Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Nice Guys Get Paid Less

According to a study in the possibly-prestigious Journal of Economic Psychology, nice people make less money at work than... well, the word they used on the news was "jerks," but a more appropriate term might be "egomaniacal sadistic obnoxious assholes who belong in hell so they don't inflict it on the rest of us." The study featured in the "Question of the Day" on CNN's American Morning, the little segment where the nation's idiots, cynics, and wannabe comedians email in their thoughts on the events of the day. Most of the folks who wrote in agreed with the study, citing examples in business such as Ken Lay and Martha Stewart, and in government such as that John Bolton evil-Muppet guy who's up to be our U.N. ambassador. I couldn't help but wonder whether these folks are underpaid because they'd rather sit at home writing into a morning news show than muster up some ambition and get to work early so they can bug their co-workers.

One woman they interviewed on the street said it's all cool because "karma balances everything out in the end." Yes, let's all get paid out in chi — gas is up to two bucks a gallon, but what is that in karma? Three Hail Marys and an act of compassion, or four Hail Marys Canadian?

Maybe this issue is hitting kind of close to home because I try my damnedest to be a nice guy, much as that's totally against my nature. I'd rather be passive-aggressive in the office, but I'm too timid. It's easier to appease the boss and keep my job than give in to my nature and hunt for a new one. But still, it seems like being nice doesn't really get you up the corporate ladder any more than being apathetic does. I was always nice at Sparknotes, but that just resulted in my getting crappier and crappier assignments, which I did with a forced smile on my face. And I was always passive-aggressive at the theatre, and they just left me alone. The only reasonably nice thing I ever did there — I complemented a co-worker in my blog by calling her "a decent human being" — got me fired.

I truly wish I could bring myself to be a complete bastard, at least when I wanted to be one. Not because they make more money, which they use to buy complete-bastard SUVs, in which they cut you off in traffic while complaining about the price of gas like a complete bastard. Just because if I'm going to be miserable in the office rat race, I might as well deserve it. Like with this project I'm working on for Ken right now, the one that's pretty much going to hell because the guy working on it before me left it a total wreck. I'd rather be cleaning up my own messes than cleaning up someone else's, especially if that someone else is sleeping better than I am.

Seriously, doesn't John Bolton (picture at right) look like an evil Muppet? But then again, pretty much everybody in the Bush administration looks like an evil Muppet. Cheney is evil Skeeter. Condi is evil Animal. Karl Rove looks kind of like an evil Grover. I want to put in some sort of joke like, "Everybody except Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. She's hot in that easy plump chick sort of way." But she's not. A Google search for sexy "members of the bush administration" turns up on 524 hits. Searching for sexy endoscopy nets you more hits, meaning that people would rather have a colon exam than date a Bush cabinet member. But can you really blame them?