Some years ago, a neurotic mess of a manager accused me of telling people what they want to hear. This came after she spent the better part of the morning trying to figure out what was wrong with the computer and concluded that I must have done something to it…intentionally. All she had to do is ask for help but the evil critter that lived in her head told her that I was to blame.
Chris Rock once joked about women taking simple workplace disagreements to the level of some multi-nation conflict.
I’m not saying he was right.
But I understand.
The morning’s technical difficulty somehow led her to lash out at me and I was not surprised. I knew it was coming. There was something that hung in the air between us. It was there from the time that I happened to catch her in a tiny lie involving a matter of negligible importance. It was the day she realized I was not quite as stupid as she imagined.
She pointed in my face and spewed venom from deep within her tiny body. Her words and demeanor were supposed to frighten me. She slammed the desk in front of her while hissing a litany of things she thought wrong with me.
“You go around smiling at people and telling them what they want to hear! You always put a pretty face on things!”
I never knew precisely to what she was referring. Perhaps it was the fact that I didn’t put the same amount of effort as she into fitting in with people. Her paranoia about her own shortcomings clouded her judgement. I hardly remember all that was said but I do remember feeling amused by her tantrum.
She sent me home for the day to think about what I’d done. Like she was sending a naughty child to her room to consider how best to apologize for her unseemly behavior at the dinner table.
I went to a movie instead.
When I returned to work I found an olive branch in the guise of a blueberry cobbler waiting for me. I guess sending me home for the day gave her time to to think about what she’d done.
It’s been years and I’ve thought about that day many times. I’ve thought about who I was then and who I am today. I’ve had my moments to be sure but I don’t tell people what they want to hear. The truth is quite the opposite.
I tell them what I want to say.
I say what I want, when I want and I’m not one to misspeak. Of course, this means I seldom apologize once I take aim and fire off with a verbal assault.
Even on that day so long ago. It was a one-sided argument that rewarded me with an unexpected day off. But I have wondered about the face I present to the world. Am I someone other than I appear to be? Am I a wolf in sheep’s clothing?
Whatever I might be, you’ll know when I let you know.