“Friendly Advice On How Not To Treat People Like Ignorant Assholes,” by Rick Kast

Sep 7th, 2022 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

Everyone knows that we live in times of violent disagreements and fraying of the social fabric. It is my view that this is substantially caused, and greatly aggravated, by our inability to treat each other decently and with respect no matter how much we might disagree.

It’s easy to get along with everyone if you don’t have personal opinions. Just agree with whatever the other person says. But if, like me and most people, you have your own strong opinions, things can be more difficult. But they don’t have to be. Here’s the key. Just remember the difference between opinions and judgments.

Opinions are just what you think about something. They don’t have to be based on anything. Your favorite color might be blue, mine red. Just opinions. Who cares? No facts cut either way. Nothing to fight about. Judgments are different. Judgments are based on irrefutable facts. Like, you know, Babe Ruth hit more home runs than Ted Williams. Judgment.

The point is don’t let your opinions affect your interactions with people. Too many people do and just look where we are now. People screaming at each other at school board meetings, and protests, and political rallies. Incendiary Facebook postings and demeaning tweets. Political affiliations breaking up romantic relationships.

Here are some examples of how to avoid these kinds of acrimony. I have several friends who voted for Trump, some twice. I mean twice! Really. Well, maybe I don’t have any friends anymore who voted for him twice. But once, yeah, once. I mean there’s Mike and Steve and . . . Well, just Mike and Steve, I guess. The other day I said to Steve that Trump was the worst president in American history. He said, “That’s your opinion.” Opinion! Do you believe it?

Let me strongly emphasize here that, contrary to what Steve told me, I did not tell him he had the political sophistication of an armadillo. I will tell him that I didn’t if I can ever get him on the phone. As for Mike, he moved halfway across the country about six months ago and we haven’t spoken since. We’re still friends. I know we are.

Politics isn’t a good example. You know the old saw about not talking about politics and religion. Boy, do I avoid religion. I’m an atheist but I’m not about to tell anybody. In this country? Hell, no. I mean, well, if someone talks about everything is in the hands of God or something like that, I might just say something like, “I’m a Zeus man myself.” But, you know, that’s just humor. There’s another problem: nobody has a sense of humor anymore. Avoid humor. And opinions. Stick to judgments. Like Trump being the worst president in American history.

My friend Amy didn’t vote for Trump either time and she’s not really religious so we’re good. But, still, she’s been kind of cool to me ever since we were out and she ordered a vodka martini. I told her a martini was made with English dry gin, period. James Bond drinks vodka martinis, she said. Just since the Smirnoff placements, I told her, and he also insists they be shaken, not stirred, which is all wrong! Memo to self: Call Amy to renew discussion on the difference between judgment and opinion.

To reiterate, my point is we just have to try harder to be decent to each other and respect each other’s opinions. That’s what I told the checkout guy in the grocery the other day. After I told him that the store down the street had a big special on long-sleeved shirts. While I was staring at his arms covered with tattoos. Why the hell do people do that to themselves? They think they are Maoris or something? “Have a nice day,” he said, as he handed my my bag of groceries. He didn’t sound like he meant it.

It took me a minute to clear my head outside the grocery. Why do they beam that horrible noise throughout stores? It’s not music. More often than not it sounds like somebody’s being gored by a bull while someone strums chords on an electric guitar. And they pay some company to afflict you with it! I asked the guy in a store the other day where I’d heard some nice baroque music the last time I was in, and were now playing someone braying about missing her baby, what had happened to the good music. “Oh, we have several different types of music that recycle. You know, to appeal to different people.” What are we coming to?

Here’s the point. I am a political liberal, a believer in science, an aficionado of classical music, and a gourmet cook. I enjoy fine wine, single-malt Scotch, and a competently made cocktail. I think a man should be clean-shaven, unless he chooses to have a well-trimmed beard, and not look like a homeless person who doesn’t own a razor. I think a man’s sport jacket and pants should look like they fit him, not like they shrank two sizes or were donated to him by a much slimmer man. As for tattoos and piercings, well, don’t get me started.

But if your favorite color is chartreuse, that’s fine by me.


Rick Kast was an English major, then went to law school to learn a whole new bag of tricks. Some of his legal briefs have been bronzed for a planned legal museum that has to date raised $6.23 through a GoFundMe initiative. In addition to this fine publication, his work has appeared in Sixfold, The First Line, and Potato Soup Journal. When not writing he enjoys listening to music, good food and drink, and engaging in snappy repartee with robotic phone calls.

Tags: , ,

Comments are closed.