Den of the Beastly Bear
As I may have mentioned, I try to NOT be a jerk...like most of you. I bite my tongue, let things slide, swallow my opinions... all in the name of getting along.
But every now and then you meet one of "those" people. You know the ones, the ones that get under your skin...till you just CAN'T let it slide.
From 1997-2001 I worked at General Motors Plant 6 in Pontiac, MI. building pickup trucks. I worked third shift, 10 pm-6 am and the shift attracted some "different" folks. Like our buddy James.
For a while I worked on the final line, across from a guy we'll call Keith. Keith was a heavy set, red haired Hispanic guy of about 25 yrs. of age. For the most part an affable guy....for the most part
Keith's Achilles heel, personality wise was his overwhelmingly high opinion of himself. From his perspective, his Associates degree from the local community college made him a God of all human knowledge. This caused him to go on long tirades about whatever the topic of the day was.
Google was in it's infancy, with Yahoo being the search engine of choice for most everyone. Nobody had smart phones...
Keith, having taken computer classes at the community college...would often turn his tirades against the "Stupid old Men" in Congress that wanted to regulate the Internet.
"They're trying to regulate something they know nothing about!!!
It's just stupid!!! If you're going to have an opinion on something that important, you should really educate yourself about it...otherwise you just sound ignorant!"
Good lord I don't know how many times I heard THAT while working across form him.
While I tried to let these tirades just roll off my back, there were times I just couldn't keep my mouth shut...
So I often poked holes in his faulty logic, pointed out hypocrisies, and corrected him when he said something so flat out WRONG I just couldn't let it go.
Should you disagree with him, his first line of defense was the taunt: "And how many years of college did you go to?"
To which I would answer "It's knowledge Keith, not College that's important here...don't believe me? Look it up on the Internet!"
I always got the feeling that Keith spent his early life as a spoiled, indulged child. He'd never be able to play poker as his every thought was revealed by his face. He had very little ability to reign in his emotions. Light skinned with freckles across the bridge of his nose, his face would go crimson at the slightest bit of anger.
I remember one particular rant that he went on was about the nepotism employed by the Union in getting their kids into the plant.
I just looked at him...though I knew the story, I asked innocently.
"So...how'd you get hired in here?"
"My Dad's a Skilled Trades Electrician, he got me in...."
"Uh huh..." I said
"Mr. Pot, meet Mr. Kettle...news flash, you're both black!!!"
His face reddened, veins stuck out on his forehead...I thought he was having a stroke.
"It's not the same thing..." he stated.
"Yes it is," I interrupted "it's exactly the same thing. Everybody in here that's been hired in the last five years, is here because they KNOW somebody or a parent works for GM...EVERYBODY!!!"
He snorted his derision of my opinion and stopped talking to me the rest of the day, a common punishment for disagreeing with him....ah, silence.
Things REALLY came to a head one day when he started a gun control rant/argument...a subject with which I am quite well versed.
I'll not bore you with the whole long argument, but when he said to me:
"Nobody needs a semi-automatic to gun to shoot deer, where you shoot 3 bullets every time you pull the trigger!"
"That's not what that means Keith. What you're describing is the 3-shot burst setting on a full auto machine gun/assault rifle, and nobody hunts with those! What semi-auto means is that when you pull the trigger the gun shoots 1 shot, then the gun reloads itself and is ready to fire again the next time you pull the trigger. But you must pull the trigger every time, 1 pull = 1 shot." I replied calmly.
"You're full of shit," he said face coloring "that's not what I was told..."
I had had enough.
"Look Keith, I don't know who's filling your head with the stupid bullshit you've been spewing for the last 2 hours, but to anyone that knows what they're talking about...you sound like an idiot!
You want to regulate something you know nothing about!!!
Just like those old men that want to regulate your Internet...
And that's just stupid!!! If you're going to have an opinion on something this important, you should really educate yourself about it...otherwise you just sound ignorant!!!"
Ok, maybe that was a little over the top, throwing his own words back at him...but it felt so right!
His face went from pink to bright red, then he crossed the line.
"Fuck you, you MOTHER Fucker!!! I'm sick of your fucking bullshit..."
"What bullshit is that?" I interrupted calmly "You mean the bullshit where I tell you that you're wrong and uninformed? Seems I have to tell you that a LOT!"
"Fine Mother Fucker! I'll never talk to you EVER AGAIN!!!" he vowed.
"Oh please," I answered "we both know you have neither the willpower nor the maturity to make good on that threat!"
He went from crimson to purple, and I thought his head might just explode as he declared:
"I will NEVER, say another WORD to you, as LONG as I LIVE!"
spittle flying as he enunciated every word!
"Never say never..." I replied.
Next day I figured he'd be over his funk as usual..so I greeted him with my typical "Hey Keith!"
I got nothing but the "look of daggers" in return.
"Really?" I said, shrugged and went to work.
After about a week of this...I couldn't help but start pushing his buttons.
One of Keith's MANY rants was about his hatred of country music. I happen to be a fan. But out of respect for my coworker's feelings, I never played any on my stereo. In my car I had a 90 min. cassette of Marty Robin's "Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs", it don't GET more country than that!
So I came in, offered my daily "Hey Keith!" to more daggers...
So I popped my cassette into my stereo and hit "play"!
Keith's face went immediately crimson.
"Hey man, I haven't listened to this in a while...and I kind of miss it. Do you mind?"
"All you have to do is ask me to shut it off and I will..."
"Cool..." I said, and went about my business.
Was it childish? Absolutely!!!
But I was determined to break him and his foolishness...so every day we played out the above scenario! This lasted a month...until Keith put in for a different shift rather than speak a word to me.
This bothered me not in the least, as I got rid of a class "A" jerk in favor of a nice girl from first shift.
A couple months went by and I didn't give Keith another thought.
Then one day as I was walking out of the plant, I looked up and saw Keith walking in...talking to a buddy.
"Hey Keith, How ya Doing?" I asked.
Without missing a beat Keith replied:
"Ok Joe, How are you?"
I leaned in, looked him in the eye smiling and said:
Be Well Folks!