Every egocentrist feels that the cosmos are out to get him or her. There’s always some grand plan by “The Gods” to screw up whatever it is that person has going on. And while I don’t believe myself to be terribly egocentric, nor do I feel that my plans have been thwarted at every turn, the older I get, the more I realize how unfair the world really is.
Of course I’ll explain.
I have a temper. Most people don’t see it, but when I was 14, I put my fist through a door in our house and told my dad I fell down the stairs. I’m not sure he bought it…in fact, knowing how wise I am now about kids, I KNOW he didn’t buy it. But all my life I’ve struggled with letting things go. I’m very competitive and I think the fact that for many years I struggled to make a name for myself in the corporate world, without a college degree, caused me to square off against other people’s stupidity–especially when I felt they were supposedly “smarter” than me.
I was penalized for that, a lot.
My last two months of the military, while working swing shift one evening, I told my duty officer that I was NOT going to do something to the network that he told me to do. It was a ridiculous order, born out of his lack of understanding of the system, and also, he didn’t know a T1 from his ass. I, on the other hand, had taught myself the ins and outs of this new technology and knew that doing what he was ordering me to do, would shut down a major comm line between the Pentagon and one of our satellite broadcasting stations. I argued with him in front of everyone else.
I lost. My commanding officer called me into his office and said (I have a very good memory for conversations): “Chris, I know you did what you felt was right, but regardless of whether it was right or wrong, you can’t just piss on the chain of command. It’s there for a reason.”
He was a cool dude and after hinting that he too thought my duty office was an idiot, sent me on home. I think it helped that I only had two months of service left, but still. There were several such instances while I was in the military, but I never had anything permanent on my record and I still received a Meritorious Service Medal when I separated (nyah, nyah, nyah nyah nyah!)
My first job out of the military was with a medium-sized global telecom company. I was the youngest guy on the team, made up primarily of guys who were perfectly happy working graveyard shift into their retirement. They were also lazy, which pissed me off. I remember another meeting with my boss:
“Chris, you have got to learn to control your temper. You’d be managing a shift already if you didn’t piss off your teammates so badly.”
The word “piss” seems to come up frequently in my life.
I say all this to illustrate that I have been penalized time and again for being outspoken. Sure, I’m not the most politically correct guy on the block. I know this. Despite being a professional wordsmith, when it comes time to suck up in an e-mail, I just can’t find the words. Recognizing my shortcoming in this area, nowadays I’ll just take the crap thrown at me, rather than poke back at the a-hole who threw it in the first place. So I’ve learned. I’ve learned that I’m either not good looking enough, or rich enough or whatever enough to get away with being a smartass. And so I put my head down, and I do what I’m supposed to do and I try not to rock the boat (too much).
But there are other people who seem to be rewarded for such behavior. For instance, if you’re…oh..say…a woman, then it’s OK to be as rude as you want to other people. “Oh, it’s just their personality.”
If I have to play nice, they should too.
I still have a temper…oh yes I do. But I’ve learned to refocus that anger (usually) in other directions (the Internet has helped). That doesn’t stop me from soliloquizing in my head these long drawn out scenarios where I excoriate the other person in front of their peers. It helps though, that I have a family.
I think rudeness and anger are the purview of those who don’t have others relying on them.
But can someone explain to me why doctors say that stress, which raises your blood pressure, is so bad for you; yet, exercise, which also raises your blood pressure, is said to prolong your life? Aren’t they the same function really?