Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Am I tough enough to be pleasant?

Apparently not.

While playing derby has helped me overcome my fear of confrontation with random strangers and bitchy clerks, it appears it has also taken down some of my walls which prevent me from being nice when I don't have to be.

For those of us walking around with general rage against everything, derby is no way helpful.  I know that there is a popular belief that says that playing a physical sport, especially a contact one, helps diffuse violent tendencies, but I haven't found that at all.  I think it actually stokes my rage a bit.  Sort of like how venting doesn't make anyone feel better, it just creates a bad habit of whining.

So, to the minivan lady in the crowded parking lot, who idled close to my kids while they were waiting for me to join them at the car, forcing all the drivers to go around her while dodging tiny pedestrians, when you pulled close to demand if I was actually leaving or not, I'm sorry I went on the defensive and snapped at you.  What I should of said was, 'yes, I am leaving,' and failed to say anything more, except maybe to politely direct you to the nearly empty parking lot behind the building.  Of course, I didn't shut up after giving the basic information, but I do believe there was little smile at the end of my choice words, though I fear it was more of the sarcastic type.

I really am a nice person.  It's just that I forget sometimes.

Feeling hot, cranky and aggressive is a bad combination for a woman hauling around small children.  There are so many small slights, so much thoughtless behavior, so many near misses on the road that it's very easy to feel justified when you decide to figuratively drop the gloves with someone equally cranky in a parking lot.  But, when I think about it with some emotional distance, I can't see how the solution to rude is to be rude right back.  I think of how strong people are made stronger by showing restraint.  By giving people the benefit of the doubt.  Keeping cool even in the face of extreme provocation.  I would be so easy to go off on another person, because I typically assume I am smarter and stronger, plus I frequently hit people for fun, but where would that lead me?  And, holy fuck, my kids are watching!

I can hear the snickers now by those who know me, but I actually began college learning to become a social worker.  I lasted one whole semester before I transferred my freaked out self right out of there into an academic stream, but my application essay comes to mind frequently.  I was asked to write about someone I admire and I choose to write about Mother Teresa, who was all kinds of awesome.  It is her example of compassion and mercy that pops guiltily to mind every time I find myself using hip checks to navigate the frozen food section or screaming out the window at bad drivers to, 'Put some skates on, bitch!'

What would Mother Teresa do?  I like to think that she would indeed put some skates on and come kick my punk ass, but I know she wouldn't.  She would probably just shake her head sadly at the way I allow my anger to move me through the world and perhaps give me some soup.  Put me to work with leper kids or something. 

The world does not need more ugly, especially from me.  My goal right now is to practice patience and control.  To take the next step beyond being a bad ass.  To say, yes, I could throttle that very annoying person, but I'm choosing not to because I'm a good person, fuckingdamnit.

Maybe some of this emotional control will transfer to the track.  Or maybe they're right, and I can bottle it until it's time to open up a can of whoop ass (which I'm not entirely the meaning of, but I'm starting to suspect it involves cow bells somehow).  Or maybe I'll just get into the habit of seeing people with a more compassionate eye and treating them accordingly.  As long as it doesn't interfer with derby.  Because right now I'd rather be the hammer and the nail, even if it doesn't make me popular with minivan ladies.

Got to have priorities, you know?

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