People throw beer cans at me when I jog. This would not bother me except that the beer cans are empty.
I blame this behavior on the fact that we resent people who are bettering themselves. It is easier to throw a (empty) beer can at a jogger than to improve yourself. There is a Chinese proverb that states, “A run of thousand miles ends when you donk the jogger on the head with a can of Stroh’s.”
We all have a deep and abiding resentment for those who are improving themselves. It is a recurring irritation, like poison ivy. Poison ivy does not bother me until I stick my hand in it. Then, for the next week I am constantly reminded that had I been more mindful I would not be in the throes of itchiness. I look at people who do not have poison ivy and think, “Why is that person so much more blessed than I?”
People more physically or financially prosperous than myself, like poison ivy, only bug me when I make contact with them. “Friends don’t care if you have unrealized potential,” said Ed Chigliak on Northern Exposure. People who don’t care about my unrealized potential are exactly the sort of folks with whom I want to consort.
Not surprisingly, people throw things at me.
I don’t want to see you doing better than I’m doing anymore than you want to see me doing well. I don’t even like to see people raking their lawn. All I can think is, “Lordy, that person’s life is so complete that he has time to rake! I lament my misguided decisions. If I had saved even a fraction of every paycheck I could have saved enough money by now to buy my own rake.” However, I do not think, “I ought to clobber that guy with a beer can.”
I was jogging recently. I saw an SUV with four dudes in it coming toward me. A hand came out of the sun roof and lobbed an empty beer can at me. I stopped. The SUV screeched to a stop. I faced the SUV thinking, “How stupid am I? There are four guys in that car. Watching the Dark Knight Trilogy does not make me Batman. ”
The doors of the SUV, all four doors, opened. I swallowed. Then all four doors closed and the SUV sped away. I assumed that they realized their beer would get warm if they stopped to pound me, but I sincerely hope the following conversation took place:
“Let’s pound him.”
“Yeah. There are four of us and only one of him.”
“Dude, hold up, there are four of us and only one of him. But he’s just standing there. Waiting. I bet he’s Batman.”
Incidentally, Bruce Wayne does not irritate me. Nor does Tony Stark. Sure, both those guys are one percenters, but they give back. Also, they are so much better than I am that there is no reason to resent them. It doesn’t matter how hard I work, I will never be a billionaire-genius-superhero (as far as you know). We all say, “If I were as rich as Bruce Wayne I’d be a superhero, too,” sure and certain in the knowledge that we will never have to prove it.
I’ll never be a one percenter in the financial sense, but I am a social one percenter. My wife and I enjoy the TV shows The Middle and Raising Hope. They are funny shows but we like them mostly because, deep in our hearts, we know that we are exactly one percent better than the families portrayed in those shows…exactly one percent of the time.
If I were a better writer I would have come up with a conclusion to this piece by now. I’ll just leave you with some advice: If you see a jogger, throw a beer can at him. Chances are it won’t be me and by the time you get to me you will be out of beer cans, or too drunk to toss one. Wait, that doesn’t seem right. Oh well, it’s good enough.