song du jour: Gypsy Rain, Arman Charmakian

mood: righteous (snif snif)

So, You Want to Stay in Business/Keep Your Job?

Back when I was in college, my car died a slow agonizing death, and I was relatively stranded when I had to work late in the studio after the trains stopped running. I borrowed a then boyfriend's second car. Somehow I ran over something and blew out a tire, which, because I'm fair, sometimes to the point of stupidity (said boyfriend's other car was a newish Porche 911), I dutifully took the car to the Mazda repair place he preferred.

I don't remember the ins and outs of what they did wrong, Something about never getting the balance right, I think, but I do remember vividly that the mechanics really upset me. Anyway, I kept going back, kept trying to straighten out the situation, not just because I was responsible but because I needed the car, and the manager was exceedingly rude and condescending, and hardly willing fix their mistake. When all was said and done, I was at dinner with the Mazda's owner, venting about the way I'd been treated, and he responded by telling me that to them I was nobody, that my measly business meant nothing to them, and I should just get over it already. I don't believe the relationship lasted for too many more weeks after that. What's more, that Mazda repair place, which was a large one, was out of business within 5 months. :-)

Moving back to the present, enter The Eye Gallery...or rather don't. Last March when my prescription shifted slightly, I went for new frames and opted to try a more boutiquey place in hopes of better service. The optical place I'd used for the past 2 round of glasses (my astigmatism keeps improving just barely enough to need new lenses but alas, not to see much better without them) had given me very persistent customer service, but it took several pairs of lenses and multiple trips back and forth because their lab kept screwing up. I thought I'd go for ridiculously expensive this time, stupidly thinking that they'd employ a better lab and be more individual and less volume oriented. 7 months later, my sunglasses still aren't right. I've lost count of how many set of lenses they've made,probably 6, including the warped ones, and the barely tinted ones. This time they came back with a perfect right lens and a leopard print left lens.

I gave up dealing with the extremely unpleasant manager and tracked down the guy, who'd originally sold me the glasses in the first place. In the midst of solving the problem, that guy was fired. The reason I hated dealing with the manager is he is one of those people who talks AT me instead of listening or conversing. He's so busy telling me HOW IT IS, that I feel my blood pressure go up, as it did the other day when he started YELLING at me over the phone, accusing me of pulling a fast one by not going through him to get the problem sorted out. (Uh, was it my screw up? Gee, no.) I started to get short of breath, and in my oh so controlled anger, I began to do what most women do when they have to repress it, I started to cry.

Good lord, how I HATE doing that!!! There's an episode of Sex & the City (oh, how I miss that show...Don't talk to me about the milquetoast edited reruns!) that deals with that very subject. There's a scene where Samantha is turned down for a job based on a past uh, escapade and becomes outraged because the guy turning her away is a total slut. In her indignation and humiliation, she's just hell bent on making it to elevator before her tears become evident. The goddess may be making a comeback, but tears are still seen as a sign of weakness. So there I was the other day, trying to disengage from he who does not ever shut up and who is never wrong before my voiced cracked. It sucked.

Sometime after I'd bought my very own Mazda (an '85 626 coupe that last I heard was still running) I had a professor who pulled something similar. He was the chair of the philosophy dept. That was before we finished him off. Naively, I'd had so much fun in my other philo courses, I thought the whole dept. at GSU must be cool, but no. Despite being in this country for 15 years, this guy had an accent like Charo. He also had about as much going for him left brain wise. He would lecture endlessly about 'signs' and 'science,' and not one student in the class, including a friend of mine, whose first language was Spanish, could tell the difference. If anyone asked what he meant, he'd go ballistic and start screaming at him/her. So one day, in desperation, I asked if he'd be willing to do a list of terms relevant to what we'd just studied. He took me down in front of 30 people. Lots of diatribe about how I didn't belong in a class as complex as philosophy, etc. It felt endless. I sat there, knowing if I left I'd be flunked, and knowing, since I wasn't allowed to speak, let alone defend myself, that I was seconds away from internalized anger overload. I felt my eyes burn and the tears start to form. I prayed he'd stop and look at something, anything else, before they overflowed. I knew one gesture of hand to face, and he'd won. Even after he'd stopped ranting, I couldn't control the tears. I hid them as best I could and otherwise stayed pokerfaced. I made a lot of allies in class that day.

The next class, I sat in the same space, neither moving forward to the front row, nor slinking farther to the back. He came in and started what he believed was a lecture, then spotted me, and stopped mid sentence. "Oh, Ms. Lansford, you're back! Are you going to cry for us again today?" No one breathed. I just stared him down. Eventually, he picked back up with either 'signs' or 'science.' No one will ever know which. I didn't file a complaint. I wanted to graduate. A few quarters later, I received a call from the university, explaining they'd had multiple complaints and asking if I'd be willing to describe any of my unpleasant experiences from that course to a review panel. Someone from the class had opened up a whole can of worms and told them to contact me for back up. I happily agreed. The prof had already been asked to step down as chair. He soon left all together, but they dropped the case without ever calling me in. A couple of years later, I heard from my favorite prof, with whom I still keep in touch, that my class had brought the guy to his knees and his long time career to a halt. Perhaps retirement gave him time to pursue other interests...like taking ESL.

With my mom, the never practiced wrath is even worse. Going thru life like Polyanna and pretty much never hurting a fly, there's a family joke that no one had better be mean to her. She won't do anything to you, but bad things will happen to you all the same. Her ex-husband's life and career fell apart in an alcoholic haze, and he had a severe stroke at 57 (yes, that's would actually be my father...), and a boss, who once fired her many years ago, lost pretty much everything, including his job, his wife and kids, and being a member of the Episcopal priesthood, just to name a few. I often joke that revenge is a dish best served with smile and a heaping helping of creativity, but really, it's so much better, after the tears are gone just to know one doesn't have to do a thing but wait. Wonder what's become of my obstetrician... ;-)

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