Monday, March 10, 2008

Everyday Kindness: Happy News and Unclaimed Baggage


Well – it’s Everyday Kindness Sunday on Monday. Work and storms and power outages took time away from me, not to mention losing an hour of sleep. But hell – “time is only linear for referees and engineers” says Craig Ferguson. If you want a great read get his book – “Between the Bridge and the River”.

So:

Mia is doing so much better. The meds are working; her sneezing turned to a little wheezing and now I can actually hear her purr, and her eyes are getting clearer every day. She met Siren twice, through a screen door, and it was mostly staring and being a big bully on his part and lots of hissing and growling on her part – whichever cat is hissing is the one who is feeling vulnerable so that’s going to need some work. And she is eating!! Woo-Hoo! Fatter and stronger = the better to deal with Siren.

Remember “walking woman” and “creepy guy walking his dogs”? She’s the lovely lady who is struggling to get healthier by walking around the neighborhood each evening and he’s the gentleman who really isn’t so creepy once you stop and talk to him/his dogs. He used to make “walking woman” nervous and she avoided him, then she decided to say Hi and befriend the dogs.

Well! – Last night I stopped at the diner on my way home from giant-ass retail store job and … as I waited for my tuna melt to go … what do I see? …

“Walking woman” and “creepy guy” at a booth, having coffee and pie, and laughing up a storm! I know! Budding romance perhaps? Certainly a lovely friendship. She looked positively radiant and he looked 10 years younger. I hid behind the cake display (fitting) – I really didn’t want to interrupt what looked like a delicious moment.

Bobbie turned me on to this interesting and worthwhile site. Please take a moment to check it out.
Every Human Has Rights

Originally this next saga was going to be Monday’s post. It was to be titled “I Think I Did it for Myself”. I would love to know what everyone/anyone thinks.

I started back to work at my sometimes second job – I’m a sales associate for a pretty good quality albeit snooty brand in a very large retail store. I originally took the job thinking I could work enough hours to make a bit of extra money and qualify for health insurance – my self-employed insurance premiums have reached $800 a month for not so good coverage. In November, on Black Friday (poetic ain’t it), I ended up in the ER being told stuff like “cat scratch fever”, “blood clot that goes to your heart and kills you” and my favorite – “didn’t this look dangerous to you!”

Siren had bitten me, as he has a million times before, a few days earlier. I cleaned the bite site and went about my merry way. How this turned into my leg becoming purple and swelling to elephant like proportions no one can explain to me. I think I may be allergic to the filthy, unnatural fibers of the store’s carpeting. I was treated for a severe systemic infection and took some medical leave from the store. The infection kept coming back, the leg kept swelling back up and I was catapulted into a miserable cycle of doctors and tests. To keep my wits sharp the insurance ass-hats (homage to REH and his union guy) put me through daily phone calls and tons of chain letters all designed to make me want to die as soon as I pay the next premium. It seems I don’t get it – I’m supposed to pay for health insurance but I am not supposed to use health insurance.

I have Scoliosis
– I almost wrote suffer from scoliosis but that’s a momentary feeling. All through my childhood and early teens I took the curve of my back, the one hip higher than the other and the frequent pain as just one more sign that I was different – freakishly different. Children can be incredibly cruel and I heard all the hunchback jokes their lovely little minds could invent.

When I was 17 I discovered that my problem could have easily been corrected had my parents been parents and not the insane wolves I had come to accept. At 17 the surgery would be daunting and most likely not successful. I found a physical therapist who taught me exercises that helped strengthen and lengthen and I coped. Coping has always been my thing. I cope real good until I don’t. Then I am a spectacular pile of old issues, unclaimed baggage – fueled by rage and grief and trauma. Yes – I have a therapist.

Fast forward to last Monday at the big-ass retail store. I’m cleaning up the clearance shoe aisle when I hear – “Oh and that one is back, what was wrong with her?” – I recognize the voice as the troll who works the register at the adjoining department. I can’t see her, she can’t see me and I have no idea who she’s talking to. I tell myself not to be paranoid. “… and she’s working limited shifts, nice!” – “wish I could get special treatment” – “have you seen that hump on her back, and the way she walks” – “by the end of the day she looks like hell” – “if you’re that disabled don’t get a job like this” – “just expects special treatment” – and on and on and on.

I stopped hearing at some point. My face became hot (and it wasn’t a hot flash), my head was spinning and all I could hear was static noise. Thankfully a customer spoke to me and I re-entered current space and time. Hearing my voice made the troll shut up.

I spent the rest of that day going back and forth – capable, calm adult to heartbroken, confused child. The most disconcerting emotion was the rage just waiting to boil over. Vivid images of picking up the troll (she’s about 4’9”) and launching her ugly gray haired head through the plate glass door danced in my mind.

In the break room I apparently looked so miserable that a co-worker asked what had happened. I told her and was immediately sorry I had. “We’re going to HR right now” – “OK, then we’ll tell ** (my manager)” – “she’s a horrible person and someone needs to get rid of her”.

And there it was – I was the top item on someone else’s agenda. Again. Still. It was never about me, it was always how I could fix it for someone else. The eldest child who spent her entire childhood trying to be worthy and to care for her brothers and sister came back. She collided full on with the angry teen who almost killed the abusive father and I could barely breathe.

Isn’t therapy designed to get rid of this crap? Yes – I know - there is work to be done.

This insanity spilled into the next shift. Co-worker one, in her all about her concern, told two people and they told two people … When I arrived at my department the troll looked like she wanted to disappear into the carpet. “Hostile workplace” – “harassment” – “fair treatment of the disabled” intermingled with “we’ll finally get that bitch” – “my daughter wants her job” – “I’ve always hated her”.

HR gets wind of the hoopla. Funny – when you actually go to HR and openly, clearly ask for something they never react. Apparently the pathetic rumor mill is the way to get things done. They ask me what happened. They tell me they’re there for me. I sit in the office and overhear “corporate will love this” – “…hire someone at half the rate” – “one less senior”.

Look at how important I am in the larger scheme of things! Oh My – the power I posses.

I tap on the door and ask them why I’m still here. Nothing happened, I don’t know what the hell is going on and I have no issues – no agenda – put the forms away, set the hot line phone down. The confused, disappointed looks on their faces gave me my first good laugh in days.

The troll was in my direct line of vision all the long walk back to my department. As I got closer the fear on her face was so clear it was sad. All the wind out of her sails, all the concern about losing the job she’s had for 20 years was etched there and almost made the cruel bitch human. My intention was to just pass her by. The store’s collective attention span is that of a gnat and this would all soon be replaced by which department manager is screwing which girl in receiving.

“I guess you feel good now that I’m getting fired”.

Calm, kind adult and rage crazed teen join hands. “No, you’re not getting fired. I didn’t say a god damned thing to them, they care less about me than you do”. “But …, What …, Oh …” sputters the troll. “Wow you’re finally speechless” says combination me. “Maybe you’ll think twice next time, you’re a very hurtful person, you’re a fucking bitch”. “I didn’t mean anything, I just get to talking and …” - “I suppose you’ll use this against me forever now” – the troll looked so small and old.

“No”, says calm kind adult “it’s done, you have your own shit to live with”.

Rage filled teen did need the last word and this I’ll have to work on. “Fuck with me again and I’ll break you in two and stuff you in the compactor” says rage filled teen, in all her spectacular inability to heal.

A friend who really knows me thinks I did the right thing. My co-workers think I’m nuts.

I think they’re all right.

Be Kind Out There.

35 comments:

Mahala said...

Holy potatoes! Do you have small feet? If so, you're welcome to borrow my size 10.5 double wide to shove up her keister.

Raven said...

You are awesome! What else is there to say? This is so intense and so beautifully written and full of so many messages on so many subjects. Yikes. My brain being the freaky creature that it is and knowing that you are now safe from the troll, is busy thinking that as the most hated woman in the store, she was probably just trying to shift her place - and instead made herself more hated. Maybe she's had to live with midget jokes her whole life. I can't help it. I want everybody to love everybody. You acted with such grace in this situation. I am truly awed by you on so many levels.

You have brought up so much feeling with this piece that I want to cry and laugh and keep talking (typing) but I'm going to stop myself because I don't think I'm making sense. I will just repeat the "you are awesome." It seems to be the dominant thought.

I loved the love story too. A friend of mine is getting married this month for the first time at the age of 65. How cool is that?

Jay said...

I have scoliosis too. Just barely inside the "normal" range, but since I've injured my back a couple of times it causes problems from time to time. I try to ignore the "it could have been fixed when I was a kid if anyone had cared" thing.

You did the right thing by not letting them fire the Troll. You showed that you are the better person.

Raven said...

dianne - I wrote a haiku (eek!) for you as part of today's One Single Impression thingy, the subject of which was kindness... hope you like it.

Shelly said...

The love story made me all warm and fuzzy.
The troll made me crazy defensive for you, I wanted to take her down.
When you set her straight and told her you would stuff her in the compactor I was laughing out loud. You rock.
Last week in a conversation with my husband I said "I'm not scared of anybody...well...except Cujo" (the nickname for an evil woman I worked with 20 years ago)...he gave me a strange look, I said "hey, she was wacko and I'm still not over it". It seems like every job has an evil troll, how we deal with them is up to us. Sometimes the compactor is the only solution, why the heck didn't I think of that.

Minnesotablue said...

What a moving story. You did the absolutely right thing, showing that you are indeed the better person. My hat's off to you!

Dianne said...

Mahala - I'm a size 10 kick ass myself! But if you ever come NE to visit you can wipe the floor with her and then we'll go shopping on my employee discount.

Raven - I'm glad (I think) that all the mixed emotions came through. It was intense to write but then it all felt OK. You always make sense Raven and you're pretty awesome yourself. I shall visit the haiku in a moment.

Dianne said...

Jay - the "it could have been fixed ... if anybody cared thing" is hard to ignore at times, isn't it? For me it defined the recurring theme of not being worth being cared for which of course can really effect how you deal. I'm guessing your sense of humor has been a big part of being OK cause you are so freaking funny yet sweet at the same time. I'll hug ya til I make your back hurt ;)

Dianne said...

shelly - I may re-name the troll "cujo troll" - and I'm so glad you laughed, I was hoping people would. I'm anxious to run in to "walking woman". I want all the dish :)

minnesotablue - thank you. Once it became about her age, her pay rate, other people's issues with her it became wrong. And in an odd way she became the victim. A troll yes but a victim as well.

CG said...

What a huge range of emotions I went through reading this. I admire the way you handled it...both as rage-filled teen and calm adult. The troll is pathetic. I should feel sorry for the bitch and I'm working on that...
Good news about the two new friends!!

kenju said...

You did exactly the right thing! Bravo!

Odat said...

a) I'm so glad Mia is doing better!
b) that's terrific about the walking woman and creepy guy!!!
c) Oh you did the right thing all right! Tell me where she works and when and I'll come and be the most bitchiest customer she's ever dealt with!!! ;-)
Hang in there! Hugssssssss.
and Peace.

oh....I checked out Paolo Nutini!!!
I love him! Thanks!

heidianne jackson said...

nice spot you have here. i found you somehow. i'll be back.

oh, you did the right thing in every instance mentioned. cheers!

Sleepypete said...

Good to hear Mia's improving :-) We had the hissing/glaring with a cat and dog ages ago. The new Cat was the one in the middle of the room staring at the old Dog who was hiding under the sofa.

That crazieteenager just loves to escape from the leash we keep it under doesn't it :-) Looks like you managed to release that anger in just the right way though - by letting people know you were angry through words instead of by making bruises.

You could have insisted that they take her job away, which would have given some short term satisfaction but in a nasty way. But you'll have far more lasting satisfaction (in a good way) seeing Cujo Troll in a month's time and knowing that you're the better person.

Akelamalu said...

Every workplace has a troll, in my case it's the boss! Well done you.

bobbie said...

Glad about Mia and Walking Woman and Creepy Guy.

As to your store associate - I am in complete agreement with Raven. You made me cry and then laugh. People like that leave me sputtering with rage. They are just beyond comprehension. you, my dear, are a heroine on a number of levels. Now I understand the compassion you feel for others.

Dianne said...

CG - that wide range of emotions thing seems to be going around! ;)
and it IS wonderful news about the (I hope) new couple. thanks cg

kenju - thank you :)

Odat - I love when you get bitchy - well actually I've never seen you bitchy but this is a cool start!
I'm thrilled that you enjoy Paolo - he's a favorite of mine.


heidianne - welcome. I often lose track of how I discover folks. Our names are similar and hihidi was the nickname my niece had for me. fun! I checked out your place and will come back - really interesting stuff there.

Dianne said...

sleepypete - I am thrilled about Mia and the new couple - took the edge of an otherwise crappy couple of days. I love that Cujo Troll is catching on! thanks!

akelamalu - it's awful when the troll is in a position of power.

bobbie - "Now I understand the compassion you feel for others."
thanks so much bobbie. I was so angry for so much of my life, perhaps that is where cujo troll comes from although I never hurt others. but the anger wears away at you so I've been working on that.

lisa said...

Oh, Dianne, as wonderfully written as it was, that story made me so angry! I don't know how you held your cool. Bravo, girlfriend! That bitch was, of course, tearing you down to try to make herself feel worthy. Not that that helps but know that she must feel like a terrible person. And not just about what she did to you, but all the time. People like that are emotionally stunted--they've never really developed past that "mean girl" high school mentality. I worked with an entire office full of them for a short time in a hospital billing department. As soon as a co-worker would leave the room, the rest of them would tear her apart--it didn't even matter who it was. It was horrible. I think I lasted two long months. . .

You handled the entire situation beautifully. :-)

Glad to hear Mia is improving! And what a great story about the two you spotted in the diner. "Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match. . ." Do I see a new career on the horizon? LOL!

Michelle O'Neil said...

Wow!

To all of it!

Jo said...

That was breathtaking...like being on a rollercoaster. I want to hug you then have drinks. And pie. If you don't like pie, I'll eat yours :)

I love your grit, your humanity. Your compassion & dignity move me especially b/c you have some snarly emotions mixed in--that kind of grace is so difficult.

That woman's cruelty, her arrogance, ignorance--gah, it sickens me. So glad to hear Mia's doing better...and what a sweet story about the couple :)

Dianne said...

lisa - I'd love to be a (paid) matchmaker and I would dress like Barbra Streisand in Hello Dolly! Love ya Lisa

michelle - I feel I know more about you now that I read your blog regularly so - a wow from you is like an entire passage to me, thank you.

jo - another person whose blog takes MY breath away, and your comments to our mutual blog friends are always as good as your own entries - I'd love to hug and drink and have pie - and I think we should take Jay with us.

jt said...

It's well past my turn to give you a GIANT, CRUSHING BEAR HUG.

I love your storytelling and how you weave the humor and idealism into even the most enraging moments.

I'm resolved to comment more because I *am* reading and I love your blog...and you're always so kind to comment.

More big hugs. (And I suspect you know how to give GOOD hugs too!) :-)

Cherie said...

1. Glad Mia is settling in. Got to get the hissing stage out of her system. Just wait until she's up to her fighting weight. ;)

2. So neat about Walking Woman and Creepy Guy. Gives me hope. And I'm always happy when I see that others are happy ... except, of course, for when I am insanely jealous. LOL But not today. Today, I'm thrilled for them. :D

3. I am so sorry that the troll is ... well ... a troll. I'm glad that it "worked out" in the end. But did you really say that to her? I would never be able to do that. You go girl! :) I would send the same message, but in my own wonderfully passive aggressive way. lol

Did this happen today or last week? Either way ... just remember ... Hump Day is coming! lol :)

xxoo

Kim said...

I'm impressed with how you handled that situation...good for you! I'm glad the rage-filled teenager was able to get a word in there...glad the responsible adult let her sneak out for a second! Good for you!

SnoopMurph said...

Wow-I read this earlier this morning and just so impressed in your choices. I wonder how people survive spewing negativity all day long. Thank you for possibly making someone stop and think before they talk.

P/S Glad Mia is doing better. Connor and I were looking at Siren again today-I kept scrolling up and down to make Siren disappear and reappear for today's entertainment.

Michael Manning said...

Hi Dianne: What comes through in this story is how hard you work, how much you've overcome, and how much compassion you have. I've often said this, but we live in a different world, Dianne. But there have been many changes for the better and many other societal areas for improvement. You strike me as a beacon of hope for people who take a stand for what is right.

I love the names of your cats. I was bitten by our former apartment roving cat I named "Mister Cat" but it didn't break my skin. I wish I understood what drives cats to do this. Mia is a sweet name! Be well!!!

Dianne said...

jt - I DO give good hugs. I'm a hugger from way back ;)
don't worry about commenting - I know you're there.

cherie - yes, I really did say that - shy on the inside, crazed on the outside! "walking woman" and "creepy guy" are a hopeful sight, I'd be a bit jealous too if it weren't for the fact that she's so sweet and he looked happy for the first time in all the years I've known him.

Dianne said...

hey kim! - thanks for the visit. I have to get back to your blog and read the rest of the bios. Siren says hi to Sophie, something tells me they'd get along just fine.

snoopmurph - Siren loves to play peek-a-boo - he pokes his head around the door and peeks down the hall waiting for me to do the same, then he charges up and down the hall. We can repeat this many, many times. and thanks snoop!

Dianne said...

michael - we do live in a different world, just wish more people would join us. thanks Michael for the kind words.
Many cats bites out of what's called "fearful agression" - they'll get you before you get them. With Siren it used to be all the time, now it's when a sudden sound or movement startles him - it triggers a past intuition of danger.
I'm pretty sure his bite didn't make me sick - I think I should have covered the wound, didn't realize how deep it was. I really do think the toxic elements of the store caused the infection.

Akelamalu said...

It is but I give it her back twofold!

pink dogwood said...

I am sorry you had to go through this, sorry that there are people like her.

A big hug to you :)

tt said...

Holy shit!! How did I miss this one?? Bravo sister! Well done. i wish i could bitch that well and still make it humerous. You did gt me laughing...as always...
The part where you wrote" I cope real good until I don't. Then I am a spectacular pile of old issues,unclaimed baggage...." hit me between the eyes. Well put. That is me too!!! I wonder if more of 'our' generation feels the same? I'm sure it transends generations though.
I love it when people 'give it back'. She's probably one of those miserable old women who aren't happy untill they've caused hate and discontent all around them. Pitiful old biotch!
Yay for you....

Dianne said...

good for you akelamalu

thank you pink dogwood, hugs are always good

tt - I think most of us carry something (or a lot) around. It becomes a matter of how you manage it. The further away I get from this whole incident the more I'm glad I did what I did - thanks for the support :)

dollface design said...

hey dianne,
first, i just want to say that i'm sorry you had to endure the pathetic, displaced anger, of such a cruel, thoughtless person, who clearly is filled with such misery, and utter despair that she feels the need to completely attempt to shred another person's ego and well-being. unfortunately, there are so many people like this and sometimes it's hard to "be the bigger person". i have so much admiration and respect for the way you handled this situation...i think you did the right thing too. when it all comes down to it, would having that trollish bitch fired really have erased the hurt that she inflicted on you? probably not...i love the way that you write, it's so smart and funny and both painfully and refreshingly REAL. i love how you describe the various parts of your psyche and how they merge together, sometimes suppressed, sometimes evident. i think that's how it is for everybody. you seriously dazzle me with your writing, i love reading your posts, they're truly amazing, inspiring, and thought provoking, it really resonates with me. and my absolute FAVORITE part of this post is how you had to have the last word and told her not to fuck with you again or you'd toss her in the compactor!!!! :D that is EXACTLY something i would have said and the perfect way to end that very ugly situation, with that very ugly, diminutive, gnarly old troll. and your closing words "be kind out there" were extra awesome because they followed you "fuck with me again" comment....truly brilliant!
xoxo
layla