Last week, Rhys and I joined an old Army mate of Rhys’, we’ll call him Bob, for a pint at our favourite pub. The haddock was superb. The company, ahem, not so much. By the end of the evening, Bob was loudly informing the entire pub that everyone he’d ever met, ‘present company not excepted’, were ‘arseholes’.

But he forgot to peer in the looking glass. If he had, he would’ve met the reason people treat him brusquely: himself. Bob teaches everyone to treat him disrespectfully by treating them badly. They’re only reacting.

The evening began so well but it soon devolved when Bob called the long-suffering woman taking our order ‘stupid’ after he’d changed his mind five times.

Four pints later, he was cursing at the barman. He slapped Rhys on the back so hard, the pint Rhys had just raised to his lips sloshed into his lap and he nearly chipped a tooth. So it was a relief when Bob’s exhausted wife arrived to collect her husband and herd him home.

‘Ah, there’s me old cow’, Bob shouted. ‘Past her prime, she is. Gone off like a bad cheese’. A stunned hush fell over the pub and Bob’s mood turned from sodden bonhomie to glowering anger.

‘I’m just jestin’. Laugh, you arseholes’, he shouted. There was silence. Giving his wife a bone rattling slap on the back, he stormed out of the pub stopping only to shout, ‘Arseholes! That’s all I ever meet: arseholes!’

We teach people how to treat us. Bob never remembers his behaviour after a good boozy evening, but everyone else does. His reputation precedes him. If they ever meet him again, they will treat Bob according to the nasty piece of work that he is and he will wonder why all he ever meets is ‘arseholes’.

Bob makes no effort to be nice. He’s abrasive, contradictory and demeaning but couches it in a flimsy shell of humour that he believes makes it all okay. Everyone sees straight through the fake bonhomie and knows that Bob is not a very nice man. Naturally, they respond in kind. He’s taught people how to treat him.

I believe we create our own reality. If you treat people well, they will respond in kind. My experience bears this out. Almost everyone I’ve ever met has been kind and pleasant to me, reciprocating how I treated them.

The next time someone tells you that humanity are all ‘arseholes’, ask yourself how they treat people. Disrespectfully? Condescendingly? Impatiently? They taught everyone how to treat them. So why is it such a surprise to them when those chickens come home to roost?

Photo by fredcamino