A Jerk is A Jerk, No Matter How Famous

People who hold positions of power are assholes. They may hold those positions for many reasons: merit, cheating, nepotism, luck. But it is rare to see a person in power who deserves the power and associated privileges he or she has at his disposal. I have met a couple of those deserving people. I love them and remember their birthdays but they are the exception.

You don’t have to be an asshole to become powerful. But you do increase your chances of becoming an asshole as you accumulate more power. People tell you you’re important, you’re special, you’re pulling the strings. Only the very strong of character could resist becoming an asshole, given all that unconditional approval.

At my last job, I worked for a few different bosses. I was an assistant, so I was in charge of booking flights, hotels, doing expense claims. The bosses used to get a little hinky about their travel. They had the hotel chains they preferred, the seats they liked (business class, always business class) and the times of day they preferred to fly. I tried to accommodate these preferences but you know, I don’t have a lot of pull at Air Canada (and these guys refused to fly Westjet) so sometimes I had to brush the bullshit off my hands and say, hey, guess what, I did my best, now SUCK IT.

One time, the really high-maintenance boss was on a business trip in Ottawa. He was booked on a return flight through Toronto and when he got to the airport he called me and asked me to reschedule the second leg of the flight. He wanted to get home sooner. I tried explaining there was no way for him to get back sooner – he was already in transit and he was waiting for a connecting flight and there are those pesky time zones to consider, not to mention that he could have just gone up to the counter in the airport and asked them his own damn self instead of calling me in BC – but he kept calling me and harassing me and I kept calling and harassing the airline and then finally we got him on a flight that left sooner. But because it had to stop in Calgary, he actually got home LATER than he would have.

Then there was the time I – and all his peers – heard about it for weeks afterward because I booked a “ghetto” hotel.

And do we all remember Mr. I’mma take that charity banner right off your wall and put it in my suitcase and take it back to head office?

In light of this, I’m having a little trouble with all the news items about the misbehaving members of our government. We’ve got a former MP with cocaine in the car, we’ve got Ms. Airport Hissy Fit, (more interesting: those two people are boinking each other!) and now we’ve got Mr. Just Coming Back From Mexico Hey! Don’t Take my Tequila.

If I take my cue from the newspaper articles and their associated commentary I think I am supposed to care about these jerks being jerks, supposed to be outraged and um, then what? Next steps please? Moving forward? Why should I waste my (admittedly, unlimited, so: unwastable) outrage on people who are not going to get fired? Premier Gordon Campbell drove drunk in 2003. He’s been re-elected as Premier of BC. Twice. During the Olympics, an MLA got caught driving drunk. She’s still an MLA. (but she’s really sorry) Clearly the people who need to be outraged, namely a) these peoples’ bosses and b) the citizens of the country / province who are voting for them, are incapable of outrage so why is it news?

People break the law all the time. People act like jerks all the time. If people in power break the law and act like jerks and get more attention for it, they’ll just continue to believe they’re better than the no-name jerks. And they’re not. So if we’re not going to fire them, I say we ignore them and hope they get bored and go away.

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