Over the past few days I’ve heard four different people announce (always dramatically and usually quite grumpily), “I hate people.” Two of those announcements came while driving when it is really pretty easy to hate people but the other two happened, well, I can’t quite remember when they happened but I do remember thinking that the person announcing that they hated people didn’t really hate people; they just hated the people they were dealing with at that particular moment.
That’s the problem with sweeping statements like “I hate people” or “I’ll never gain back that weight I lost” or “I’ll always love (fill in the blank with just about anything).” Sweeping statements, like most dramatic gestures, feel marvelous while you’re making them and announcing them to the world but they can be mighty hard to maintain. Actually, any statement including the words “love,” “hate,” “always” and “never” are tip offs that maybe you should rethink making them, at least in public or on Facebook since the odds are quite good that tomorrow you might wake up and want to announce the exact opposite word into your daily sweeping statement.
Of course, I’m not saying that I never hate people. I do, quite often, but generally speaking the people I hate at eight in the morning are not the same people I hate at ten at night. Besides, I don’t really “hate” them; I find them irritating or frustrating or impossible to be around for a whole host of reasons ranging from not agreeing with me on what temperature to set the air conditioning to not playing the game of life fairly, at least not in my opinion.
I am finding that as I get older, my tolerance for other people is both increasing and decreasing, a situation that makes absolutely no sense at all. I’m much more tolerant of people as a whole since I’ve finally accepted the rock solid fact that I, most definitely, have zero control over anyone else on this planet other than yours truly, and much more intolerant if I have to be around anyone else on the planet for more than about an hour or so straight. The only solution I can come up with is to be around people in small chunks of time with an open door policy so I can escape when I’ve had enough. It’s kind of like dieting–I can only do that in small chunks of time too. It’s not too effective but I rationalize that it’s better than always eating the entire pizza by myself.
Bottom line: If you’re tailgating me or disagreeing with me just to be disagreeable or one of us is simply being a jerk, I’m going to steal a line from Steve McQueen in my all time favorite movie, Bullitt: stay the hell away from me. I’ll return the favor because really, it’s better for both of us and the odds are quite good that tomorrow we won’t hate each other at all. It will be a brand new day and we’ll most likely each have someone else to stay the hell away from. Life is funny that way.