In my line of work, I get to work with a lot of guys that are from lower socio-economic conditions than mine. I don’t say “lower class” because a good majority of these guys have a shit ton more class than many toothless, latte-drinking suburbanite corporate drones (men putatively in the same socio-economic class as mine) could ever hope to have. Most of them are pretty good guys; the salt of the earth types. Men who’ve made their living by getting dirt and grease under their fingernails, and who are damned proud of it (as they should be).
Many of them are not. These are the men that I refer to as “lower class,” because the term fits.
One of the things that I’ve been very interested to see is how much value many of the actual lower-class guys put into the term “respect.” They are all about respect, and they feel as though you should always respect them, by their definition of that term, at all times.
If you “disrespect” them, you risk being the recipient of a multitude of consequences, from passive-aggressive inattention to outright physical assault, depending on the user-defined degree of the offense.
One of the worst offenders in this that I’ve ever known was a man who possessed very little in the way of respectable qualities – he’d been reprimanded for coming to work drunk, had a foul disposition, was lazy and slow and disgruntled about having to work on a daily basis, and I suspect that he was a meth user (based on some pretty strong evidence that I have to that effect). The guy was lamentable at best, and a worthless piece of shit at worst, and he was absolutely adamant that I owed him respect.
When I’d reprimand him for being an hour late, he’d grumble and groan about how I was disrespecting him and would then proceed to ignore me for the rest of the day, unless it was to make snide comments that were just out of my earshot. It got bad enough in the three weeks that he was in my employ that I fired him. He was on the verge of physically assaulting me when I did, but thought twice about it and walked away, telling me he didn’t need the constant disrespect, anyway.
The worse the man, the more he expected respect, generally speaking, and so I’ve come to the conclusion that the reason that these men are so thin-skinned is because they know that they are worthless pieces of shit, and can’t take someone reminding them of that. So they create an artificial social construct where they can blame their own indolence and self-inflicted bad fortune on everyone else. “I didn’t get yelled at at work today because I was an hour late,” he’ll say to himself, “it was because my boss is a dick and he doesn’t respect me!”
It caused me to remember something that my Dad used to tell me, and it is a hard truth that all of us need to teach our children, and it goes a little something like this:
No one gives two hot shits about you, for simply being you, other than your immediate family and close friends. The only thing that anyone else cares about is what you can do for them.
If you want people to value you, try being valuable.
Provide something that makes it so other people will place a value on your presence. It can be anything from hard work, a good attitude, a sense of humor, or a technical skill that only you have, but it needs to be something. No one owes you respect – you earn respect. I’ve gotten to the point to where when people demand respect from me for having done nothing – a pat on the back for just showing up, or deference to the fact that they are just there – I find that I have very little use for them.
If you want to be respected, then be respectable.
Unemployed? If you want to be used, then be useful.
Learn a trade. Stop being so centered on the fact that the world owes you a living in the one thing that you want to do, because it doesn’t. No one gives a shit about what you want – they only care about what you can do for them. If the thing that you’re prepared to do for someone else isn’t in demand, and you can’t find a job doing it, then learn to do something else.