Friday, October 19, 2007

The Art of Being a Bastard

As I have said, I do actually enjoy being a bastard at times. It is not something to be done indiscriminately, however. The whole thing with my roommate the other night got me thinking about the way I respond to problems like this. I have come to conclusion that I will pursue reasonable solutions to problems for only so long. I give people the chance to respond in an appropriate fashion. I will give people multiple opportunities to respond. At a certain point, however, I say "fuck it" and take a more "creative" approach to problem solving.

But there are three forms of bastardness. The first is the kind I used on my roommates. It is very clearly being a bastard, but a slightly indirect fashion. This form has a very specific target, and is applied to a very specific end.

For example, during the course of my first year as a graduate student, one of the grad students did a series of things which angered a number of us. They accused some of our colleagues of being stupid because they did not speak up in class very often, and declared that they did not want to work with these people on a group project (the groups were put together by the professor for the class who is also the director of our program, and he only assigned the groups after observing people over the course of most of the semester - he basically told her "too bad, get over it, go to work"). Both of the people in question here happen to be good friends of mine, who I knew to actually be far more intelligent than this person. She also made some disparaging remarks about the rest of us because most of us because we were younger than her, and since she had "real world experience" and we did not, she was in a better position to tell us how to be grad students (despite the fact that this was her first year, too!) and how to live our lives. Yeah, didn't go over so well with us. The next semester, I had my chance to be a bastard. We had another class with a group project. I ended up being on one of the "committees" with her. Over the course of the project, I found out that she hadn't really done anything for any of the committees she was on. As part of final report for this project, we had to write up a short paragraph on what each of did to contribute to the project. I had assumed editorial control over compiling this final report and had asked everyone to send my their little write up. She didn't. After several requests, I reached the "fuck it, I'm going to be a bastard" point and wrote it myself. I gave her name and said she "reported to be on the following committees". And that was it. Everyone else's write had information on which committees they worked on, what specific duties they carried out, etc. It became very clear to the people we were presenting this report to that she hadn't done jack shit. It took a while, and was done in a fairly subtle fashion, but I was able to play the bastard.

This form of bastardness must be used very carefully, however. It must well planned and carried out in such a fashion that it hopefully prevents further or escalated problems. It also must be done rather sparingly. If you are this kind of bastard all the time, it begins to lose it's effect. People just end up saying "yeah yeah, whatever" and ignoring it. This defeats the point of being a bastard. The entire purpose of being this first form of a bastard is to achieve a specific goal. It is most effective when people don't necessarily see it coming. It lets them know you are serious. When it works, it works beautifully. When it doesn't, things get bad. If you do it sparingly, and plan your approach right, you will succeed without too much fallout or collateral damage.

The second form is really just being a bastard for the sake of being a bastard. There is very little planning involved and it is a response to a specific situation, applied on the spur of the moment. This is blocking out someone who is trying to speed ahead in a construction zone. It's just responding in a bastardly fashion because you can. If you want an example, check out this Anywhere But Here strip. (I hope Jason Siebels doesn't mind me using one of his comics, but it really is just a perfect depiction of my point!)

The third form is is my favorite and most used form. But this is usually only carried out on friends in appropriate situations. Again, it is being a bastard for the sake of being a bastard. There is no real malice behind it. It's just giving your friends shit.


propsqueen said...

I seem to remember a disassembling of an alarm clock in your past :-) Speaking of.

RogueHistorian said...

Hey, in my defense (as if I really need or want any), he had left that alarm clock on over several weekends in a row. I asked multiple times. Didn't work. I decided to go with the "creative" option.

Never got left on over the weekend again!