I know I can be difficult. I spent my entire childhood (through age 18) hearing on a regular that I was stubborn, argumentative, bull-headed, etc.
This mostly came from my Irish father. I have no idea from whence I inherited these traits…
Anyway, I got it, okay, Dad? Yes. I can be a pistol. And therefore, I tend to overcompensate as an adult by being as easy-going as possible. That includes trying to be fair a lot. “Fair” is a big word in my head, and not the way adolescents use it when protesting basically anything they disagree with.
I want people to like me. I want certain people to really like me.
So I found myself in a bit of a pickle mid-week when I got a voicemail from Rick at work.
As you know if you’ve been playing the home version of our game, Rick was the first guy (oh, also last guy) I dated after the Jack Debacle, and therefore I got to practice some of my new rules.
Rule #1: Stop Being Too Fair/Nice
At work Tuesday afternoon, I’d sent Rick an email with the link to an article in the local paper that he needed to see. It held legislative ramifications for work, and that’s his area. He replied to my email saying he had read the article and thanking me for sending it.
Wednesday afternoon I returned to my officle from a meeting to find a voicemail from Rick.
“Hey, it’s Rick giving you a call. Give me a buzz back when you get a minute…” and then he tried to say something and stumbled over his words and then finished, “Ugh, gah, sorry – I’m so out of it from being in the hospital. Um… (deliberate pause for effect)… yeah, so give me a ring when you get back. Thanks.”
I wish you could see the face I made, but it was something like this:
So I called him back. He said he had called to thank me again for sending him the link to the article. Come on, dude. You already thanked me via email like 22 hours ago. And you could have just thanked me in the voicemail. I didn’t save your job or help you escape from entrapment in a crevice. It was just a link to a story. No, what he had really called to do was tell me about how he’d been in the hospital for two days. The “thank you” lasted exactly as long as it took you to read it. The story about his hospitalization took like 15 minutes.
And it’s not that I don’t care. I do. I’m truly sorry that he was feeling so awful and that it turns out he’s either got IBS or Crohn’s Disease. I empathized as much as I could while thinking he was being an attention-seeker. I know some other people who have those conditions and it’s pretty miserable when it’s flaring up, and I don’t want that for him. And yes, it also sucks that he has kidney stones and may not be so fortunate as to have them broken up by ultrasound, thereby necessitating the other, far less pleasant procedure. I displayed, I think, an appropriate amount of conversational concern.
But listen, bub. You might be hot. And I might still like you. And if we were actually friends, I would have been very concerned and probably would have come to visit you. But I am holding fast to my policy of not caring about your life beyond our building, precisely because I still like you, and therefore could do without caring too much and getting all wrapped up in yet another game of “Fall For The Emotionally Unavailable One! Yes! Do It!” For the first three weeks after I found out about Jack’s engagement, I found myself looking for excuses to come see you in your office or call you about something, but you know what? I didn’t actually do it. Because even though it would have made me feel better about myself, it would have been manipulative and self-defeating. And I don’t play that.
Also? I don’t tell you anything about my personal life anymore. I don’t seek you out for storytime so I can feel like you still care. So stop it. Your girlfriend was with you, right? I thought so.
See? Difficult. Possibly unfair. Old Me tried not to be that way.
The next day I turned to find him standing near my desk. “Hey!” he said. “Just uh, bringing you two invitations to the grand opening of the new building on Monday…” (he held up and then handed to me two invitations that my division designed, thanks – and why two? This isn’t a gala. It’s a workday event. It’s the least grand opening of anything ever.)
I looked down at my desk calendar and pointed squarely at the blue ink in the Monday box. “Yep. Right there on my calendar,” I said.
“Oh, great! And…uh… also I wanted to tell you that I’m going to send you the link to a live camera we have now of the construction going on over on that side of the grounds,” he said, pointing in the direction of the area. “So if you guys want to write up a story on it or anything…”
I was approximately this expressive:
Then I realized it and remembered to move my eyebrows or something, so I did as I replied, “Oh, uh-huh. Okay, cool.” Why are you here, exactly?
“Great,” he said, rubbing his hands together. “Okay! Thanks!”
“Yep! Thank you!” I replied, consciously trying to insert the exclamation points.
And then he never sent me the email. Which is fine because I’m not writing a story about the camera. And I have a feeling he knows that.
And I felt kind of bad, you know? Like I was unnecessarily dismissive. I mean I really couldn’t figure out why he was standing in my officle that day, but had I been rude?
But then the most amazing thing happened. I told Brad the story, and I told Angie and Joey the story, and I told Sister 2 the story, and I told Mama-Friend the story… and they all said basically the same thing.
“Oh please. Eff him. How pathetic.”
You mean… you mean I’m not a bitch?
OMG I’m not! I’m not a bitch! I’m not difficult! I’m too nice! I worry too much about other people’s feelings and not enough about my own! This is amazing!
I totally win at Rule #1.