Saturday, August 15, 2009

I don't do "mad" well

I don't do "mad" well. I'll try to explain.

My dad always told me how important it was to speak up for myself, that nobody else was going to do it if I didn't. He kind of went into every situation, whether it was getting a car fixed or going out to eat (which he did as little as possible), with the assumption that someone was out to get him and, by god, he would not allow it. And if anything was out of order, he could always successfully wear down the offending party to achieve (what he perceived to be) justice.

In other words, he could get mad and get results.

Wife's father was, and is, similar -- and her mother too, for that matter. She recalls her mother telling her, "You just let people walk all over you, that's what you do."

And now, Wife doesn't do "mad" well either. If she gets mad enough, she'll end up crying, bless her heart.

We have put our heads together and decided, just maybe, the determination we saw in our respective parents didn't look all that attractive to us and that's why we are each a little on the meek side. We are not into the pop psychology that might have us blaming our parents for this; we both had (and Wife still has) very good relationships with our parents. We just acknowledge the possibility of our parents being the root cause of this characteristic we share.

What happens, of course, is that Wife and I often feel taken advantage of because we either (a) refuse to get mad like we probably should or (b) we get mad, but we do it so poorly that we make fools of ourselves.

Here are some recent examples and one not so recent:

-- Daughter has had a laptop computer that is nothing short of a lemon. It's a piece of crap. Fortunately (I guess) we bought the extended warranty when we purchased it two years ago. Under said warranty, you take it back to Big Box ("BB" -- and I'll let you figure out who they are) for repair. Only BB keeps it, oh, anywhere from two to four weeks, or they might even forget to send it off to wherever the heck it is they send it. So you just do without while it's gone. And they don't care how much inconvenience that might cause you.

The fine print in the warranty states that, the FOURTH time you bring it in for repair, they will give you a new computer. So about four weeks ago, not long before Daughter would be leaving to go back to school, you guessed it. The piece of crap goes down for the fourth time.

Daughter and I showed up at BB with computer in hand. I walked up to the service desk, explained the problem and said, "I want a new computer." The guy behind the counter said that wasn't his decision. I repeated, with a little more volume, "I want a new computer." I got the same response.

I think I said, "I want a new computer" about a half dozen times before he explained to me that he would again have to send it off to wherever, and they would let us know something as soon as possible. I felt Daughter nudging me from behind as I gave him the history of the worthless machine and all the trouble it had caused for two years. I think I was still saying it as Daughter guided me out the door. And I'm pretty sure I was shaking.

The story has a happy ending, in that a week later they called and Daughter got her new computer. But it probably had nothing to do with my ranting which, Daughter admitted, actually scared her. You see, I just don't do mad well.

-- Wife and I frequent a little neighborhood restaurant. We love the food and the ambiance there and we eat there often. We have sent a lot of our friends there. We have been extremely good customers.

When eating there a couple of weeks ago, Wife told the waitress that she would like to purchase a gift card for a friend who had recently done her a very nice favor. For some reason this threw her (the waitress) into a dither and I never fully understood why she could not just add $25 to our bill rather than having to go ask her manager, three different times, how to do it, but for some reason she could not.

Anyway, after much discussion between our waitress and management, and our having to have two totally different checks for our meal and the gift card, we left with the card, which Wife presented to her friend the next day.

Imagine Wife's surprise and embarrassment when Wife's friend called a few days later and told her he and his wife and been to the restaurant and, upon presenting it at the end of their meal, were told the gift card was worthless. He had to fork over the money and pay.

Wife immediately called the restaurant's manager who said he just didn't understand how that could have happened, but he would get back with her. He eventually called her back and said obviously the waitress did not "key it in" correctly. He said he would leave a new gift card at the front and we could pick it up. He never ONCE apologized or offered us any kind of additional compensation for our trouble. Wife said he was much more concerned with the mistake the employee had made than the trouble and embarrassment it had caused us.

Wife took her friend $25 cash and apologized all over herself. We want $25 cash from our former favorite neighborhood cafe but, see, we don't do mad well and if I went up there and made a scene and raised hell, I'd regret it later. Same for Wife.

But if my dad were alive? Or if Wife's mom or dad had this happen to them? Any of them would walk in there and walk out with not only the $25 cash but probably the gift card as well. But me? Or Wife? No, we will just slip in and get the new gift card, then go right back in there and eat again because we can't let that go to waste.

-- Wife and I went to another restaurant Thurs. night to celebrate our anniversary. We had one of the worst waiters of all time. Not only did he give poor service, but he called Wife "Sweetie," interrupted our conversation, didn't listen to our orders, never offered to refill glasses and was incredibly annoying.

But what did I do? Well, I didn't say much to him but he didn't get much of a tip either. At least I can do that.

-- Now here's a funny one that happened over a year ago.

When Older Son graduated from college, we, as his parents, who had paid a fair amount of money for that college education, thought it would be appropriate for us to be there.

At this graduation, which included a large number of graduates, the names were called rapidly. This was necessary if the event was not going to last eight or nine hours.

As names were called, however, it was very common for large groups to get up and leave. What became obvious was that, when So-and-So's son, daughter or whatever's name was called and the stroll across the stage was complete, So-and-So was done.

And guess what? There was a big old bunch of these So-and-Sos sitting right in front of us and they all got up, en masse, and walked out just as Older Son's name was called. AND WE DID NOT SEE OUR SON GET HIS DIPLOMA BECAUSE THESE INCREDIBLY RUDE PEOPLE WERE IN OUR WAY!

Well, I will tell you that Wife and I did not care at that moment how poorly we do "mad." We let them all know how rude we thought they were and I told them I was very happy for them, that they got to see their son/daughter/whatever graduate, because I, because of them, had not had the same privilege.

Daughter and Younger Son were both humiliated but we didn't care. After a while we started to laugh about it and it's become one of the favorite family stories, of Mom and Dad "losing it" at the same time (which wasn't pretty). So, even though Wife and I may not do mad well, we did it at this event, and we really don't regret it.

But that's definitely the exception.


Debby said...

I find that when I really, really get mad, it's as if I am struck dumb. I cannot speak, or if I do, it's nearly gibberish. Rarely, if ever, am I furious and coherent at the same time. Usually, I cry. And when I calm down, when words come back, I write a letter of complaint or make a phone call. And why is it that when your kids are mad, it is always completely justified, but when you work up a full head of steam, you receive the rolled eyes, the shaking head, etc.? Why?

Pam said...

I used to not do mad well. Age has, in this respect, NOT mellowed me.

I now do "mad" VERY WELL!!

I think it was dealing with various cable companies and repair services that honed my "mad" skills into a fine art!

Bob said...

I have had my share of that too, Pam, so one would think I would have gotten better at it. But my recent BB experiences shows I'm still not very good at it.

quid said...

Bob, this post was like a steak dinner. Every different "course" was hilarious, ironic, and easy to relate to. I ran it around in my feeble mind for awhile to see what it reminded me of. AHA! I remembered it. And it's my post for today.

Loved yours.... quid

Bob said...

OK, Quid, I'm on my way there now . . .

Bob Barbanes said...

Bob, great post! But meet another Bob who doesn't do "mad" well either. I wish I could, but I simply do not have the energy to waste...yes WASTE being as angry with so many, many things as *my* dad was, and he must've been a carbon-copy of your dad.

So the things that send my friends off into orbit don't bother me much. I figure I'll live longer.

You too ;)

Kelly said...

I don't guess I do mad very well, either. I'm what my family refers to as "big talk, little do". I can rant and rave like crazy to them, but seldom direct it to the offending party.