Each of us has a choice to make, every time we're confronted by inappropriate behavior -- could be from someone familiar, or from someone encountered for the first time. It's often in the latter case that the decision is more crucial, because there is usually scant context against which to make it.
Generally the scenario is pretty simple: someone acts in a way that irritates you. A stupid lane change, a harsh comment in a blog post or conversation. Your choices are: that person is a dick, or there is another explanation. It's amazing how fast the decision is made; sometimes the dick choice is so reflexive that we don't realize it (often because the other explanation is not immediately apparent), which is why it's so important to remember that it IS a conscious choice.
Earlier tonight, some friends and I played golf after work. There's still enough light to get 9 in if you don't start too late and keep up a good pace. I hit an unplayable shot off the first tee and decided to hit another, which went three feet. Teed it up again. Fairway. And off our foursome went. We were on the heels of the group in front of us the entire time, but were playing casually, so took mulligans here and there. On the final tee, we were waiting for the group ahead of us to sink their putts when the foursome behind us approached the green we just left. A few minutes later, they finished the hole and approached us as we finished teeing off.
One said, "How many shots are you guys taking?"
A couple of us laughed, and I said, "Well as few as possible, isn't that the goal?"
Another said, to me, "I saw this dude take three shots off the first tee."
I understood their point now. I agreed that I did.
The first one said, "You don't take three tee shots when you're starting at 6:30."
I told them to have a nice round.
These guys made the dick choice. It's getting dark and they've seen us taking extra shots. Their choice is: we are dicks, or there is another explanation. In this case, the explanation was that it didn't matter how many shots we were taking. We were on the heels of the group ahead throughout the round. We couldn't have been moving faster.
The reason I need a reminder is because it wasn't until I was driving home that I realized I had made the dick choice about them.