Saturday, June 14, 2008

Kick me with your best shot

Now I would like to think that I am a kind person. A nice person. I smile a lot. And lately I’m getting kicked in the teeth for my goodness.

Chapter 1. The other day was our 18th wedding anniversary. Yea. He’s going to heaven, he’s married to me. We went out to eat to celebrate. As we are leaving I see a mom that I know come in with her three kids. We go over to say hi, I tell them about the anniversary celebration and then ask where her husband is. Now truth be told this woman isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer so it didn’t surprise me when she said, “He’s not with us.” Duh. “I know he’s not with you,” I said. “Is he out of town working?” Now I see the kid’s eyes darting from me to their mom. “Umm, no,” she says. Then, smoothly I’m sure, I ask the kids about their summer.

We leave there and go to the store to get milk, I know, so romantic. I see another friend in the parking lot and ask if there is anything going on with the family we just left. “Ah, yeah!” she says, in a where-the-hell-have-you-been tone. The dread builds. “He walked out on them around spring break.” Nice.

I am mortified. Hubby says, “Well, good thing you told them all about our anniversary!” Now what? Does she think that I knew everything and was being cruel? Does she think that, as I contend, that I’m not a gossip monger and made my innocent mistake while trying to be pleasant? Do I share space with her in the knife drawer?

Chapter two. The next day I get a call from the parking lot informer asking if my oldest son can watch her two kiddos. He isn’t available but I, of course, volunteer figuring that she needs some quality time alone with her hubby. I shuffle her two kids and my remaining two off to a fun filled game of basketball. Afterwards I check if my friend and her hubby are back home and then drop off their boys. “Hey, how was it? You guys have a great time?” They looked confused and mumbled something as I pulled away. At home I ask Hubby what they were doing while I watched their kids. “I don’t know. I just heard something like- a brother, jail, courthouse, official filing. Something like that.” Again, nice.

The final chapter. Right before a staff meeting for the paper I write for I ran into a friend at Starbucks. We talked for a bit and he mentioned the fabulous girl that sells advertising for us. “She is great. I would hire her for our company in a red hot minute.” Well, I think, what a nice thing to say.

Now maybe it is because I think my children are hellions and I love it when another parent tells me a story about something sweet and nice the boys pulled off. Whenever I see a kid moment above and beyond I usually let the mom know. Last year at the school book fair I saw these two second graders holding a copy of The Book Thief. While thinking that a story about the holocaust was a bit heavy for them I overheard them discussing how they could pool their money together and purchase it for their teacher. Calls all around.

In that spirit as the meeting started I quip to the staff AND my boss, “Hey, you better make sure you pay her enough. I know someone that would hire her in a heartbeat.”
Evidently this is a bad thing to do in the business world. My gesture of trying to be nice was in reality the epitome of encouraging employee poaching. My bad, but what do you expect from a woman who has proudly never worked in a cubical. My boss called the next day to express his disapproval, I explained my motives, we kissed and made up.

How to proceed from here? Should I just be a stark raving bitch? It works for a bunch of women I know. They are excused by the lame reasoning, “Oh, that’s just the way she is” or my personal favorite “She’s really shy.” Uh, no she’s not. She’s a bitch.

And what of being what I define as nice? Is it construed as my being a big suck up? That I mindlessly chatter? Or as one particularly mean person told me after I said that he had a beautiful family, “It must be nice being an actress. You can lie to people all the time.” He said this before church by the by.

I’ll be thinking about where to go from here but in the meantime; Smile big Linda.

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