In my attempt to be a better person in 2011, I've been trying to give people the benefit of the doubt. Maybe that dickhead who just cut me off in traffic isn't really a dickhead: maybe his wife is in labor at the hospital and he has to get there fast. Maybe he's late for a really important meeting. Maybe he really has to pee. Meanwhile, maybe my self-righteous annoying friend on Facebook is just lonely. Maybe the lady who cussed me out because my dog cut her off on the sidewalk is just having a really, really bad day.
Sometimes this works, but often I don't have time to think of other people in compassionate terms. In this case, I've come up with a much better solution: to assume the worst about everyone.
Take the case of the person driving in front of you really slowly. They're not law-abiding or maybe misplaced their glasses. They're stupid...and loving it. They absolutely adore the way their slow driving makes everyone go crazy. They get up in the morning thinking about how awful they're going to ruin everyone else's day. Or the guy who didn't wipe down his sweaty bench for you at the gym. It's not that he forgot. He wants you to sit in his sweat. He came to the gym for the express reason of grossing you out with his sweat. What a jerk that guy is! And perverted, too. And the lone girl talking loudly on her cell phone on your otherwise-silent bus? She thinks silence and peace is for fat losers.
I find that if you start thinking in terms of the Absolute Asshole, the person who actively goes about his or her day to annoy as many other people as possible, you actually come full circle and start laughing because it's basically impossible for a human being to enact a plan in order to annoy, offend and inconvenience as many people as possible. This is because, even in that reality, someone else is going to be an idiot in front of him (or her), fumbling with change when getting in line at the bus that Absolute Asshole was going to enjoy not moving down to make room for other people on, or crinkling candy wrappers at the movie theater Absolute Asshole was going to have a great time ruining for other people by texting very brightly.
So next time someone acts like an inconsiderate idiot in front of you, blocking the aisle with her shopping cart or talking on his phone while interacting with a cashier, don't struggle and try to imagine the best of that person. Think of how much they actively went out of their way to be so awful, and strangely, that will make you feel better, along with the knowledge that someday we'll all be dead.