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How To Get Along With Everybody - Relationship Advice

Updated on April 25, 2012

Dear Veronica,

My wife and I both lost our jobs with the same company in the last yea year. We both have college educations and had careers we’d worked hard for. My job was in logistics, my wife’s was in quality assurance. The long and short of it is, I have taken a job as an assistant manager of a fast food chain restaurant and my wife is staying at home. It can’t make sense for her to take a job where she won’t earn as much as we have to pay for daycare. She’s still sending out resumes but meanwhile I’m the only breadwinner.

I’m having a horrible time at this job. The employees are rude, the manager I report to is obnoxious, not to mention 11 years younger than I am. The customers are a nightmare.

During this transition we sold our house. It was a short sale. We had been in good standing with our credit and mortgage right up until we were both redundant at our workplace. Because of this the bank worked with us on the short sale. It was difficult but it was better than foreclosure. It wasn’t a mansion or anything from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous but it was a private home where each of our 3 kids had their own room. We went from living like that in a nice suburb with a lot of privacy to living in a 2 bedroom apartment in a city. Now all 3 kids share one bedroom which has created a lot of stress in the home. My wife is a champ. She does her best and it’s certainly not easy. In this apartment building we have to deal with neighbors a lot more than ever before. A few neighbors and residents in the area have been exceptionally intolerable. In general it’s all just very annoying and people can be very difficult.

We went from having 2 cars down to one. It’s hard for my wife to have to take public transportation with children in tow to do grocery shopping or doctor appointments or run errands, or even to get the kids to pre-school or kindergarten. I wind up having to take the bus to work a lot. Again, the bus is adding to my aggravation. Tonight a woman standing next to me on the bus spilled her soda all the way down my pants and then told me that’s what I get for wearing nice pants. This isn’t an isolated incident. I don't know how much more of it I can stand.

Veronica, I have no intention of leaving or quitting or doing anything stupid. You don’t have to talk me down from the ledge. But I don’t know how to get through every day like this. I need help.

I know you give advice about all kinds of relationships. Can you give me advice on how to get along with everyone in the entire world?

Tio Joe

Dear Tio Joe,

Congratulations on finding work. And a great big kudos to you for doing the responsible, difficult, honorable thing. No one wants to take a job that they feel they’ve worked beyond at some point in their life. No one wants to work harder and make less. No one wants to lose benefits and vacation days and clout. No one wants to lose their nice house, or their second car, or anything else they’ve worked hard for. No one wants to do what you’ve done. But what you’ve done is the mark of an exemplary Man. You’re doing whatever it is you have to do to put food on the table for your family. You’re not neglecting your responsibilities. You’re not on the dole, living on my tax dollars, walking around with your hand out, spending all day whining and complaining, behaving like an entitled spoiled brat, like so many other people are doing. You, Sir, are a Hero.

You’re awesome, in every sense of the word. If this country had more people like you we would all be in such better shape. Years from now your children will tell their children the caliber of man you were as they grew up. They will hold you in high regard as a role model. They will speak of all the sacrifices you made to keep them clothed and fed and sheltered. That’s probably not the case now, and won’t be what they understand for a while. But when they are out there doing it for themselves, believe me they will understand. And they will have your shining example of what it means to be a Good Man. They know what to do to have a good life. They will have learned from your work ethic, your devotion to fatherhood, and your incredible sense of responsibility. They will be proud to remember and to speak about these days because of you. They will be well equipped to deal with the realities of life. Thank you for that. Thank you for making all of our futures that much better by giving the future generation the values and tools that you obviously possess.

And this is the first part of my advice on how to get along with everyone in the world. Try to remember that your values, ethics, and strengths are exemplary. When you’re dealing with a crappy neighbor, an ungrateful employee, a shitty customer, or an ignorant bus rider, just remember that you are made of better stuff. And, you’re setting the example for your children to grow up to be better, too. I hope you can take a deep breath and find at least some solace in that.

The second part of my advice is the other side of the same coin.

Pity those that aren’t as well mannered, educated, or behaved as you are. Instead of letting yourself feel frustrated and angry, try to find your way to feeling sorry for them. Anyone that spills their soda on a stranger and doesn’t know enough to apologize is obviously not going to go on to have the life you will, with a spouse whose a “champ” or a bank that is so pleased with their credit and record that they negotiate a short sale instead of foreclosing.

Maybe they were raised by idiots, maybe they have damaged brain cells, maybe they have something going on in their lives that is so horrific that it has sucked every ounce of niceness and dignity out of them. Whatever the case is, it’s to be pitied.

Just today I had an encounter. I was walking in to a store at about the same time that a man coming the other way up the street was. He not only stepped in front of me, he grabbed the door, walked in and then let the door go. I stood there for a moment, basically watching the door slam in my face, thinking wow what an asshole. Then I thought, my husband would never, ever behave like that. He would have held the door for anyone, he would have smiled, he would have been kind.

I felt lucky to have married the man I did. Then I felt sorry for this jerk that cut in front of me and let the door close on me. I guess it’s a take on “Living well is the best revenge.” Not that I wanted revenge. But the idea is the same. It’s hard to be mad at someone that can not possibly be inviting kindness and niceness into their lives. Imagine the Karma this man builds. imagine the threefold law working in his life. Imagine all of them, Tio Joe, reaping what they sow.

Remember this quote:

"Don't get the impression that you arouse my anger. You see, one can only be angry with those he respects." - Richard M. Nixon

I hold that quote in high regard. And this leads me to the 3rd part of my advice on how to deal with everybody in the world.

When you fester, when your mood implodes and you feel lousy, when you lash out because everyone has gotten on your last nerve, they win. They win! You don’t want that. It’s not the way it should be. You should be the winner.

And you will be. You will survive and you will endure, and you will succeed. There is no doubt in my mind.

There’s one last piece of advice I’d like to offer. Try to consider this. For every idiot that spills their drink and acts like you deserve it, there’s another bus rider that is an aspiring artist, and a woman that just beat breast cancer, and a teenager that blew the whistle on a bully in his school. For every rude-as-hell customer there’s a person celebrating their 80th birthday, a woman who just found out she’s pregnant, a man that’s just received a funny dancing cat video on his phone.

You’re allowing your attention and your mood be drawn and governed by the dolts that don’t deserve your time. If instead you paid some mind-time on some of the others that slip through the cracks, who knows. You and your family might get invited to a free concert or art exhibit. You might get to say “Congratulations!” to someone that did something great, or has something to celebrate. You might get to hear about an interesting story, or a funny website. You might even make a friend.

I had saved this 4th part of the advice for last because I first wanted to show you that I understand where you’re coming from. I ask that you be open enough to consider this angle: It’s not the city, or the bus, or the fast food chain, or the apartment building. It really isn’t. It’s just the numbers.

When you live on a cul de sac there are maybe 100 people living in a city block’s radius from you. Maybe only one of them is truly annoying. There’s not much reason for people who don’t live there to be around other than to visit specific friends. Compare that to living in the city. There are at least 20 times as many people living, working, shopping and commuting around you in a city block’s radius from your home. By sheer logic that means 20 times more people that are truly annoying.

It's the same with work, and the bus, and everything. Plus, 20 really annoying people will take their toll on the rest much harder than that 1 annoying person. Therefore, also by the logic int he numbers, more people in the city are annoyed like you are. More people are aggravated and festering and pushed to their limits. So in addition to 20 times as many idiots, you have more than 20 times as many people greatly affected by idiots.

I’m not arguing your thinking at all. I prefer the country to the city at this point in my life. But if you attempt to re-see your surroundings looking for the good instead of lingering on the bad, you’re bound to be a whole lot happier.

You’re a remarkable man, Tio Joe. Best to you and yours, always.


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