Thursday, February 05, 2009

Aggressive Ann-Marie

Well, Monday will find me baking YJBLOCCC. That’s right, Brett will be able to console himself with a platter of You’ve Just Been Laid Off Chocolate Chip Cookies.

We received the news on Wednesday. This Friday will be Brett’s last day of working for Cadbury-Adams (through Furst Temporary Agency) for at least 30 to 90 days.

Strangely, there are several upsides to this situation.

For one thing, as of Friday, we won’t have a second vehicle. So, now we don’t have to scramble to try to find Brett a car. We can share mine while he’s off.

Secondly, Furst has promised to try to place him with a job as soon as possible. So, hopefully the 90 day scenario won’t become a reality.

To be honest, I think Brett’s a little relieved some of the pressure is off about the car. It has really been stressing him out. Last night he referred to his job loss as “God’s Little Breather.”

I am trying to be as compassionate as possible. I’m finding it more difficult than usual, since pregnancy has stolen my niceness gene.

Pre-pregnancy, I was about as nice as an Italian Ice on a hot day. I hate to face it sometimes, because it can be a hassle, but I‘m just not very aggressive (in person that is, in writing I can be wicked aggressive).

I’m the kind of person who won’t yell or scream or even politely tap you on the shoulder if you cut in front of me in the check-out lane. I don’t get red-faced and angry at every teenager who cuts me off in traffic. If I don’t know you, I’m willing to cut you a lot of slack, even if you’re a little standoffish to me.

As with all of us, I’m a little more demanding of my expectations of family and friends. Although, I hope some of you feel I am a caring and thoughtful friend. I tend to let the little things slide and try to focus on the big picture.

Now that I’m pregnant and hopped up on hormones, I seem to have misplaced my niceness gene.

I think part of this is because seeing a pregnant woman tends to bring out what’s-the-rudest-thing-I-can-say in some people.

For instance, the other day someone told me when she was pregnant “…from behind you couldn’t even tell. I still looked like a size six.”

Now, would you say that to a woman who is buying 2X maternity clothes at 15 weeks? And expect not to get slugged?

The thing is…I don’t mind people “relating” about pregnancy. It’s just that there is a right and wrong way to do it.

Take morning sickness, for example.

I have excessive, nasty, consistent morning sickness. Several people have said the right thing. If they had morning sickness while they were pregnant they say, “Oh, I had morning sickness when I was pregnant. It’s horrible, isn’t it?”

Even if they didn’t have it, they can say, “Oh, I was fortunate not to have it! I hear it’s pretty awful.”

An example of what NOT to say (taken from personal experience) is, “Oh, yes, but after you’re sick you feel so much better!”

I point-blank said, “Well, maybe you did. My stomach’s still riding Space Mountain.”

Another person told me how she completed a marathon while she was pregnant. “Really?” I commented sarcastically. “If I get up too fast to pick up the laundry basket, I vomit. So it’s sort of the same thing.”

Short of it is…don’t brag about all the mighty things you did when you were pregnant. It just makes other pregnant people despise you.

Commiserate? Sure!

Back to my transformation to queen of mean, several of my co-workers have been, shall we say, less than understanding of the limitations pregnancy puts on my productivity.

I’ve struggled to juggle newsletter deadlines while missing work due to morning sickness and ferrying myself to dozens of doctor appointments. I was pretty proud of how I was keeping up.

That is, until I overheard a few cantankerous co-workers joking in the hallway. “Let’s just stop putting a date on the newsletter. Let’s just put ‘Whenever Ann-Marie feels like it!’” Then they cackled like a pack of crows picking over a corpse.

Normally, I would have felt bad and shrugged it off.

Instead, I found myself surging to my feet, anger coursing through my veins like methamphetamines. Foul words filled my mouth as I took steady steps toward my detractors. It was only as I reached the door of my office, my self-control seemed to return. I blundered, still heady with rage, back to my chair.

I actually had to take several deep breaths and pray before I felt like myself again.

The other day, Brett and I were in a sold-out movie. We ended up seated next to a man who apparently marinates himself in cigarette smoke in his spare time. I’m not kidding. You could practically see the nicotine teaming through his pores.

Now, normally, I try (I really do) to be understanding toward smokers. I understand it is an addiction. And addictions aren’t easy to kick. If they were, I’d be a size 6 myself.

There are several smokers in my circle of friends and family, along with some in Brett’s family. We try to be supportive of those trying to quit, and thoughtful of those who make the personal choice not to quit.

Personally, I don’t believe constant harassment has ever induced anyone to quit. If anything, it seems to make people more resolved to keep smoking. It’s the old, “Tell me what to do, and I’ll do the opposite.” thing.

Thankfully, all of our smoking relatives are considerate people. They smoke outside and are careful not to let their habit become anyone else’s problem.

So, essentially, I don’t have a problem with smokers who confine their smoke to their homes or cars, or even outside places, provided they are far from other people.

But elbow-to-elbow with someone in a crowded, not well-ventilated movie theater is not “far away.”

I tried to reason the situation in my head. Technically, if we were unhappy with where we were sitting, we should be the ones to move. After all, Cancer Man was not smoking IN the theater (though he might as well have been, with the amount of second-hand smoke rising boldly from his body).

However, the movie was sold out, so there weren't any available seats.

I have to add that this man was also a pig. He was distributing popcorn like a spastic flower girl all over Brett’s shoes, and apparently trying to get the concrete to start growing grass with the copious amount of Coke sloshing over his jumbo cup.

This did not endear him to me any further.

I am not proud of what I did next. But I did warn you my niceness gene is trapped helpless behind a locked door somewhere while a wicked she-beast patrols the inner corridors of my mind.


Pointed stare at Cancer Pig Man.

Cancer Pig Man was no slouch. He turned to his wife, Cancer Pig Woman, and said, “I think that girl’s talking about me.”

Cancer Pig Man is a master of the obvious.

Short story long, Brett gallantly took the dreaded seat next to the Cancer Pig Couple and spent the movie leaning as far in the other direction as possible.

I ended up sitting next to a body-builder on a date who - while as large as a house - was a sweet as could be, and generously let me use his drink holder.

There are moments I am grateful to my new-found aggressiveness. I’m saying things I’ve always wanted to say. I’m letting my “No!” be no. I’m grateful the veneer of accepting bad behavior has been peeled back, and I can respond like those wonderfully assertive people I’ve always admired.

Eventually, I’m sure my normal personality will return, but until it does, I’m going to try to be as balanced as I possibly can between aggressive and assertive.

You got a problem with that?


Jennittia said...

I love it! Just the laugh I needed today!

So sorry about Brett's job-- you guys are in my prayers--daily!

Valorie said...

LOL! I really needed a laugh today! You are a gifted writer!

Still praying for you both.

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

"I‘m just not very aggressive (in person that is, in writing I can be wicked aggressive)." heh heh I can see that. ;-)

“If I get up too fast to pick up the laundry basket, I vomit. So it’s sort of the same thing.” This almost knocked me off my chair, laughing so hard!! Wow. I needed that. Thanks, girl!

And don't bet on that "normal personality" returning. God gives us mothers an inner She-Lion. We defend, become aggressive, and will do ANYTHING to protect our children. Cancer Pig Man may be in for even more aggressiveness if he comes near you with that baby in your arms. I'm more assertive (usually in a nice way) now than I ever was before kids.

Sun-Kissed Savages said...

And, by the way, whenever I feel stressed out I check your blog. Because even if you are writing about a job cut, rude coworkers, and a stinky sloppy guy, you make me laugh. You are like the eternal optimist, and I love that. It's truly a gift that God gave you. And, believe me, I'm not one of those "easy laugh people"-- for me, something REALLY has to be funny to get a good rip roarin' laughter going.
I'm praying for you guys, and I know that you will pull through!! You've just got it in you, and God is obviously at work! :-)

Heidi said...

When I was pregnant, I.... just kidding.
That is too funny.
Being next to smoker pig man, is like being next to the smoker at the gym using the elliptical machine. When they sweat, the smoke comes out with the sweat. It is almost enough to make you want to puke and I am not even pregnant.