So, there we are. In the Self-Help book category on Amazon there's a great little tome called How to be an Asshole.
Yes, go on, then...get the jokes out of the way now. I can hear you all saying I don't need any help in being an asshole; I'm managing quite well on my own.
But all is not quite what it seems.
To cast some light on the matter I had a chat with the author, Carl Mills.
I actually had a customer say snidely, “Well, if you wanted a job where you didn’t take out trash, you should’ve finished college.” This was unprovoked, as we weren’t even conversing before he said that, but we also didn’t stop there either. I walked right up to him and said, “I did finish college. Maybe you don’t know everything, huh doc?” Assholes are not a rare occurrence, they’re the majority, especially in a rich town like Golden where almost everybody lives on a hill and thinks they’re extra-special. I had two choices: Go on a kill-crazy rampage for the good of society, or find a more constructive outlet. This was that outlet.
I chose the format I did because I’ve read a manners book or two growing up, and they’re either absolutely hilarious, or god-awful holier-than-thou gobshite. To me, it’s all about making them laugh. If it’s funny, they’re too busy laughing to be bored, and maybe they’ll learn something too while they’re laughing. It worked wonderfully for South Park.
Since I knew that HTBAA couldn’t possibly cover every base of human imagination, I wanted to throw in a catch-all, and that’s where the ending came from. The last two pages are reserved for the Reader themselves to write whatever it is that bothers them personally in their own lives. If they gift a version with a completed ending, the book becomes the world’s longest greeting card that says, “I notice you, and I hope you laugh, but also, cut this specific crap out! It’s beyond annoying, so much so that you’re in a book now!”
Finally, I picked the title because of an episode from Leverage. One of the characters says, “What part of, “Wrote the book,” did you not comprehend?” I can now say I literally wrote the book on how to be an asshole for the rest of my life, followed by that hilarious line. Not exactly a rich-man’s goal, but it is perfect for a lunatic author. Nobody else for the rest of history is allowed to say that with the same gravitas, and that just makes me laugh.
The larger goal: That humanity learns from the laughs enough to improve itself before the workers riot. I can only imagine how many service industry employees would murder their customers if given the chance.
It took about three years to write and put together. It started out more as just a joke piece for me to relieve the pressure built up after work, but then it started being genuinely funny. I moved onto other areas like the Smoking Circle section, and figured there are things that everybody should know, but nobody is actually out there distributing pamphlets. That just evolved into whatever else I could think that might make us nicer, or at the very least, more bearable, as a people.
I’m always considering sequel ideas, just because they make me laugh. From a simply expanded version, to an international version where each chapter is different host-countries with guest-writers, to even a Presidential edition “honoring” the Commander in Chief. It just depends if I can find an idea that sticks, and is practical. The Trump edition would probably outweigh a dictionary, and I frankly have no idea what I would have to charge for that.
I guess it’s the philosophical equivalent of having a comic give you a decency lesson. I suppose you could even use the book like an Anarchist Cookbook, and improve your skills at being a blight upon the species without learning a thing.