Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: I Declare June - Confrontation Free Month

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Declare June - Confrontation Free Month

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I Am Not Confrontational, I Am Just Not Afraid of Confrontation
Earlier this week, I had a situation at Starbucks, I will get into details later, but it made me realize that I need to curb the not-backing-down attitude. I don't need to win every situation, every minute of my life does not have to be a competition. By declaring June "Non-Confrontational Month," maybe just for a short while, I can see how it feels.

Pink Wig

What Happened at Starbucks?
Last week in Chicago the weather was terrible, it rained all week. It was raining so hard that I never made it to my usual Startbucks, instead, I just went to the Starbucks next door. The Starbucks next door is uncomfortable, and I am not too familiar with the staff or the regulars, unlike the one Starbucks on Rush where everyone knows me.

Half way though my morning, I needed to plug my computer into the outlet located behind my chair. I noticed that an older French woman, who was elegantly dressed and resembled Christy Hefner, had her computer plugged into the socket and her power surge protector was blocking the second sockets. I very kindly asked if she could plug into the outlet in front of her (there was another outlet in front of her) and she refused.  She claimed her computer would die if she unplugged it.  I said, "Well, that is OK, I have about 20 minutes left on my battery, I can wait until you finish what you're working and and power off.  She ignored me. 

About 10 minutes left on the battery, I asked her again, "Excuse me? Excuse me?" She ignored me. "My battery is about to die...will you please plug into the other outlet?" She refused, she suggested I move and find another outlet. I grew angry, I said, "If you won't unplug it, I will unplug it for you." This made the old French woman very aggressive, she said strongly, "You will not touch my plug, if you touch my plug, you will be very sorry."

I was distraught. I hoped that she would leave before my battery died, but she did not. I sat there frantically staring at my battery life on my MacBook Pro...slowly dwindling...down. I thought about asking her a third time and then I decided that it would be best to ask a staff person to get involved. I felt so lame, I am an adult who has to rely on a 20-something Starbucks employee to resolve an outlet situation?

The employee came over and politely asked if she would unplug and plug into the other socket. Once again, she insisted that her computer would die but I was relieved to find that the Starbucks employee found her excuse weak. 

People started to stare, she started screaming at me in her French accent, "You did this on purpose! You know what you're doing!" I was stunned, "What am I doing? I don't think I am asking for something outrageous, I just want us all to be able to work." She did not stop, she kept yelling, "You need help, you need a psychiatrist!" A grown woman, well into her 60s, yelling at the top of her lungs, all this, over a socket.  I could not help myself, I said, "You really want to behave this way? You are a grown woman." I found sympathy in the eyes of bystanders as I sat there in silence while she lambasted me for a few more minutes. 

Dr. Phil - Please Help, Am I a "Right Fighter"? 

I thought about it in the shower the next morning. I thought about my feelings and I thought about a Dr. Phil episode I once watched on "Right Fighters". What made me behave that way?  What made me stand up to this woman even after I knew she was a little "off"?  Why could I not let go!?!
  • I hate the thought of being a push-over
  • I felt as if the woman was taking advantage of me and of the situation
  • I try not to allow sex, age or race determine how I treat people, in positive or negative situations
  • When I am right, I feel like it should be recognized
  • But most of all, deep down inside, I did not want to be a push-over

I Am Never One to Start Anything, I Am The One Who Ends It
In my normal world, I am overly considerate of others. I do my best to accommodate strangers, to make sure everyone is comfortable. I hate to see conflict, I hate to think of myself in someone's way or blocking an intersection. I always obey traffic lights, I never walk on the wrong side of the street, I never break the rules. I mean, never. I am overly cautious to say "Please" and "Thank you". I try really hard to live by a code of common courtesy and I expect others to do the same.

When I run into a situation where someone breaks this unspoken code of common courtesy, I turn into a common courtesy super hero and RIGHT FIGHT my way into re-establishing normalcy.  I want to stop this. I don't need to police the world anymore.

June...I Declare, I Will Be a Pushover! 
When I get the urge to RIGHT FIGHT, I will relax, take a breath and move on. So.... Cut in line in front of me, no worries. Steal my food, I will smile, you probably needed it more than me. Take my cab, you must be late. Bump me on Michigan Avenue during rush hour, I won't shout profanities. You owe me money and don't want to pay me back (even though I went out of my way to help you), OK, take your time, give it to me when you can...if you can. 

This is a public notice, so if you have been itching to stand up to me, say something to me, do something terrible to me - this is YOUR chance!  I will not refuse. I will back down.  I am looking forward to becoming a push-over. I want to see how it feels to NOT care about winning.  I want to see if life is better as a pushover. 

Posts Related to my RIGHT FIGHTING:
 - Doris Clark and the Unemployment Office  - I am a little nervous about posting this
 - And another post about Chicago Boat Women - how I am not in trouble over this one, I don't know



Wardell said...

Good luck with this endeavor lol, I'm very much looking forward to the followup post, hopefully you're not tested too much.

Anonymous said...

You are right to stand up for what's right. I don't understand how it makes sense to be a pushover. The reason that bullies, like this woman in the Starbucks, keep getting their way in society, is because everyone is too scared to stand up to them. That woman was angry because you had the "gall" to actually stand up to her bullsh-t - think about how ridiculous that is - it means she is not used to people actually standing up to her. Please do keep standing up to people like that.