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The 95% Rule

Yesterday morning, I was walking back to the house from the gym - my usual route, across Canal Street. Per usual at 7.45am, the road was filled with rushing cars, commuting to points downtown. Per usual, I entered the crosswalk. And for nearly the hundredth time, I almost got sideswiped by a car that was legally mandated to stop for pedestrians.

All of that was, sadly, well within the norm of my experience. But what pushed me over the edge was the fact that the car that nearly killed me took the time to roll down his window and scream obscenities at me. The car was a Lexus, driven by a man in his 50s or 60s.

If only he had paused before the crosswalk,  rather than after. Evidently he had the time to do one but not the other?

What's a compassionate human being to do?

Pause. Breathe. Forget about it. Send a dose of kindness his way, enough to disinfect him from whatever scum was infiltrating his mind.

Did I do that? Of course not at the time. But later - maybe.

When's the last time you thought to yourself one of the following scenarios? Insert the relevant examples from your own life here!

  • Why is that person doing that [insert annoying / bullying / obnoxious behavior here]? It must be intentional.
  • They're such a jerk to do this to me. They know that it makes me angry when they [nearly kill me in the pedestrian crosswalk, leave out dirty dishes, forget to pick up the dry cleaning, yell for no apparent reason, or example of your choice!]. How can they be that way?

We've all been there. We've dealt with jerks - whether at home, at work, at school, or just passing down the street. Some of those jerks are our closest family and friends.

I'm going to propose a rule, which I'll call the 95% rule:

95% of the time, the jerk* doesn't know that they're being the jerk. 

They think that they're in the right - or at least, they're convinced that they're not in the wrong.

Why do I think that?

Because: do you remember the last time you were intentionally a jerk?


Your case was different. You were tired, you were hungry, you were upset; or the day just wasn't going your way. Bad news had come in via email or text. Your kid had misbehaved at school. Your spouse had missed their train. Your spaghetti was overcooked and there was no time for a redo.

And thus forms the basis for jerky behavior. For me, too.

So, I'm going to let it slide this time, Lexus Man. I can only assume that you are dealing with some pretty gnarly shit. But it's mostly for my own sake. Because being angry is one of the opposite stances to being kind. And being angry is only going to affect me.

Just, try not to kill me next time, Lexus Man - deal**? 💗

* This goes for everyday jerky behavior. I'm not talking about the actual sociopaths, psychopaths, etc. among us - those are much more serious types of offenses.
** Because I'll be on the lookout for your license plate number. 


Anonymous said…
Accidentally stepped on the back of some guy's left shoe. He turned around with bloodshot eyes and started screaming at me. I apologized numerous times and he didn't stop screaming. I ran away.
EMP said…
That is quite a story! Sounds like you did everything you could. That other person was having a tough time, for sure.

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