Hard Knock Lessons

A Dirty Joke

I used to tend bar back in the day (somewhere between the Marines and being an Acu-doc), and I’d pretty much heard all the dirty jokes known to man. A while ago a patient of mine, face down and in needle heaven reminded me of one. I listened and giggled; of course I had heard it before, but I had long since forgotten it.

Now, hearing it again, with older and wiser ears, and having witnessed the unfair agony of the ‘memory of history’ I now find within the joke a message of enlightenment.

So today I bring you Hard Knock Lessons: A Dirty Joke

A young American traveling through Europe bellies up to the bar next to an elderly, visibly upset and inebriated Scottsman. “Hey buddy, why the long face?” asks the young man.

{In Scottish brogue} “It’s this town!” grumbles the old man. “You see that church down the road?” he asks, pointing his gnarled finger out the window. “I built that church… five years of me life spent working day in and day out, laying brick upon brick. But do they call me McGregor the Church Builder? No.”

“And that pier across the way,” again he raises a withered hand and points to a beautifully crafted wooden pier, “I spent two years of me life hand crafting that pier from trees that I felled and milled meself… but do they call me McGregor the Pier Builder? No!”

“And even this, “he slams his drink down on the bar top. “I’m here drinking from sun up till sun down every day whether I’m building something or not for nearly 60 years, but do they call me McGregor the Town Drunk? NO!”

A silence falls between the two men as they stare blankly at their pints. Finally, the old man lifts the beer up so that the sunlight beams through; he pauses as if to reflect then moves to drink. As the glass hits his dirty grey beard the young man hears him sigh, “but you fuck ONE goat…..”

The Unfortunate Truth

Humans… we are so completely full of our own bullshit and bravado that most of our insignificant brain power is wasted focusing on the negative. In our society particularly the wrong-doings of others seems to be excellent fodder for idle gossip and the evening news.

As a culture we are becoming nothing but disgusting sheep.

Think I’m wrong? What’s the very first thing that comes to your mind when I bring up President Nixon? Or Clinton? How about something non-political like Kurt Cobain? Did your brain go immediately to Watergate, Lewinski and a shotgun in the face? Yet each one of those people, regardless of your political or musical beliefs, did more good than bad.

We seem to have forgotten the universal truth: even monkeys fall out of trees.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to avoid screwing up at some point. The more you are out there, the more face time you’ve got the more likely you are to suffer the consequences of a public blunder.

Realize You’re on a Pedestal

The first step is really to take stock of your perceived position in not only your company, but also your community. If you are confused about what that role is, ask someone.

Unfortunately, depending on the role you’re playing in this business life you will not only be looked up to as an example and role model, but you will also be easier to see than most. And you remember how that goes, right?

Now, in this instance I suppose there is a certain sect of society where it’s not only okay to throw caution to the wind and run around town naked screaming “I am the walrus,” but it may be expected. Honestly… if you’re the drummer for an incredibly talented and popular rock band you’re going to be able to get away with a ton of shit.

However, for the rest of us, be we doctors, religious figures, or even the local book store proprietor, people are going to hold you up to a different standard. Not only that, they’ll be watching you!

Check Your Ego

Part of the problem here seems to be ego. A person who walks around acting like they are better than others is going to be held to a higher standard of conduct than normal. Sorry folks, but that’s just the way it is. You can think you’re a bad-ass, or above reproach, but the second you act like that’s what you believe you have opened yourself up to the wrath of heightened public scrutiny.

Nothing feels better to the masses than kicking the shit out of Goliath.

Try to remember to carry yourself with a bit more humility the higher up the social ladder you climb and you’ll be less likely to take a rock to the face while the gathering crowd cheerfully watches you fall.

Try to do Right

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. ~ Lord Acton

Tip of the day: don’t fuck your intern or steal damning evidence from a secure federal location… just sayin’.

Obviously you’re not going to be able to prevent the random “wups,” and honestly those seem to go away a helluvalot faster than the intentional wrongdoings. You can either be the knight in shining armor, or the Sheriff of Nottingham, but you can’t be both.

Unfortunately the days of being able to blame someone else for your screw up only exists in the political arena, so unless you’re a fifth term senator from Oregon you’re going to have to be a self-manager of your actions.

This works the same for any time you open that thing in your face called a mouth and start word vomiting your opinion. Just like actions your words are going to carry more weight with the public. Be careful what you say, where you say it, and to whom your talking.

When all else fails, Man Up!

Look, since you’re never going to be able to avoid making a mistake the best that you can do is to own it when it happens. Trying to cover things up never works, and in fact only makes the issue worse when it comes to light.

When you fuck up, admit it. Take your lumps like a champ and hit the ground running with your new campaign of awesomeness.  It takes a strong person to admit a mistake, but an even stronger one to correct it.

Be that one person who not only stands out, but isn’t afraid to stand up. This country needs more people like that.

 “How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them. ~ Benny (Benjamin) Franklin

The Moral of the Story

Actions, deeds, and words: these are what you will be measured by in the minds and hearts of your fellow man. How high up the ladder you are determines how far you have to fall.

Keep your head on straight, your pants zipped up, and when all else fails keep your overly opinionated opinions away from public scrutiny.

And remember, there are some things that no one can recover from, just like our poor man in the joke we started with… it doesn’t matter how awesome you were in life. Usually all it takes is to get caught doing the most devious thing to be the goat fucker for the rest of your life.

Originally created for ericsays.com: September 5, 2012