Monday, July 13, 2009

Never Again

When I get very, very angry, I use that phrase. "Never again," I sometimes seethe. Other times leave me sighing those two words. And - very rarely - I curl up and sob after I've said them.

When something sucks, it is natural to want to avoid a similar experience in the future. Like when Friend flew into a nearby city? And I sat in traffic for freaking hours?

"Never again," I said when she got in the car. Though I love her dearly, I'd rather pay $200 to get her to a closer airport than suffer through inching along highways.

Likewise, I walked out of the UPS store this afternoon and muttered "Never Again," to Vera Bradley. I wanted a new laptop bag and desired a fun pattern. I knew there were some retiring fabrics on sale and, having never owned a Vera Bradley bag, decided I could get a mini hipster (which is absolutely adorable and the perfect size for all those work items that I might carry should I run an errand on my way home) and a laptop portfolio. The latter was huge and hard, which seems a good thing in general but when applied to laptop bags is not ideal. I carried it to work once and decided I'd return it - it was just a stupid design.

I decided a messenger would be better. Same Mediterranean White color, but in a friendly, floppy design! I printed the return form and filled it out, stopping to send the icky bag back. On my way back to my car, I realized that I'd paid $10 to have it shipped to me, another $10.50 to send it back and then $10 to have the messenger shipped. Feeling a bit sad, I returned home to see that the messengers were marked down another $15! So I lost $45 here! Way to make me feel badly about a cute bag, Vera Bradley. I hope I enjoy it because when it comes to buying from you in the future? Never Again.

After a Very Tense conversation with DifferentPerson this morning, I sighed. "This is going to happen again," I told him. "You like to plan and and I like to do. I'm frustrated without an action item and you're annoyed when I act before you're ready to make a decision. But," I paused for effect, "You Must Respect Me."

He said that he did and I scoffed. "Then it's not acceptable to send snippy emails or criticize my choices or try to make me feel badly. When you do that, it makes me dread having to work with you. And given our overlapping roles, that's bad."

"I don't want to manage your priorities," he stated at one point. "I don't have time."

"No," I said, probably too loudly. "You don't manage my priorities because you don't have the right to do so! We are peers, DifferentPerson. Equals. You need to understand that and act like you believe it - even if you don't - or we're going to have this same resentment constantly."

"I didn't mean to make you feel badly," he finally said.

"Thank you," I finally replied. And he started talking about how stressed he was and I said that everyone was and we talked about priorities and moods and the like. Then, filled with excess energy after hanging up, I began to clean my office. I reorganized my bookshelves. I filed paperwork. I crawled under my desk and plugged in cords so they were better organized. I dusted and polished. I found a spot for my award - very visible from where I sit but unobtrusive when visitors enter.

I fought another battle I don't think I'll need to face again. I made my position clear, braced for impact and argued until I won. (It was actually pretty easy, but I deserve credit for being prepared.)

"Finding your happy place?" A colleague asked when she walked by my door. "I heard you earlier. Are you OK?" Wincing when I realized I should have closed my door before having it out with DifferentPerson, I shrugged at her.

"I'm having a hard time lately," I admitted.

"Customers?" she asked sympathetically and I shook my head.

"Well, some customers, I guess. And colleagues." I paused and sighed. "I'm the common factor. It's me that's the problem." And given my fondness for drama and ability to somehow create it so as to avoid boredom, I assume you'll hear a similar story at some point soon.

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