We believe that most people (regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, religion, national origin, income level, sexual orientation, hair color or any other statistic used to classify us) are good people.
But in every group, there is also a small percentage of total a-holes. So how can we identify them? Is there an accurate litmus test for a-holes?
One of our favorites is to observe how people treat others who are in a position to serve them, such as a waiter or waitress in a restaurant.
Recently we went out to dinner with a dental industry executive who was trying hard to impress us. He was attempting to be funny and a bit brash – the life of the party.
It was an Asian restaurant and our waitress was obviously a new immigrant to the US with fairly poor language skills. Our host asked her to recommend a sake (a delicious Japanese fermented beverage) to go with the sushi. She timidly pointed to one on the menu, saying in broken English “This one is very popular.”
For some reason this set off our host, and he began berating her.
“I don’t care what’s popular! McDonald’s is popular and that is total junk. I don’t want to know what’s popular – I want to know what’s good!!!” His obnoxious tone showed that he wasn’t even joking!
The poor waitress put her tail between her legs and walked away, sending someone else over to the table, and we immediately nixed what may have been a lucrative business arrangement. Life is just too short to deal with a-holes, and this guy clearly failed the test.
Unfortunately in the practice of dentistry it is our duty to treat just about everyone, a-holes included (as long as they pay!). And that is a good thing. It’s not up to us to judge and classify, just to do our best to make our patients healthy and hopefully happy. And we know that being in the dental office is stressful for many people and we don’t get to see them at their best.
Just remember, the nastiest people often need the most loving. Treat them accordingly and you will be surprised how some people can have a personality transfusion – even those who fail the a-hole test.