Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"MissUnderstood" or "When Realism Is Misconstrued, Bad Behavior Can Result"

My family tells me that I tend to be confrontational.  Is there something I'm missing?  I'm certain we rarely see ourselves as others see us, but confrontational?  Me?  Now, depending on your sources, "confrontational" can be as generic as "meeting face to face," or as unflattering as "facing or opposing boldly, defiantly or antagonistically."  I know I am not the benign, soft-spoken, meeting-face-to-face "Excuse me, Sir, but I believe the driveway your are parked across is mine.  Would you care to move or just allow me to walk three blocks?"  Likewise I am not the petulant, juvenile, defiant "What do you mean 12 items or less?  Six jars of herring don't count as separate items -- they're all the same item!  Besides, you are not the boss of me!"  Nor am I antagonistic.  I don't threaten to call HR, the police or my councilman; I don't write letters to the editor or call to unleashed a stream of obscenities on one of those silly 30-seconds-to-make-your-point hotlines.  I don't jump on the bandwagon of causes everytime I see someone who doesn't get their way, and I certainly don't make it a point to call local news stations each time I see a municipal car parked in front of the Hair Cuttery where the police chief's wife gets her hair done.
In most cases, in fact, I bite my lip as the cashier stops to review her schedule with the girl that is bagging my eggs beneath the six pounds of bananas and the two gallons of milk.  Many times I have waited patiently as the guy in front of me slept through the green arrow and then stays behind the line phonetically uncoding the words, "Left Turn Yield on Green [circle]."  When the solicitor from Bank of America fails to cease and desist after my second "No, thank you," I politely explain, "The only thing I want from Bank of America is to be removed from their call list; have a good day," before I hang up on him. 

Call it confrontational, but if I demurred each time someone approached me with an offer for new windows or a request for help in obtaining funds from a Nigerian bank account, not only would I get nothing accomplished, but I would fall for every sob story that comes down the pike.  You see, I'm a sucker for a cause.  I really do hate to see people in need.  The cashier?  If I could, I'd offer to work for her so she could go to her nephew's graduation.  And her friend, the bagger?  I'd bag my eggs myself.  I could buy the guy at the traffic light one of those sleep number beds that Lindsey Wagner endorses, and a copy of Hooked on Phonics.  The poor guy from B of A -- I'd have to get him a better job than telemarketer -- no one but a convicted felon should be forced to be a telemarketer.

My mother used to say "No good deed goes unpunished," her way of saying that sometimes it just doesn't pay.  From this I learned to weed out those things that will suck up too much of the parts of me I am not willing to invest.  In other words, I'm not committing to something that will cause me to unhappily, impossibly overextend myself in one way or another; I'm not opening the door to obligations I might be tempted to undertake, but not qualified to see to fruition.  Maybe I am a little blunt when it comes to my refusal; maybe I tend to cut people off at the knees before they've had their say.  Maybe I tend to dig in to avoid being sucked in.  I might be a little sarcastic from time to time, and possibly even a little cynical but, trust me -- It's only because I care. 

Quite frankly, I can't believe those who know me best would mistake my honesty and altruism for bold, defiant antagonism.  I definitely think we need to sit down and talk about this!       

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