Revenge is Like Chowder, Make Sure You Get the Right Kind

And other answers to questions you didn’t ask.

Image: Timothy Tsui via Flickr

“Someone at work has done me wrong. What’s the best way to get revenge?” —Avenging Avery

Work is the worst! At our workplace we do the lousiest things for the smallest of reasons. People are always ratting you out. At one place I worked there were millions of cans of Progresso New England Clam Chowder. This, it seemed to me, was the best perk of anyplace I ever worked, employee discounts included. If they were cans of Manhattan Clam Chowder, I would have left them alone. Manhattan Clam Chowder is my Kryptonite. It shouldn’t even be a thing, New Yorkers are just too stubborn to admit that New Englanders have beaten them at anything. But in the clam chowder department it’s not even close. New England Clam Chowder is creamy, warm and delightful. Manhattan Clam Chowder is clams in tomato soup.

So like 3 times a week, I made Clam Chowder for myself. I was in Chowder Heaven. Until, predictably, someone ratted me out. It wasn’t like it was their chowder either. Supposedly the crazy old man we all worked for had gone through a ‘White Food Phase.’ I got one of those ‘See Me’ notes and the guy went wild on me eating his chowder. He had a pretty good way of making me feel like a complete turd even on a good day. The Free Chowder Stage of my life had come to a halt. I was a chowder thief. For years, I didn’t eat chowder. Most of the time I buy Chunky Chowder now. Even seeing those blue cans of Progresso Chowder brings up a feeling of dread in my gullet. And I got them for years for free, I don’t feel like paying $2.50 a can or whatever. I’m more of a Chicken Soup guy now, anyway. And that is how I got revenge on Progresso New England Clam Chowder.

Revenge, apparently, doesn’t even make you feel better. I mean, short-term, yes. It feels amazing. But long-term your life is still empty and meaningless. And soon you will be replaced by robots. Robots are probably sticking it to your significant other right now, while you’re reading this. How will you get revenge on them? If you really added up all the people who have done lousy things to you, it would be a lot of people. Are you going to dedicate your life to getting everyone who has gotten you? Are you going to be the next Gone Girl? There was probably a better way to deal with Ben Affleck cheating on you, Gone Girl. You could probably just have dated someone else instead of faking years of journal entries and saving your period blood in the freezer. That seems like a lot of work.

So, I guess my advice would be that to get revenge on someone it really needs to be worth it. I swear revenge on people all the time, but I have no follow-through. I forget about them eventually, and focus on the things that matter. Tacos. I am obsessed with tacos. They are crunchy and good. I may, in the heat of the moment, commit to avenging myself of someone who has done me wrong. And there are plenty of those. I got one of those faces. The kind you just want to destroy.

There was this guy at work. He slithered his way into being my boss and then, day by day, worked to get me fired. He pretended to be my friend, but I could tell he was a snake. He eventually did get me fired. It was at first upsetting. I was kind of crappy at my job, but I don’t know that I deserved to be fired. I ate turkey sandwiches and laid in bed most days. I collected unemployment. Eventually I got a job I liked better, at a bookstore. Every once in a while I’d email this guy when his team won the World Series. Apparently he’d blamed me for everything that had ever gone wrong in our department for a year or two, to the point where, in a meeting, the big Chowder boss said “Jim Behrle hasn’t worked here for years! Will the damage Jim Behrle has done to this company ever be over?” I was elsewhere, happy, shelving books. And this guy was miserable at my old job, toiling away for a madman. Who needed revenge?

So, I guess get revenge if you can totally get away with it and it will totally help you become the person you want to be. Everyone will eventually die and their lives will look remarkably sad in an obituary. Even the funnest obituary always seems rather flimsy and sad. When people’s lives are reduced to words it is humbling. I’m glad that dude got me fired. I wouldn’t be here now, writing this to you, if he hadn’t. I’d probably be somewhere plotting revenge. While being chased by a robot and a drone. When all I really wanted was a little free chowder. Get the right kind of revenge. The warm, creamy and delicious kind. Not the kind with tomatoes.


Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City, NJ and is not plotting his revenge on you.