It's not just Don Imus who is in apology mode this week. I feel like I lost my temper somewhat over the past few days, and went for a counter-productive stroll on the dark side. It's a matter of pacing myself and not letting the frustrations of these years dictate my mood. But that approach certainly didn't work over the weekend, and I became steamed.
I used to have to address banquet crews of sometimes 30 or so people in my captain days and this was one of my pet subjects: It's not enough if we pull this function off, if we have to lose it with each other to do it. If the end result involves hard feelings and an ugly vibe in the crew, then we have failed, even if the party was a success.
I have a commenter who is named Butch who got to me. I've defended him in the past when he got to other people, but I set a standard for myself that I wouldn't descend into what I would call the pre-fight rhetoric of the tavern days: Things that you say that are not intended to do anything but piss off the other person. I also admit this thing with Butch has been building for months and I do sound crankier than I should with him but that was just banter. However, there was an exact point when it turned to anger for me.
I have identified the type of comment that sets me off, and hopefully, I will not let my reaction happen again. So what was my vulnerability?
What gets me is when someone asks you something and then proceeds as if you had answered. Maybe it's better if I give you a fictitious example:
"Did you even bother to read the Constitution? I didn't think so."
I have put up with a lot of goading from Butch. He'll ask me a question that's off the immediate subject, and then if I ignore it, he'll repeat it and say I'm ducking the question and what's my response? Then he'll say, "I'm still waiting..." That sort of thing - though irritating - is not the problem.
However, it turns out that if someone asks me something and then assumes what my response would be, it makes me mad, especially if they are wrong. That's a problem area, and I admit it, but it ends today.
I think if you're going to ask someone something and not give them a chance to reply, it is disrespectful, but I can handle that. However, if you presume to be able to look into someone's head and know the answer, that is very annoying. And when your clairvoyance does not extend to being correct, well, I find that intensely obnoxious.
Check that: I used to find that obnoxious. I'm reprogramming my operating system and adding that patch. But the real problem is I shouldn't have allowed it to get to me.
Many times after a serious banquet, I would see people apologizing to each other. Some wouldn't speak for months. Others would just shift into a continual ongoing annoyance with each other that just means there is a little more ugliness in the world.
I don't want to be in that group - we should be able to vent on these blogs without escalating into anger. I apologize to Butch. You're a challenge to me, and this past weekend, I came up short. I apologize for getting mad.
I will end with a funny story that shows the positive side of my interactions with Butch. On Friday I created a new folder for the radio network and put that day's work into it. We're talking about 30 to 50 jokes - the numbers vary. Just before I sent this batch, I didn't recognize this new folder so I dragged it to the Trash and emptied the Trash, losing the work.
Now, I know there is a program to retrieve things even after they are emptied from the Trash but I did not have time to learn that. I called my radio clients and said the material would be late that day, and then I started typing the jokes again from scratch.
Thanks to my many rapid, anger-driven exchanges with Butch, I am now a high-speed typist. The problem was fixed in half an hour.