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How can you sleep at a time like this?

Wednesday was an average-to-below-average day for a variety of reasons, which has left me very pensive and wide awake.

It’s always a risk for me to talk about personal things that have frustrated me on Scatterthought, because I never want to be too specific about the issues, especially when they involve other people. So I write in a very circumspect manner, which invites concern and questions from my closest friends when they read the scatterthoughts.

I’m generally a very, very happy person who takes a fair amount of satisfaction from what I’ve accomplished and what I’m looking forward to. Not because I’m more intelligent or more talented or luckier than the next guy…simply because I’m good at adapting to the realities presented by life. As a result, I don’t like it when people are concerned about me, because I perceive it as a waste of their time and energy. With so many people in this world who aren’t nearly as well off as I am, I feel like the attention should be directed elsewhere.

It’s stupid. I know. You don’t have to tell me that it’s not a waste to be concerned for the people you care about. I should know…I do it all the time.

I suppose I’m somewhat hypocritical in this regard, because when it comes to those I love I’m nothing but concerned for their well-being. You could suggest that I think I’m better than them, so I can be concerned for them but not the other way around. But if you think that, you don’t know me very well. I’m just better at giving concern than receiving it. Heck, you can globalize that and just say that I’m better at being generous than receiving generosity. I like picking up cheques when we go out for dinner, but I’m uncomfortable when others do it for me. And I like giving gifts to people, but get a little awkward when receiving.

There are worse flaws to have.

But that’s a little off topic. As I was saying, it’s always risky to write on Scatterthought, because then I get the e-mails or phone calls or comments wondering if I’m okay and what’s bothering me. I don’t blame my friends for asking–they all know that I’m an open book, and if they ask me I’ll tell them exactly what’s on my mind. Even if I don’t want to be asked. I don’t like it when I ask questions and get uninformative answers, so I try not to do that to others.

Yes, I’m just one big contradiction.

The thing is, as I’ve said many times over the years, Scatterthought is both my long-term memory and my outlet. Whereas other people keep private journals or have password-protected areas that only certain people could see, I prefer to put it all out there. I’m not some sort of verbal exhibitionist…although that’d be a damn good title to put on my Battle of the Bards business cards…but thoughts are meaningless if you can’t share them with the world. So when I’m frustrated and need an outlet, I fire up the computer and type until I feel some sense of…capture, I guess. Not necessarily resolution or closure…I just want to take what’s in my head and put it into words.

At this point, you’ve either forgotten that this started out with something bothering me, or you’re wondering when I’ll get to the point. Once again, that just depends on how long you’ve known me.

My work day was rudely interrupted by a person from another company who called and decided to be very angry and upset with me. It caught me quite by surprise and I don’t feel like I deserved it. This was the largest contributor to my mediocre day.

In the many roles I’ve held over the years for a variety of groups, I’ve become very accutely aware of the need to be an ambassador for the organization. I believe it is every member’s responsibility to put the best face on the larger entity. As an employee of my firm, that means that I will never purposefully do something to hurt relations with another company. However, not everyone sees the world as I do. So when s/he called with the purpose of chewing me out, I sat there and took it. Yes, I could have yelled back, but that would not have helped the situation. It’s neither productive nor professional, in my opinion.

There are a number of readers out there who are poised to comment on this and tell me that I shouldn’t take crap from anyone. That it’s an issue of respect. That I needed to stand up for myself. To these people I say: that’s your way of dealing, not mine. So if you’re going to comment, please frame it as how you (the commentor) have previously acted in the same situation–not how I should handle the situation. I’m very comfortable with my way of dealing.

And here’s why.

What if I did deserve it? Ouch. Big red flag, there. No one ever deserves to be yelled at, you say? True, very true. And yet, there’s a whole lot of yelling going on in this world of ours. Perhaps no one deserves it, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Whether you like it or not, you have to be able to deal with it.

Like I said, I’m just good at adapting to the realities presented by life.

When someone’s attacking you on a personal level, then yes, you shouldn’t take it. That’s a self-respect issue. But in this case, the person was angry over a professional matter–not a personal one. And that’s an entirely different ball game. Even if she made it seem like a personal matter.

What if I had done something that understandably caused the anger displayed toward me? If so, yelling would just compound the error, and it would reflect poorly on my company. I prefer for us to be perceived as a firm of level-headed people who deal with the issues, not the emotions. Even if the other people aren’t capable of seeing things that way.

Even if I really, really wanted to tell him/er off.

Perhaps that would have been more satisfying for me, but it would have just made it more difficult to resolve the issue.

It was frustrating knowing I had to keep my emotions in check. It’s difficult to sit there and be yelled at–especially when you like flinging words around as much as I do. And this set the tone for the rest of my day.

Part of me thinks I should stop here–this scatterthought is pretty long, already–but there’s something else on my mind, and I won’t be able to sleep if I don’t at least give it a mention. I’ll be quick.

I’m tired of being single.

I’m always careful when I talk about this topic, because I don’t want it to sound like I need to be in a relationship. I get along just fine without a girlfriend.  But, as I wrote a few months ago, I miss feeling the connection. Being single is okay, but it’s more fun to share life with someone you love. That’s really all I have to say about it–the linked scatterthought pretty much captures how I feel about the subject. I’m just pointing out that it’s on my mind.

Russ

4 Comments

  1. I totally know what you mean by the whole yelling thing. At Sears, I had angry customers come in all the time with the sole purpose of tearing a strip off me. But I just had to keep in mind that these people were yelling because they were frustrated and needed an outlet. So as difficult as it was, I sat there, listened, and was sympathetic and understanding.
    And more often than not, the customer calmed down and would actually thank me for listening and appologize for yelling.

  2. Alright… So I’m normally lazy about comments, and I know you hate hearing people are concerned about you, but I figured I should toss this in, anyhow, to give another perspective.

    What you write on your web page doesn’t make people worry about you more or less. Those of us who are your friends (even at a distance) will probably worry about you more or less the same amount all the time. That’s what friends do. What usually happens is that we say to ourselves “I wonder how Russ is doing”, and, in this case, have the added option of wandering past your page, where we can satisfy our curiousity what’s going on. (It’s easier than buying a long distance phone card, and some of us are lazy!)

    When the news is good, we cheerfully think to ourselves that everything is fine, and our support isn’t needed at the moment. And yes, we go back to doing other things. When the news is bad, we deluge you with calls. After all, as friends, we reciprocate the concern and desire to go the extra mile for those we care about. (How many people have you don e that for?)

    So write good news and bad, and just know we’ll be reading both, and that we do want to be there for you on the bad days, and we know you don’t need us on the good ones. You’ve been there for me a few times when things went wrong, and honestly, I’d be happy to return the favour a few times.

    You might even consider it a measuring sick for your friends. The ones that never offer help and support might the ones you only hear about when they need to borrow your car.

    Ok. So the part above was in keeping with the generally rambling tone of your page, but let me summarize:

    Russ, we all care about you, whatever you write on your page, but because you have friends that care, we’re all going to write in every time we think we can do something to support you.

    Stop worrying that your friends are worrying and remember that you’d do the same thing in our place, and that’s what we’ll do for you too.

    Accept it, call it even, and it’s all good. We’re not going to stop.

  3. It sounds like you handled yourself with dignity and grace. I have a friend who says “all you can really be is gracious.” People will tear a strip off of you for everything they can grasp so why give them more fuel for their fire? I have a sponsor who I speak to on a weekly basis and who is constantly rude or unpleasant. It used to unnerve me when I heard his voice but now when I get off the phone I’m usually smiling because I believe in what I do and I get the distinct impression that he resents his job, and that’s really unfortunate for him.

  4. Interesting thing… This sort of situation can also be handled in manner similar to the discussion a while back about phone solicitors. Hang up the phone while you’re in mid-sentence (key point: don’t hang up when they’re talking). It looks like you got disconnected, but at the same time provides them an option to decide if they are done complaining and want to bother calling back.

    Another nice trick is to put the phone down for a few seconds to allow yourself cool-down time, in case you’re on the verge of shouting back. I’ve seen my co-worker use that one and it’s a life saver.

    I admit I’m curious if this person had reason to take issue with you personally (which I doubt), or if they really should have been talking to someone else. There’s nothing that sucks more than having to take the blame or listen to someone rave about someone else’s mistake!

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