It Where You Can Get It by
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
time, a long time ago, a man told me that I was sometimes "passive/aggressive."|
"Ah," I sighed, "somebody's been to the dentist, haven't they? Spent 25 minutes
flipping through a copy of 'Psychology for Idiots!' Reading can be real, real
fun! It makes the pitchers so much more innerestin', don't it?" As I spun smartly
on my heel and left the room I thought that I heard him say he was all itchy.
I don't know what that had to do with anything.
Well, I am I here to
tell you that sometimes, in this modern world and in these stressful times, a
person can get to feeling a little aggressive. Sometimes it is justified. Why,
I remember one time when I had a little run in with a low level bureaucrat who
thought she was the alpha and omega of her whole little world. I don't want to
get into too much detail, and I certainly don't want to make anybody mad, but
if you do not answer your phone, even though it is ringing during business hours,
and I leave a message, you should listen to it. That's what answering machines
are for. I mean, I know that they are real, real pretty, what with the little
flashing lights and all, but really they are recording devices to which you are
meant, eventually, to listen. For the purpose of an example, say that somebody
calls you and leaves a message on your machine saying that they are keeping little
Johnny home because he has a case of Whoopsy Tum-Tum. And then suppose that you
call that person sometime in the next day or two and tell them that little Johnny
will have to go to Saturday school because nobody called to get him an excused
absence. Suppose you insisted that rules were rules, the line had to be drawn
somewhere, there was zero tolerance, the policy was clearly detailed in the handbook.
The usual party line. Would you blame somebody for suggesting, and quite politely
too, what might be an alternative use for the answering machine. Since you didn't
like listening to it. Nothing too passive there, you might agree.
I don't like the way that kind of confrontation makes me feel about myself. If
I do something like suggest a new and novel use for someone's answering machine
I end up feeling weak and ashamed and sorry. And then add to all that the fact
that I have to listen to little Johnny complaining about having to go to Saturday
school anyway, and it is just no fun at all. That's why I would much rather swaddle
my aggression in a nice, fluffy cloak of passivity. It is easier on me in the
end. I can always fall back on, ". . . all I said was." I can, with little effort,
see myself as being misunderstood rather than low-down and foul tempered. It is
so much easier on my little ol' ego.
I might be a pretty unpleasant person
sometimes, but nobody can say that I am not honest. I am also very willing to
evolve. To try to do better. This sincere effort to be a better person, to control
my smart mouth, has an unhappy side-effect. There is no outlet for the stress
engendered aggression I often feel. Which, frankly, leaves me feeling antsy. Until
I have a whole new lease on life. Why? Because where I work the
cafeteria is on the lower level. The lower level is designated on the elevator
panel by "L." Somebody today asked me how to get to the cafeteria. I said, in
all innocence, "Just get on the elevator and go to 'L.'"
Tee. Tee. Tee-Hee.
Yup, get on that elevator and go straight to "L." All the way down to "L." How
do I get to the parking lot? Go right to "L." Where can I get some chewing gum
and a soda pop? You can just go to "L." Is there a pay phone around? You need
to go to "L."
I don't ever have to be passive aggressive again! In fact,
I can be super friendly and helpful and get all that crusty old aggression off
my conscience without ever hurting anybody's feelings again. No emotional aftermath
at all, either. In fact, I'm so tickled about this that I am thinking about giving
up my job and asking for a job at the information desk. Helpful, helpful me!