How to deal with a jerk

Someone once told me there are two kinds of people in life – takers and givers. We’ve all known them, the takers who care nothing about anyone except themselves. They just want their way and have no regard for what it might cost someone else.

Then there are those who are continually giving to others, always putting the needs of others seemingly ahead of their own. You’re probably thinking of someone like that right now, picturing their happy, smiling face and the thought of them warms your heart.

I got to deal with with both recently.

At work I like to park by as island. I can pull pretty close to it and it keeps people from bumping my car doors. Recently I had my spot that I liked and I arrived at work early almost every day, so it was almost always available.

I work in an office strip mall with other businesses. One day when I arrived someone was in my favorite spot and I had to park somewhere else. Evidently this driver liked that spot too, so whoever got there first got the prime parking spot by the island.

The giver

One morning I pulled in and noticed that the other car was not in the spot by the island but one over. The driver had saved the spot for me! Every morning when I came to work after that there he was parked in the second spot from the island allowing me to pull into the space I liked. He was a giver.

The taker

Then one day another driver arrived on the scene. He liked the prime spot also and he took it every morning if he got there first.

One morning I got there first, claimed my favorite spot and went into my office. However, when I came out for lunch, I found that he had parked in the spot right next to me, but he pulled within about three inches of my door. It was obvious that he had done that on purpose to make some sort of statement that “He wanted that spot and he would make my life miserable if I didn’t give it to him.” He was a taker.

I was furious! Three different ideas immediately came into my head about how to handle the situation.

My first thought was to bang his car so hard with my door to make as big of a dent as I could. But then I knew he would probably sue me for damages. Besides I’d mess up my car too. Which is what I’d been trying to avoid in the first place.

My second thought was to storm into his office let him know what a jerk he was in front of his co-workers and ask him to come outside and move his car immediately. However, I’m non-confrontational by nature and I’m just not going to make a scene if I can help it. Besides this guy was such a jerk he’d probably just laugh at me anyway.

So what did I do? I decided to squeeze into my car, drive off and vowed to never park in that space again. He could have it. It wasn’t worth the fight…and it felt horrible.

The Payoff

A day or so later I noticed another island spot just a little way up the lot that was usually empty. I started parking there and it was actually closer to my office than the spot I was parking in before.

But then I got a very sweet surprise. I’m on the phone or computer all day at work in a room with no windows so at lunch I sometimes like to sit in my car and soak up some sunshine. However, if I wanted to work on my blog or do some work on the internet I had to go someplace else because there was no internet connection in the parking lot. Well guess what? At the new spot I can a access the internet from my car!

I believe that God honors us when we do the right thing. In this situation, damaging the persons car would have only brought on more problems, even though it would have felt great for a few seconds. If I had of stormed into his office yelling and screaming, I’m the one who would have looked like a fool. Quietly moving my car and giving up my spot for another felt horrible at the time, but it doesn’t feel that way now and I like my new spot even better.

I’m in no way advocating allowing yourself to be run over, mistreated or abused, but sometimes it’s better to take the high road even when you feel like getting even. In this case it was a public spot and didn’t involve personal property so we each had equal right to it.

I’ve never met Mr. Jerk and I have no idea how he feels now. Is he happy that he bullied someone out of a parking spot and got his way? Maybe, but if he’s a normal human, with a conscience, he probably feels a little bad about it too.

The truth about jerks

Jerks and bullies will always be around, because, frankly, there is one in each of us. How many times have I just wanted my way with little regard for someone else? When the jerk in us rears his ugly head, we need to be sensitive to the needs of the other person and when we encounter one in someone else, it’s best to just move on and let that be a gentle reminder of how not to act.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourself – Philippians 2:3


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