Don’t Get Mad — Get Nasty

Feb 07


It’s Not Nice To Be So Nice

You know how you always hear that the man who went beserk and shot his wife and dog was “such a nice guy.” And that the mail sorter who went postal was “always so helpful” and “never got angry.” Well, they’ll never be able to say that about me. Or you, if you’re smart.

Let’s face it, you’re always a little ticked off at someone. That loudmouthed woman on the bus talking incessantly on her cell about nothing, nothing! That idiot in your office who never gets anything right but still has a job. That asshole on the highway who has the nerve to cut you off.

Are you going to take this sitting down? You shouldn’t, you know. It’s a well-known scientific fact, which I just made up, that you must do little nasty things on a regular basis to get even for all the maddening things people do to annoy you. If you don’t, the ill feelings build up and up, and at some point you’ll do something really bad. Left unchecked, this situation could be . . . fatal.

Random Acts of Nastiness

Just little things. The trick is that the nastiness has to be minor, yet satisfying.

Let’s say that the loud lady on the bus finally reaches her stop, and leaves her newspaper — better yet, her groceries, or (if she’s really been intolerable) her briefcase. You see what’s happening, and you could call out. But why? Say nothing. Mind your own business. It’s not your job. Sure, it’s nasty, but isn’t that the point. . .

This also works when you find something in the copy machine and don’t return it to that guy who does everything wrong, this being yet another proof of that. Hey, he never gets fired anyway, so leaving the document in the copier where others may see it —or (do you dare?) throwing it away — will only cause a little temporary inconvenience.

On the other hand, you probably shouldn’t do anything about the asshole on the road, except to express your feelings at the highest possible decibel. It would be great if he ended up with a flat tire and you could drive on by, smiling. Or suppose he asked for directions and you knew the way, and you also knew a really, really long, very indirect route and . . . But these are the pipedreams of the marginally nasty. There are lives involved here, so the asshole in the car usually just gets away with it.

By the way, “asshole” is the technical term for anyone committing an offense against you in a moving vehicle. . .

Name-Calling Is Good

With off-the-road offenders you can be more creative in your name-calling: besides “idiot,” there’s always “moron” (not politically correct, but satisfying, and not quite as offensive as “retard”), “cretin,” “nincompoop” (old-fashioned, but it’ll get their attention), “lamebrain,” “birdbrain”, “shit-for-brains.” Ever notice how many expressions contain the word shit? I also feel compelled to point out that any of the above expressions can be prefaced by “total,” “absolute,” or, of course, the ever-popular f-word.

 Muttering names under your breath is a start, but not nearly satisfying enough. You have to actually do something:

Nastiness Is Its Own Reward

• Send someone who’s bugging you an e-mail warning that it must be forwarded to 47.5 of his dearest friends in the next 10 seconds or all his toenails will fall off and you’ll have terminal flatulence. Personally, I sometimes can’t resist the emails that promise me good luck if I pass them on. Is this nastiness or superstition? Whatever. It makes me feel better.

• Leave gum under your seat at the theatre. Legitimate theatre gets more points than movie houses, where everyone is a slob anyway. Besides, those Broadway prices could make you cranky enough to do worse.

• Put something in the wrong recycle bin. Oh I know, I know: the planet, the plague of plastic, the environment, civic duty, blah, blah, blah. But you don’t do it all the time, so you won’t destroy the Earth just this once. Besides, there is considerable evidence that everything ends up in one place anyway.

•You know that nosy neighbor down the hall? Open a piece of junk mail that gets into your mailbox by mistake then slip it under his door. It won’t do any real harm, I mean who cares that he gets the valued customer issue of the Victoria’s Secret catalog, but it will make him wonder what else you’ve seen. And know.

•How about those irritating forms in the doctor’s office. Especially when you’ve filled the damn things out before. What if . . . you filled it out correctly, except for one little detail. One guy I know checked Yes for the the Are You Pregnant box, another gave his sex as “Reptile.” Nasty? A little. Harmless? For sure. Fun? What do you think.

These are just a few examples. Be creative and come up with your own nasty bits. I know you can do it, and believe me, it will make you feel SO much better. If done properly, it will not hurt anyone in any meaningful way, and will not get you slapped, arrested, fired, or suspended from your bowling team. It doesn’t cost anything, has no calories, nobody ever has to know — and it’s good for your mental health.

Remember, the serial killer you save may be . . . you!


An earlier version of this article appeared as: 
Try A Little Nastiness





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