to say, John wasnt very pleased when I told him.
Answer coming from a certified jerk here.
I stay at hostel and just like all other engineering students, I adapted odd hours for sleeping. I sleep whenever I feel like and there are no particular hours for it.
After a tight sleep, when I opened my phone, the notifications were like this:
13 Missed calls from Home
12 WhatsApp messages from Mom
8 messages from mom on messenger
My mom tried to reach out to me through every possible way and when she called next, I was angry on her for being so clingy and for not being able to understand I must have been sleeping.
Some days later, I called my mom twice and she didnt pick up. When she called back, I again was angry on her for not taking my call.
Thinking through these at this hour, made me realize what kind of an jerk I am. Probably the worst kind.
It was about ten years after the fact that I realized Im a jerk. Or, at least, that I can be.
I have friends who tell me that Im the least confrontational person they know. I like hearing this so I usually wont follow up by revealing the covert jerk that has lived within.
At my first employment as a commercial recording engineer, I worked for a studio manager who was horrible. Ill spare you the tedious and whiny details, but to give you a sense of what this person was like, heres a quick story in three paragraphs:
Horrible studio manager was once given the task (by higher-ups) to organize a retirement party for one of the other employees. This involved scheduling, invitation lists, refreshments and a few volunteer speakers to pay tribute to the retiring employee.
Two days before the party, the retiree had a serious heart attack. Fortunately, it was a survivable incident, but nonetheless a very significant medical crisis. I stopped by Studio Managers office to say I was really sad and sorry to hear the news.
She looked at me with anger in her eyes and quietly said, with hand gesturing, Dont tell me youre sorry. All that work. Weve spent weeks on this [the retirement party] and now … (pause) … its all for nothing. Now I have to undo all the invitations and spend the entire afternoon fixing this mess. Just go.
Certainly you might ask, why didnt they just fire her? The reason was that everybody was afraid of her. None of the higher level administrators were willing to face up to the knock-down-drag-out session that would be inevitable in the event of a reprimand or firing. Some of you may have seen this kind of thing in your workplace.
For the first four years of working under this woman, I put a lot of effort into keeping the peace and doing the best work I could. I also tried to study myself to see where I might be complicit. It was all to no avail. During the fifth year of my stay, I grew bitter and resentful, Whatever the conflict, I just let it fall where it may with no attempts to make it any better.
So after five years of eating this persons crap on a daily basis, I quit the job and built my own studio, going further into debt than what was a safe, sound business practice. I treated the customers like gold and was extremely attentive to their wishes. About two thirds of the clients Id served at the horrible manager studio followed me to my new business.
So far so good, but heres the jerk part:
As owner of the business, I worked long hours, late into the night without billing the clients for the extra time. Part of the motivation was to build a new business. But an equal part was designed to stick it to the horrible studio manager. I was making sure every project was far better and far cheaper than what the horrible studio manager could do and still make a profit. It was revenge by success. Jerk power.
Of course, my clients benefited and, as hoped, my business grew. Some years later, the horrible studio manager was squeezed out by upper management and they asked me to come back. By that time, I was safely out on my own, so I stuck it to em a second time by (politely) refusing to offer any kind of help.
Covert jerk, I was. Not so much because of what Id done, but because it felt good.
I cant say Im proud of it or that its a healthy way to live. At the same time I had to prove to myself that I wasnt as incompetent as the horrible studio manager wanted me to believe. Her constant reminders of my shortcomings and ineptitude were power plays. I knew this because the customers were happy and they let me know it. Still, if you tell a person enough times, that they are less than a person, they come to believe it. Theres always that little impulse of self doubt working in the wings when were under constant criticism.
My personal grudges, bitterness and nagging self doubt have long since passed. More recently the property that housed the studio of the horrible manager has been sold to a business that has nothing to do with recording. So, I guess I win. But as with any kind of war, winning comes at some kind of cost to our personal integrity. Its yet another lesson in how desperation to put food on the table brings out the dark side of our nature. To this darker side, I am, unfortunately no exception.