This entry is, quite simply, not as good as the others because it's not as foolproof, but seeing how people treat workers in the service industry can be incredibly telling. There are plenty of assholes who manage to say "please" and "thank you" to waiters who are still monsters.
"Thank you so much ... (*whisper*) and please die in a fire."
But if you're hanging out with someone who doesn't even believe people in the service industry deserve to be treated as equals, then it's time to run for the hills. It's not about manners. Anyone can have manners. It's about placing value in the belief that you are no more entitled than anyone else. Don't get me wrong; I like good service. I expect people to do their job. If my plumber or pizza delivery guy or server is rude or lazy or incompetent, I'm going to bitch about it. You've read my column long enough, you know I'm going to bitch about it. But I'll be bitching about what they've done to me -- not who they are.
"Sorry about not fixing your toilet. I smoked crack in your bathtub instead. Cool?"
You go into a restaurant, you expect to be given a menu, and you expect them to bring you the food you've ordered. And if that doesn't happen, you can be displeased with the service. But if you walk into a restaurant and believe you have a right to have your food faster than other patrons or deserve a table right away without a reservation, then you're an entitled prick. And if you treat those who work there as if they have the audacity to stand between you and your special requests, then guess what, you're awful. And not in an "Oh, Miranda, you're so deliciously awful" sort of way. Just in a "You are a terrible person who should not be allowed out in the world" sort of way. Stay in a room with yourself and make a sandwich.
There are lots of markers out there that people use when judging others. A big one is "Oh, he's so nice!!!!" That, my friends, is a shitty marker. People can be nice because they're nice, or because they want you to think they're nice, or because they want you to be nice back. There are just too many reasons a bad person can seem nice. But there is another marker that is very hard to fake: the ability to laugh at yourself.
Ideally, this laughter is done in some sort of context and doesn't just occur spontaneously for no reason.
For my money, the ability to be made fun of by those you love is one of the most important traits a person can have, and I simply do not trust anyone who can't laugh at themselves. Laughing at yourself shows confidence because you can take a joke. It shows introspection, but you understand the parts of your personality that are being ridiculed. It shows perspective because you realize no one should be above being taken down a peg. These are all admirable traits in a friend, and it's very hard to fake the ability to laugh at yourself. It's quite simply a wonderful test. I recently had a great time having a room full of friends make fun of me as we got drunk and sold my book in a Google hangout.
Yes, question the source. You shouldn't just let anyone joke about you, I guess. There are people out there who are cruel, who want to prove some selfish point with their jokes or passive-aggressively manipulate a situation. But that's why you insist upon friends that can also laugh at themselves in return. I like giving my friends shit. I also like it when my friends give me shit. And somewhat surprisingly, all this shit production proves we're not assholes.
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