Sunday, July 12, 2009

Two Types of People

I have no forgiveness in my soul. The very idea of forgiveness is one I cannot quite comprehend. A murderer kills someone’s family member and she is interviewed on television saying she forgives him and accepts his punishment in this life or beyond. No, ma’am, there is no need to forgive, I say. Maybe you accept things, maybe you’re at peace, but you don’t forgive. I don’t forgive.

When a patron walks into the library, they are immediately cast into one of two categories: people who have pissed me off, and people who haven’t. There is no forgiveness. If you acted afool one time in the 17 years I’ve worked there, and you yelled at me or someone I care about on staff, you go into the People Who Pissed Me Off category forever. It doesn’t matter if I’ve had 200 neutral or positive experiences with you since that fateful day. The fact alone that you went into a library and hurt someone’s feelings with your selfish tantrum is something I’ll never look past. I may not treat you in a way that’s noticeably different, but I have a threshold of kindness I can afford you, required by my position, and I will not go beyond the required amount of kindness I must show you to keep my job. There will be no bending of the rules, no sitting at a computer with you for an hour to help you fill out a job application, no recommending of books that are awesomely life-changing, and no real smiles. You may not be a smelly person who is mentally ill, but you will be treated with the same safe distance I allot those folks. And I’m good at this, so you might not even realize it because you have never been a recipient of the smiley, friendly, jovial service I offer people I really like.

The same applies to my coworkers; they fall into the same two categories, and whenever I have dealings with those who have pissed me off, they too are kept at a safe distance I reserve for bad patrons and the mentally ill.

This week, one of my coworkers went from one category to the other.

All it took was one painful, 30-second conversation with him yelling at me and treating me like an idiot, and when I hung up the phone saying goodbye, I said goodbye to the friendship and cast him into a pail of coworkers I would just as soon avoid. It’s sad, actually, because I qualified him as a friend, and there is a slight sense of loss, but more than that, there’s a sense of betrayal. And if there’s one thing I never get over, it’s betrayal.

Working in a library, I’ve had many heated debates with my coworkers, disagreed on many topics, and have poked fun at them on this blog, but there is a stark, cold disparity between having a difference of opinions and having a coworker who would brutally rip you a new asshole at work, for no reason or due to no fault of yours, just their own inability to do their job, remember previous conversations, and show a little decorum in dealing with a question from you that they do not want to deal with because of above mentioned inability and lack of memory.

I’m sorry, but you don’t get to read me the riot act because I asked an innocent question about something that you should have taken care of two months ago. Your job is stressful, your life is stressful, and often you deal with idiots. Welcome to the club. It’s not an exclusive club. You’re not so fucking special. Behave professionally, please. Unless you’re on a ledge about to jump, you don’t get to say those things to me and expect me to take it without consequence. And consequences don’t involve filing a complaint at work or taking it to your boss. No, I am not the weasel in this situation. Consequences simply mean you will always be That Guy, right then, the one who was screaming condescendingly at me on the phone. That conversation will be in my head each and every time I deal with you. And you will simply get what I give the smelly, mentally ill patrons: what is required of me by my job description. Nothing more.

Because if not for the job, we would not cross paths ever again. And if we encounter one another outside of work, I don’t even owe you a courtesy hello.

On a staff of 50, many of whom I have close relationships with, in an environment with an unusual legacy of life-long bonding with coworkers, you are cast down and out, into the realm of exile, and I won’t listen to your long, rambling stories, or ask about your family, or even speak to you unless necessary. We are done. This does not mean I carry this anger with me forever, nor does it mean I punish myself reliving the events and the emotions. The hurt feelings go away. The anger goes away. I just think so much less of you. You are That Guy now, who cannot keep it together and castigates anyone who happens by, passing your judgment, thinking you’re superior, thinking you can get away with saying anything that pops into your head, perhaps even boldly thinking that our friendship affords you more leeway than lesser beings. You are so wrong. If I happen by, and trust me, I will not do so of my own choosing, a very long arm’s length will be applied, and it will never be the way it once was. I simply do not care about you anymore, and I have no delusions that this is something that matters to you, that I am denying you some great luxury in life. It is my means of self-preservation, and since you are not capable of taking my feelings into consideration, I must do so by omitting the perceived threat. We are coworkers. Once that meant something.

I don’t even know what forgiveness is, but I don’t have any, nor do I want any. There are simply two types of people in this world. People Who Have Pissed Me Off, and People Who Haven’t. You will be treated accordingly.


Cat. said...

Wow remind me never to piss you off, k? ;-)

To clarify, for me forgivness is important because I do so much that I need to have someone forgive ME for!! And if I'm going to ask someone's forgiveness, it's only fair that I be willing to do the same for others. While forgiveness means not holding onto feelings of pissed-offed-ness, it does NOT mean (to me) that I can't file someone's behavior away for future reference to compare to later behavior. Forgiveness is also a whole lot easier if there is an apology. However, "sorry" also (to me) implies, "I will try not to let it happen again." If it keeps happening, really--how sorry are you?

I can forgive stupid, stressful bullshit and not forget that it happened, but I have a much harder time if there is no acknowledgement of the fact by the transgressor. And the really hard one for me is condescenscion. I can live with almost anything but that. Pull that one out once and forever after I'm on a hair-trigger waiting for it to happen again. I'm not proud of that, but there ya go.

Anyway, this guy sounds like a loser. Send him over and I'll chew on his ass for ya--it'll give me somewhere to vent my inappropriate frustrations. ;-)

Happy Villain said...


You wrote, "Wow remind me never to piss you off, k?" People say that to me a lot. It must mean something.

I understand that apologies make forgiveness that much easier, but for some reason, apologies are an endangered species in some parts, and many of the people who offend frequently have lost the ability to apologize, so I quit considering it as a option. I, too, can forgive stupid, stressful bullshit, but I think this one was a little more severe. And above all else, I don't believe in flukes. Everything is a pattern. I've dated enough men to know that none I have ever known on any level are capable of doing anything just once. If a monster rears its ugly head, that monster is a part of their personalities, and you either accept it or you don't. Mostly, I don't. If I send him over to you, you'll have to chew and then send him right back. He's the only person in his department. (And now everyone I work with knows who I wrote this about.)

Debbie said...

I am so fortunate! My library has the same size staff as yours, and there's really no one who has pissed me off like that. Now patrons, that's a different story. I could spend hours writing about them. But I've never been able to hold a grudge very long, even when I want to, and we have so many patrons come through our doors (about 3,000 a day) that I can't remember who pissed me off anyway.

Cat. said...

I think I can assure you that once chewed, his ass will never be the same. I have a great deal of pent-up hostility, and in fact have been told that I "terrify" people when I'm angry. I've actually watched people's faces change as I ramp up, from neutral to concerned to "where's the exit?"

I'm not proud of this, and I try to keep things under wraps around people I have to work with, so chewing on other people's problems gives me great joy.

And then again, I know someone who desperately needs a job in a library that pays more than $6/hour as she gets paid now as (essentially) the director/techserv/org. liaison/chief cook and bottle washer. Plus, she's nice. And funny. And green, and all about teh natchrul cures (since everytime she sees a dr. they seem to f*** her over).

Which brings me to the captcha: NATUSE. hehe Even your word ID is getting in on the Green Thing, almost. ;-)