Arts & Culture

You can’t fix yourself by breaking someone else

By Norb Rug

I have heard that life is precious and that we need to be careful with our actions, our words and our attitude. I fully agree with this statement and believe it to be spot-on. I believe in the golden rule and that karma will impact you good or bad.

We all need to live by the important message these words contain. What is totally unacceptable to me is the curious idea that some people have that they have to make everyone else look bad in order to make themselves look good. I had a coworker that behaved just this way. He was the darling of management and despised by all but one of his union brothers. He never had anything good to say about anybody behind their backs. This included management who he ripped with matchless gusto.

The management at the company I worked for in Buffalo was unaware of this and thought so highly of him that, with his one friend’s urging, they made him a supervisor. Unfortunately, I was one of the people that now had to work for them rather than with them. Talk about hell. Although I completed all the work that he assigned me and did it correctly, he would continually report to his boss that I was a screw up, that I did things wrong or that I took too much time.

After having a meeting with his boss a few times and relating to him that this man’s concept of reality was as factual as a roadrunner cartoon to no avail, I decided if I was going to be branded as a problem employee, I might as well be one. It would be easier and much more enjoyable.

Gone were the days of working hard to get all my assigned work done before the end of the shift. I would play cards with my friends for a few hours each day. There was always people on the next shift to get the work done. The days were over of my being the first one working after a break or lunch. I would have one more cigarette before returning to work, maybe two. I knew I could count on the fact that the work was always there when I got back to it. I no longer worked thru my lunch or break to complete something. Taking naps became an option. The days of my doing a “professional” job, a job I could be proud of had ended.

The times of doing a job to the best of my ability were over and the days of taking short cuts to complete a job had arrived. Okay was now good enough. I have to say that doing a barely adequate job as quickly as possible was easier and gave me plenty of time to read the paper or just gold brick. To go on the roof and enjoy the weather or just chat with my coworkers.

Many of you might know someone who is so angry, nasty and hateful, so full of self-loathing that they spend their whole life tearing down other people hoping to make themselves look good. Eventually people will figure out what they are doing. If someone you know is constantly bad mouthing everyone else to you, stop and think about what they say about you when you aren’t around, I guarantee it isn’t complimentary.

Years ago I worked with another person who was gruff and seemed to hate me. This was not unusual for them because this person hated everyone. Whenever I would ask them with help or a suggestion from them they would say “You’re the mechanic, figure it out.” The only people they were nice to were the bosses, at least to their faces, but they didn’t have anything good to say about any of them either when they weren’t around. I decided to change their attitude, at least toward me. Every day when I saw them I would say “Good morning.” in a voice dripping with honey. At first they ignored me. After a while I would get a grunt. Finally, I would get a begrudging “good morning”. We didn’t end up being BFFs but at least they ended up being civil with me.

In my limited experience, I have found that I can change some hateful people not by screaming, yelling and hollering at them, but by being nice to them, even when I wanted to lash out, take them by the throat and shake them till their eyeballs fell out. Taking the “high road”, being nice to people has usually worked for me and if it didn’t, at least I knew I didn’t stoop to their level.

I have known many people in my life most of them were nice but he always seemed to meet up with a few _holes. By not reducing himself to their level, he felt good about himself and even think I may have changed a few people.

Norb is a writer from Lockport. Follow his blog at

About the author


News and art, national and local. Began as alternative weekly in 1990 in Buffalo, NY. Publishing content online since 1996.

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