The Slightly Meandering Tale Of How I Handle THOSE People
I just thought you all should know, I’m writing this from in front of my space heater. For some reason, (I’m pretty sure that reason’s name is Paul, also known as Daddy. Unless we’re mad at him, then it’s definitely Paul) our house feels colder inside than it is outside. I could turn the thermostat up, but then I forget and I wake up in the morning asking myself why the f*ck it’s so hot in the living room. Then I remember I messed with the thermostat yesterday, so I turn it back down and eat breakfast. Then I go lay under my heated blanket and watch tv.
Another benefit to writing in front of my heater is I really like to sit on the floor, and I can tuck my shoulder under my knee or sit criss cross style and lay down so my stomach is on my feet or another position that my physical therapist would be highly displeased to see me doing but they’re really comfortable and I get more done than if I was sitting at a desk like a normal human being. But we’re not here to talk about my weird contortionist habits.
We’re here to talk about my new job. After searching and waiting and lots of tedious applications, I was hired as a patient care tech/nurse’s aide at a hospital. I leave my house at 6am and get back between 7:30-8pm, which blows my mind because my shifts feel more like 4 hours than 12. It’s my favorite kind of work, which is organizing, detail focused, constantly moving and learning. There is no time to have an internal monologue about how you might screw this up because you do not have time to be scared or second guess; there are people who are depending on you to do this and do it now.
I’ve messed up more than a few times but have been reassured that “it’s all part of the learning process” by a great group of co-workers. Well, most of them are great. There is one not so great and I call him the Grinch. I call him the Grinch because he’s always grumpy and I’m sure there’s something out there that makes his heart grow three sizes but only the Whos of Whoville know what that is. Somehow, we got on the topic of politics and I responded in my typical completely filter-less way by saying “I’m a mentally ill and a touch disabled young woman and you haven’t already guessed who I voted for as president?” He looked highly confused.
Honestly, I wouldn’t have chosen to “come out” as mentally ill to a couple of my coworkers in my first week of work. But we had a slight. . . situation happen. To me it’s not that big of a deal because I’ve been having panic attacks my entire life and to me that’s quite normal (my brother described it as a fish not knowing what water is, check out this analogy here), but I understand they tend to unnerve a handful of people.
The Situation: The Grinch thought it would be a fun idea to sneak up behind me, grab my left arm and right shoulder so there was no escape, and say my name really loud and aggressive in my right ear. Instant panic attack. He followed it up with a question, but I have no idea what it was because grabbing and loud noises are two things I have never been okay with.
Confession: Usually I can hide my panic attacks, but it’s a lot of work and it didn’t happen in front of a patient. But my biggest reason for coming clean was I figured co-workers would probably figure it out sooner or later and finding out someone has way too much serotonin is better done while everyone is messing about in the hallway, not after a code or another draining event. I am one of the lucky ones who, after the inciting moment of terror passes, I am capable of rational thought and mostly pretty calm, except I look like I’m about to die.
How the Grinch Reacted: When you’ve done something to cause someone else to suddenly Not Be Okay™, you have a few options. The first is Oh-My-Gosh-Are-You-Okay-Is-There-Anything-I-Can-Do Then Make Yourself Scarce for a few hours and usually you’re forgiven because it was an accident. It happens. But the Grinch chose the option Full Asshole™. I glared at him, he laughed and walked away. While that is only a slightly prick-like thing to do and forgivable if you haven’t matured past the point of 7th grade, he didn’t stop there. When he was confronted by fellow coworkers and asked to please never do that again, he uttered the fatal words. The words that anyone who had ever experienced a panic attack hears and instantaneously decides that the utterer is forever and ever dead to them.
“She’s fine. She looks okay to me.”
Ah yes, the stereotypical okay look. Shaking, sweating, breathing like you’ve just run a marathon, and generally looking like you’re about to pass out. And that was the moment I decided the Grinch was not worth my time, my energy, or anything else I have to offer. Nor do I care what he thinks of me or his opinions on anything else in this world.
Had he apologized, or if he apologizes in the future (I’m a big believer that no apology is too late, there isn’t a time limit on forgiveness), I will of course revise my thoughts on the Grinch and probably give him a nicer nickname. But he has continued to use every opportunity to try to frighten me. I will continue to treat him with basic human respect (which includes not mentioning his nickname to his face or anyone else at work) because everyone has a right to that even if they are a massive d*ck. My abhorrence for his behavior does not mean that I get to act out or mistreat him in any way. Retaliation would only get us stuck in an infinite loop of violence and it would solve absolutely nothing.
If you have any of these people in your life, try to treat them with kindness and remember that they’re only acting this way because they had the unfortunate experience of a clown attending their birthday party.