Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Recipe for disaster?

- A decision that I need to be more assertive in life.
- A pet hate of bullies, or being bullied in any shape or form.
- A high level of irritibility
- A percieved bully
Mix together on a dark, cold winter morning when caffeine levels are particularly low in a commuter train.
Stand well clear.

Some years back a friend of mine insinuated that I have a 'weak' character. I believe her exact words to me were, "I am much stronger than you." Knowing her as I did, I decided against arguing with her at the time, for a few reasons. You see, I knew nothing I said would change her opinion so I figured it would be a waste of energy to push the point. I don't like arguing with people like that. I don't like arguing, period. In my heart, I felt she was wrong and that it takes a different kind of strength to ignore silly disputes, not make issues out of them, and just say ,"Yeah, whatever" and move on. I felt I was right. But perhaps she saw that aspect of my personality - staying silent instead of arguing - as weakness. Who knows?
The trouble is, a few years down the line, it has come to my attention that it is not always in my best interests to avoid confrontation and conflict at all costs. Over the years, continually keeping quiet about things has caused a certain amount of internal conflict and, I suppose, a fair bit of anger to build up. It's not healthy to keep it all in, all the time. This is something I am trying to work on... being more assertive - not necessarily aggressive, mind you - but just making myself heard... so as to avoid the volcano effect, where one day I end up completely blowing my top due to a major shift far beneath the surface, y'know?

Don't ask me how, but I am aware that this ties in somehow with my intense dislike of bullies. Nothing annoys me more than people who force themselves or their opinions on other people. In the same way a Staffordshire Terrier has no concept of size and will tackle the biggest dog around in the course of defending what they see as their domain, there have been times when I have stood up to people twice my size when they have tried to bully me or anyone I care about. Oddly enough, bullies normally back down immediately if you stand up to them.

This is my belief.

So, fast forward to this morning;
It was dark;
It was freezing cold (literally ... 1 below zero when I left home to walk to the train);
My irritation levels had started going up yesterday already, partly due to hormones, I'm sure, and partly due to people like the blonde bimbette who started yesterday morning off by pushing in front of me in the queue for tickets. Yes, I know - get over it, right?
Only, the trouble is, once the irritation levels start to rise, they tend to increase exponentially with every minor annoyance that crosses my path. I'm sure at least some of you know what I'm talking about.

Back to this morning on the train...
I was as comfortable as I could be in my seat next to the window, half-dozing as I listened to my MP3 player. A girl sat down opposite me, and her boyfriend plonked himself on the seat next to me. A large lad, he then proceeded to bump me a few times as he shoved his hands into his jacket pockets... which of course made him expand sideways even further.
And suddenly I wasn't comfortable anymore.

The man was In My Space.
I pushed myself as far into the corner by the window as possible, but I still couldn't sit back in my seat without feeling him rubbing against my shoulder.
Hoping to drop the hint that he was crowding me, I shot him a dirty look or two.
No dice.

You know that feeling when something annoys you, and the more you think about it the more your blood begins to boil, and you find you're clenching your jaw and your heart starts beating faster and you hear a rushing noise in your ears and you realise you're Getting Really Angry Now...?
Well, I do, and I did.
At which point something inside my head decided in its infinite wisdom that what this neanderthol was doing was in fact a form of bullying.
This guy thought that just because he was bigger than me, he could do what he liked and push me out of my space.

Hence, the recipe for disaster was born.

Actually, I thought I was quite polite, all things considered.
I yanked the earphone out of my ear and asked him if he'd like to swap seats, that way he could sit opposite his girlfriend and quit squashing me against the window. The way I saw it, I would then have an aisle seat which would leave me more room to move and he'd be able to see her more clearly, or whatever.
But of course the dumb asshole took offense and said something like,
"Oh if I was squashin' ya against da winda' ya'd know about it, I promise ya!"

Er, does that sound like a threat to you?
'Cos it did to me.

Now, I'd like to tell you how I felled him with one swift, well-placed blow, but I would, in fact, be lying.

As tempting as it was [I actually had one of those "Ally McBeal" moments where I visualised myself beating his head to a pulp with my bare hands], I did the prudent thing instead, and as calmly as I could I just explained my reasoning again.
[Also, I had realised by then that he was probably about 6'4" and not exactly a weenie, despite the glasses]

You know, I got the distinct impression he was pissed off - in fairness, I probably would have been if I were in his place, but I really did feel justified - but I also felt in my gut that he was trying to intimidate me for speaking my mind in public. Only, it didn't work. I don't get intimidated by bullies, I get angry.

Nonetheless, that was where it ended. [sigh]
He declined my kind offer, muttering that he was getting off in a few minutes anyway.
I don't know if he heard me say, "Good!" because I stuffed my earphone back in my ear and spent the rest of the journey staring out the window, looking stern and pissed off.

And for all his objections, he shifted slightly and I felt not a nudge from him again.
The person who took his place after he left perched on the edge of the seat, as far away from me as possible.
In hindsight, it was actually quite funny because you could almost feel the other people in the carriage shrinking into their seats, trying to get as far away from a Potential Incident as possible.

So okay, this was probably not the best or most subtle way for me to begin asserting myself, but I gotta tellya, I felt better for having said something, however inappropriate or misguided you or he or anyone else may think I was.
So there... Get over it!


beadinggalinMS said...

Terrimanator! She takes no crap from bullies!!!

jason evans said...

Bless you. The fools on public transportation need lessons on a whole host of manners. Too few people let them know. (Funny how there is a 1 to 1 relationship between doing something offensive and taking offense when it's pointed out. The proper response should be embarassment and apology. Folks like that, however, tend not be offensive in the first place.)

Mom said...

I can't imagine where you got your former non-confrontational attitude from, but believe me, this attitude weakens with maturity. Wish I'd been a fly on the wall there - although I would probably have been squashed then! Hee, Hee!

ChittyChittyBangBang! said...

Good on you for standing up for yourself, Terri.
I am one of those ppl who opens my mouth to object no matter what the odds are.
It got me into lots of trouble, but I sleep soundly at night and suffer very little stress.
Bullies are just that... BULLIES... and when you take that away from them, there is nothing else left.

BUDDESS said...

Way to go Terri!! The Termeister is becoming a bullyminator. He will think twice before sitting almost on top of you again!! I can't stand bullies. They are people of weak character and Chitty is right, without all the bullyshit, they are nothing.

Terri said...

beadinggalinMS - Oh yeah, that's me, Big Scary Terri :-P

Jason - I like the way you think - please come again :-)

Mom - uh, ja, can't imagine... If you had been a fly on the wall you probably would've fallen off laughing, hehe!

Chitty - Yes, we know. Where do you think I get my inspiration from ;-)

Buddess - "Bullyshit" hahaha!

Ben O. said...

Terri, I wholeheartedly apologize for everything I have ever said that might have in any way even come close to upsetting you. I acknowledge to the public that I am afraid of you and will always from here on out treat you with the utmost kindness and respect.


What song were you listing to? You need to put some Metal on there and then you might just kick butt the next time some dude pushes you around.

Ben O.

Terri said...

LOL! Ben, you're gonna love this - I was listening to U2's How to make an atomic bomb album :-D

Underachiever said...

Terrorizing Ter:

You look so cute when you're about to kick some major butt!

Undr(afraid,and infatuated, but mostly afraid)

PS Love ya terror terri!

LiVEwiRe said...

That wasn't an Ally McBeal moment... you really DID kick his ass didn't you! Woohoo! Sometimes it's justified, what can I say... =)

kyknoord said...

This could have been the first reported incident of 'train rage'. Quite the trendsetter, you are.

Terri said...

Undr - aw don't be afraid, I promise I won't hurt you {mwahahahaha}!

LiVEwIRe - as usual, you can see right through me ;-)

Kyknoord - u-huh, follow me - I'll make you famous (one way or another!) I can just see the headlines: Train Rage Cult Is On Track To Cause Havoc WorldWide

Lori said...

I luv that train rage! I have bicycle rage all the time. Way to go next time I will let you borrow my plastic chair they are great for beating up bullies.

Terri said...

Lori - Why thank you, sweetie, you're very kind! Do those chairs come in a fold-up model that I can fit in my handbag along with my collapsable umbrella?