Thursday, June 23, 2011

On dickish behavior.

Tonight at work I was faced with a situation that irked me a bit. I won't bore you with the details, but the gist of the conversation consisted of someone acting out of spite (and likely a healthy dose of laziness) while expressing fake indignation at "needing" to do so.

Come on, now, you know your ass wasn't going to be working hard whether someone pissed you off or not.

Unfortunately, this is a conversation I have all too frequently with some coworkers, and of course people I know *outside* of work.

My argument is (and yes, I use it with the people saying these things, too!), how does you being a dick in return help the situation any? Ever. The only thing that happens is that everyone gets progressively pissier, and more and more defensive of their dickish behavior, until all things productive and helpful have come to a complete standstill, because inevitably they try to get others involved in proving their own righteousness in being a bigger dick.

This situation is typically made worse by the tendency of the individuals involved in the dickish-behavior contest to not actually say a damn word to each other about it. Because, of course, "They know what they did!" So instead of saying honestly, "Hey, you did (or didn't do) _________, and it seriously pissed me off. What the hell?", and opening up a *conversation* with the person they're pissed at, they modify their own behavior in a way that makes things more difficult for that person. Then they feel the need to tell someone what they did and why, expecting applause or pats on the back or pursed-lipped "Mmmhmm!"s. And you know what? They get it. Almost every damn time. So now while the "target" of the "retaliation" may or may not realize in the first place they did something that irritated someone else, they sure notice that they are being mistreated in some way and now there's a crowd of people taking sides in this dickish-behavior contest (that, again, they may or may not have known they were involved in). At that point? Game on.

Unless, of course, one of the parties involved realizes that what is going on is only going to escalate way beyond the original point of irritation, and does something to stop it. This is perhaps how some marriages go from dirty socks on the floor to divorce.  

In any case, my main point is this: How about rather than matching them step by step with dickish behavior, try "killing them with kindness." Or honesty. And if you REALLY want to get their goat? Be genuine about it. And I'm not even being a smartass here--I'm being totally serious. If you continually show that you are a decent person who works hard and just tries to do what's right, you'll find yourself in these dickish-behavior contests a lot less often, and when you do get tangled into one it most likely won't last as long. Nothing is lost by taking the high road once in a while, when you know what that low road is going to bring. Because seriously? You're just making more work for yourself by playing these kinds of games.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Nice little surprises.

Our plans have changed, as they so often do. We are in the process of repairing our mess of a house so we can move back in it. Hopefully one day we'll sell it. But in any case we're using this opportunity to make the improvements it has desperately needed--even changing the floor plan a little--and are going to make it a house that we enjoy, rather than one we tolerate.

I was talking to a friend at work, and she asked me how long I'd been married. She was surprised when I replied "Six years," mostly because of how young I still am. When she asked "Why?" as people ask me almost every time I mention being married (most people assume an unexpected pregnancy is what led us to marry at 18/19... Nope!), I simply grinned and said "We're just crazy like that, I guess!" This time, though, the response I got to that was different than usual, and was doubly unexpected due to this person's generally sarcastic nature, which is actually something I love about her.

"Well, I guess it worked. You guys seem to be that lucky couple who still like each other, and it's not like I hear you complaining about him all the time, griping about 'THAT IDIOT' or anything."

And that was it. There was no second guessing my choice beyond that automatic first reaction of surprise, no expression of doubt that it is as good and solid of a marriage as I say it is, and no cynical statement of the statistics that insist we're doomed to divorce. (And according to the stats, there's a lot going against us--our ages, family histories, lack of religion, length of time dating before marriage, and our socioeconomic status.) There was no launching into tales of how they or friends or family members or friends of friends or family members got married young and divorced soon after.

There was no need for me to defend myself and my marriage, in all the ways I sometimes feel forced to do, which then makes me feel frustrated and ashamed, because how do you explain a marriage to someone, and why do I always end up feeling like I'm supposed to try? Why do they ask why I got married? What do they expect me to say, if it wasn't "I got pregnant"? (Never mind, they ask because they expect me to say exactly that, so they can be smug about it and say "I figured as much." Eat it, ass hats.) Why do people say asshole things like "I'm glad I  didn't get married that young," or "There's no way I was ready to get married when I was 18," or whatever else they find to say that simultaneously appears self-deprecating and gets across their negative judgment of my decision to do just that. It's similar to when people say asshole things like "At least you did things the right way and got married first, instead of having kids first like I did" or "I wish I could sit around and relax, but I get bored after a few minutes and have to get up and clean or something," or "What are you talking about? You're not fat, I'm fat."

Nope. All I got was a thoughtful, refreshing to my aching ears, "Well, I guess it worked." And you know what? It did, and it still does. And honestly? It works better now than it did when we first got married. And seriously? Isn't that the way it should be?

*Note: In case it wasn't clear by my calling people who talk about it like that "assholes," I could care less in what order someone experiences children and marriage, or if they ever even get married. I personally don't think there's a "right" way or timeline to do things, and it irritates the hell out of me when people judge others for having children without being married. Even when they say that about themselves, expecting you to feel uncomfortable and either placate them or agree with them(?), which would just piss them off and lead them to say that you think you're better than they are. Again, these people are assholes, in my opinion.