Temper, temper!

Do you know what I hate more than anything in the world?

Well, probably prejudice, bigotry, and evil, to be honest, but sometimes you need a dramatic opening question, and “Do you know what I really strongly dislike, a lot more than weak coffee but considerably less than murder and crying babies?” just doesn’t cut it.

Anyway: being told what to do. I hate being told what to do. Now, if you happen to be my boss, my doctor, my teacher/instructor/trainer, or a police officer catching me in the act of committing a misdemeanor, by all means, tell me what to do, when necessary. You have the right, you have the authority, and I will be meek and obedient. I was the best-behaved child you could ever imagine when I was at school, so respectful (and/or terrified) was I of rules and authority figures. I am afraid of my dentist, and I panic when I see a police car behind me on the road, even if I know for certain that I haven’t broken any traffic laws. I don’t want you thinking I am some headstrong, fiery, TO HELL WITH AUTHORITY, I WILL DO AS I PLEASE sort of character. I’m really rather obliging and submissive.

Unless, that is, you have absolutely no right to tell me what to do. That makes my blood boil. If done continually, on a regular basis, this becomes a rolling boil to the extent where steam begins to spew from my ears and nose, and you can see my hands becoming trembling fists as the internal pressure builds. The angry explosion is imminent.

It very nearly happened today. One of my newest colleagues, who started only a few months ago, has managed to give me orders at least once a day since she got there. The thing is, however, that I can’t really say anything because she’s not doing it in a bad way. It’s like she’s trying to give me friendly help and advice, or even just make casual suggestions… but because she phrases it as an instruction each time, she is unknowingly turning up the heat in my internal pressure cooker of irritated fury.

“Wear a jacket outside from now on, it’s not summer any more,” she told me, seeing me leave work in a t-shirt one sunny evening. (“I will, when it gets cold,” I told her politely).

“Go downstairs, we will eat lunch now,” she has said on more than one occasion as she passes my room and sees me cleaning up after art class or finishing something on my computer. (“Yes, I’m just finishing this,” I point out. It’s as if she thinks I don’t know where to go at lunch time, despite having been here every working day for the past three years.)

And then, at lunch, it’s like she watches everything I eat and gets agitated if I don’t seem to be touching one particular food. “Eat this one,” she tells me suddenly. (“I don’t like it,” or “I’m watching my calorie intake,” or “just fecking leave me alone and let me choose what I want to eat!” I reply through gritted teeth.)

“Stop slouching at your desk.”

“Don’t drink coffee, drink this tea.”

“Take an umbrella.”

“Go home now, you aren’t supposed to be working this late.”

Every. Fecking. Day. I just know she’s going to do it at the worst possible moment soon, when I’m having a bad day or when something’s bothering me, and then I am just going to explode all over the place, and it’ll be in response to the most innocent and sweet suggestion imaginable, like “Eat this chocolate” or “Cuddle this puppy”. It won’t matter: I am getting more and more irritated by her daily orders, and now I can’t hear her use the imperative without clenching my fists. Today, another colleague was saying that she switched the heating on in her house the other night. I was obviously incredulous, and laughed, saying “I’m still using my fan!”.

I regretted it as soon as it was out of my mouth, as my instructor instantly jumped on my casual remark. “Don’t you have a cold?” she asked sharply. I actually sighed, this time, bracing myself. “Yes,” I said wearily and warily. She looked sternly at me. “Then don’t use a fan,” she ordered.

I nearly lost it at that, that’s how mad she’s making me.

“But if I’m going out, and I’ve used the shower and the hairdryer, and I’m too warm, and I don’t want my make-up to run or my hair to go all damp and frizzy, I need to cool the place down.” I told her fiercely, noting other colleagues’ somewhat surprised glances at my disproportionately passionate response, and yet unable to stop myself. I paused to take a deep, calming breath, at which point she shook her head and said “No. If you are too hot it is good, you will get better. Don’t cool down. No fan.”

Ohhhhhhhh. Emmmmmm. Geeeeeeee.

I nearly threw the remainder of my seaweed soup in her face, but settled for staring intently into it (the soup, not her face) for a few seconds, and counting to ten in my head before rising to return my bowls to the kitchen.

I must not get angry at friendly advice. I must not get angry at friendly advice. I must not get angry at friendly advice.

But arrrrrrghhhhhhh…. STOP TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!!!!


4 thoughts on “Temper, temper!

  1. Billy says:

    Ugh, I had this problem with a bratty 17 year old in work. I eventually exploded at him, telling him to shut up and stop giving me orders. He laughed and continued to tell me what to do until I changed departments to get away from him. Some people are just too confident!

  2. You could try alternating between responses such as “I’ll take that under advisement”, “Yes, MUM!” or a favourite from the American South, ‘Bless your heart!’ Or just punch her in the face, whatever’s easiest I guess!!

  3. Susanne Walter says:

    Remember: the politest way of being really, REALLY rude, intentionally rude, is to ignore somebody completely. So – smile politely. Do not say anything. Whatever she says. After a while, it worked with my obnoxious stepmother. Eventually, it even worked with the rudest, most unbearably undereducated man I ever met. Actually, not only did it work, it annoyed the hell out of them. And the brilliant thing is, you don´t have to explain your – perhaps unforgivable – explosion. If asked, just say something like “Oh, she meant me? I hadn´t realised. Sorry.” And then you smile at her some more. Pointedly.
    Do try it. And good luck.

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