The Difference Between Meeting 1 Jerk and Meeting 10 Jerks

Joe Eames
Joe Eames
Sep 12 · 2 min read

There’s a saying I heard once that I keep in mind most days:

If one day you meet a jerk, then you met a jerk. If one day you meet ten jerks, then YOU’RE the jerk.

As you think on that for a moment, let’s consider the exact opposite. There’s no better way I know to do that than to use the poem “Purple” by Alexis Rotella, which I’ll put here. Please take a minute to read it. I promise you won’t regret it.

In first grade
Mrs. Lohr said
my purple teepee
wasn’t realistic enough
that purple was no color
for a tent,
that purple was a color
for people who died,
that my drawing
wasn’t good enough to hang
with the others.

I walked back to my seat
counting the swish swish swishes
of my baggy corduroy trousers.
With a black crayon
nightfall came to my purple tent
in the middle of an afternoon.

In second grade
Mr. Barta said draw anything,
he didn’t care what.

I left my paper blank
and when he came around
to my desk
my heart beat like a tom tom.
He touched my head
with his big hand
and in a soft voice said
the snowfall
how clean
and white
and beautiful.

A poem about a child and a teacher can be particularly evocative, because of the imagery of the subject. But what about those you encounter that aren’t cute little kids, such as the grumpy service staff, the judgemental coworker, or the random person on the bus who causes an unconscious shudder from you? It is said that you can tell the character of a person by how they treat those who can do nothing for them.

Each of us, no matter how isolated or public, no matter our corner of the earth leaves a trail as we move through this life. What trail will you leave?

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Joe Eames

Written by

Joe Eames

Mormon, Christian, Father, CEO of, Organizer of @ngconf, @frameworksummit, React Conf, Front end developer, and Software Craftsmanship Evangelist.

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