Peace!

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“Are you mad?”, my husband would ask, after some infraction.

“I’m not MAD,” was my usual reply, “I am HURT!”

“Oooooh, Mommy’s REALLY mad,” he’d wink toward our daughters, who were too young to understand, “she used the ‘H’ word!”

It’s true, hurt feelings are the worst.

It’s not that I don’t get angry.

I get angry about war, drunk drivers and world hunger. It doesn’t feel personal, though.

Hurt feelings are personal, caused by unfair or unjust treatment, or by unkind actions or comments.

It always feels – to me – that if I were a better person, I would not be subjected to poor treatment. That doesn’t make sense, I know, but that’s what it feels like. All childish feelings of inadequacy come to the fore. Tears follow; then defensiveness; then anger.

Then (my husband of thirty years ago would tell you), “Watch out!”

What follows then is a rant.

I was raised in a household where “speaking up” and “talking back” were strongly discouraged. As a fairly shy person, I’ve never been particularly good at it anyway. I can’t think of the right thing to say or the right way to say it. I can’t speak out without crying, which doesn’t give the correct message. The hurt feelings will not go away without getting it out. Fortunately – or unfortunately, as the case may be – I’ve always been pretty good at writing.

As a child, with sibling rivalry running amok in our family, I’d write long diatribes about the unfairness. I’d imagine running away from home…or maybe even dying…leaving nothing but the pages. Reading them, my parents would realize how unjust they had been. “She was our best child!”, they would mourn, “Why didn’t we realize it in time?”

As a teenager, every single bit of distress was put on paper, usually in the form of extremely bad poetry.

I started keeping a journal as a young adult. It was used as my sounding board, whenever my husband wasn’t listening.

Most of the time, I was smart enough to keep my writings to myself. The act of getting it all out was usually enough to dispel the feelings of hurt, frustration and anger, and I could move on.

There are exceptions.

Once, when I felt my mother had unfairly criticized my parenting, I wrote her a lengthy letter saying, basically, “you have no room to talk,” and outlining the reasons why. The next time I saw Mom, she patted my arm and generously said, “Let’s just let it go for now. We’ll talk more about it when your kids are older.” Well, of course, by the time my kids were older, I realized my pompous attitude was based on simple ignorance. I wanted to do nothing but whimper an apology for ever trying to tell this woman – who somehow managed to raise nine healthy children and keep her sanity – what she might’ve done wrong!

When I was in the process of getting divorced and was unable to keep up the payments on my land here on Beaver Island, I was served with foreclosure papers. I countered with a twenty-six page tirade to the man who held the land contract about his shoddy plumbing, poor book-keeping and inability to get me a working well. He called me right up when he received it. “Christ, Cindy, you sent me a whole book!” he said, “I could send it off to the lawyer, but even though she’s my daughter, she’s still gonna charge by the hour to read it…”

Last weekend, when an unfortunate encounter at work left me feeling sad and frustrated, I wrote it out.

Here.

On my blog.

Without a single thought besides venting my hurt feelings.

Of course, I assumed it would be read…by the forty-seven people that subscribe to my blog, up to a half-dozen family members that look in on occasion, and four or five Beaver Islanders that read what I write.

I watch the statistics. On the day I publish, I get my peak readership with about 25 hits. Over the next few days, a few others check in, less and less each day until I publish the next post; then it jumps up again. A nice little wave.

This particular post evidently struck a chord with many people. It was shared and copied and re-printed. It was read by people from a dozen countries on five continents. It may have been read by every single person living on Beaver Island! My statistics chart changed from measuring by tens, to measuring by hundreds of hits. I heard from former in-laws and old friends, from servers and chefs and restaurant owners, and from people in other areas of the service industry. Many told of similar encounters that left them feeling bitter. I was shocked at how many people jumped to my defense. I was amazed and overwhelmed at the understanding, the sympathy and the support.

Usually when I go on a rant about my own hurt feelings, I’m thinking primarily about myself. That was the case in this instance, as well.

I didn’t think about every Beaver Islander reading it, and drawing conclusions about who I was referring to. I certainly never considered repercussions for him, or the fact that I might hurt his feelings.

I should have.

I bear no animosity toward “Harry”. I was “over it” the moment I hit “publish”. I have since received an apology from him. I countered with my own explanation and apology, for any discomfort I caused him. I hope we can all move on, perhaps all with a bit more awareness and consideration.

The next time I go on a rant, I think I’m going to tackle World Peace!

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21 responses »

  1. We all need a good rant once in awhile. And Although you may have hurt Harry’s feelings. In turn you were very hurt also, obviously or you wouldn’t have needed to rant. I just hope that the other Harry’s of the world come to their senses too. It’s awesome to hear you guys made your peace and maybe he was having a bad day too and hopefully will think twice before trying to prove a point in a super cruel way. What he did was over the top. Every server I know has encountered people like this and some girls truly have breakdowns over the cruelty from total strangers. All I ask is even if you are having a bad day when you see a server busting her back side and your food is still served hot and promptly at least thank her for it!!! I never realized how many people don’t say please and thank you. I’m not talking about children I’m talking about adults,which then spreads to their children. And then I think wow,no wonder people think my kids are so great. I taught them manners,something a lot of people lack in this world.Honestly, One rude customer can wreck my whole night and just make everything go down hill from there. And sometimes I wonder,,was that their goal?

  2. I agree completely! It’s hard to continue doing your job, smiling and being flip, when someone has just said or done something hurtful. That’s part of the insult, that it stops you from being able to do your job as well as you know you can. It is humiliating to be fighting tears in public. I don’t think I said anything that I should take back (other than maybe the “big asshole part), but if I expect kindness and consideration from others – which I do – I just want to make sure I’m treating others with the same courtesy. I love hearing from you, Kristy; thanks so much for reading!

  3. Again, Cindy, an energizing read. I once remember asking Bill if I “had a right to refuse service to anyone?”. He said “Not if you’re working for me, Pickle.” I’m sure “Harry” wasn’t your first, nor will he be your last “asshole”, but he will certainly never be forgotten.

  4. Cindy, I think that most of us have been in similar circumstances related to your previous post about restaurant work in general, AND we all can empathize with some of the behaviors that you described. Just want you to know that the reason it was shared by so many people was because of your wonderful ability to put your heart and soul into your writing. Personally, I look forward to reading your blog, and the restaurant post got me started.

    • This topic obviously resonated with many people in the service industry. That suggests that this type of behavior is not uncommon. That is sad, and it harms a group of workers who are already demeaned by their jobs and/or circumstances. It’s a shame that we can’t look beyond “station” and seek out the good hearts and souls of the people we encounter. Obviously it’s possible: I have waited on people who I was absolutely in awe of because of their fame or position, that treated me with kindness and equality throughout. Thanks so much for reading, Joe, and for your comments.

  5. I am sorry for laughing just a tiny bit, Cindy. Oh no–half of Beaver Island reading your post! Hurt feelings bared to larger than your usual readers. I can almost feel your chagrin. Luckily most people in Baraga County don’t read my posts, which sometimes bothers me and probably is a darned good thing in the long run. I am glad you received an apology. I am also glad that you brought this issue into the larger light–even though you were just sharing hurt feelings. Because the Universe can use our hurt feelings sometimes to shine a larger light. Love, Kathy

  6. Again Cindy—well done! We ALL need to take accountability for our words and actions and I believe you may have brought that reality back to life for a lot of people–myself included. Love you!

  7. Cindy, I love this! First, I’ll jump to the happy ending. That’s exactly what I imagined happening. I thought, hmmmm, Beaver Island can’t be that big a place. I’ll bet everyone there has read it, and someone’s going to make sure that Harry does, too! The title is perfect. It gave me peace to read about his apology. And I loved reading about how you used writing to vent your feelings. I did/do that, too, and have cringed when I’ve come across some of those things years later! I always want to end my comments by telling you, “keep writing,” but I really don’t have to, do I? Thank you for another wonderful post!

    • Kate, I’m always happy and grateful to see that you’ve read my blog, and I always appreciate your generous comments. Yes, my boss sent a copy of my post to Harry; if he hadn’t, I would have had to myself. It felt unfair for so many people to be reading it and forming judgments without his knowledge. I’m relieved that it’s over, and that I can move on!

  8. Cindy- I loved reading your blog, this particular one I forwarded to Jim’s (my significant other) daughter who is now managing the Cabbage Shed in Elberta. We get our share of assholes here, too. Thanks for sharing. Abby

  9. Peace is a good thing. However, I believe you can’t find peace if you have inner angst or turmoil. One very effective way to rid yourself of that is through venting. I think a blog is a wonderful place to do that.

    I hope you and Harry can move on from that uncomfortable day. Good luck, and know there are many of us who will give you as much space as you need to vent, grieve, or celebrate the things in your life. 🙂

    • Thanks, Sara. I do need to vent on occasion, that’s true. I usually hold it in until, by the time I speak out, I’m a bit over the top. I never feel good about hurting other people’s feelings, though. I feel that if I could develop a bit more ability to simply stand up for myself, i could save myself days of misery, then a blow-out, then whatever repercussions that brings. But, we are all works in progress…
      Thanks for your always encouraging comments!

  10. My Mom’s advice was patterned after Jimmy Durante’s song to “say it with flowers, say it with mink, but whatever you do … don’t say it with ‘ink.'” (something like that).

    When you’re mad, write it down, put it aside 24 to 48 hours, then re-read. If you still feel the same, then hit ‘publish.’ I hope you and “Harry” can mend fences. Life is a learning curve.

    • Yes, Harry and I are doing fine. I’ll be more careful about what I publish in the future, and I hope he’ll be more thoughtful about how he treats others. Good advice from your Mom!

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