I never expect people to be rude. Never. And thus, I'm never prepared for it and I do a terrible job at reacting properly. I'm polite to the Nth degree. It's ingrained and my default mode. Can't help it - though sometimes I wish I could. Like for instance, just about two weeks ago...
I'd been invited to participate in a panel at a conference in downtown Chicago and, rather than drive, I decided to take the train. In the crowded station that morning, I ran into a male friend, a gregarious guy who used to be part of the writing group I belonged to. Let's call him Fred. Fred's warm, funny, and genuinely nice. My husband really likes him, too and we're hoping to all get out to dinner soon together. All good, right?
Well, as Fred and I chatted, I encountered someone else I knew. She's mom to a couple of my daughters' friends, and she and her husband have always seemed like nice people. We have a friendly (or so I thought) relationship.
She stood and gave me the "Aren't you going to introduce me?" look after sizing up my male companion. I did, referring to him as "a friend." She started asking questions about where I was headed and why I was taking the train today. Honestly, from the glint in her eye and the smirk on her face, I think she thought that Fred and I were on our way to some sordid tryst. When I explained that I was appearing on a panel at a conference, she wrinkled her nose and said, "Oh, so you're still doing that writing thing, huh?" -- this accompanied by dismissive finger wiggling. Like tickling the air. Hard to explain, but it felt dismissive.
|This is the wonderful quilt Dru Ann Love |
made for me to commemorate
my first appearance on the
New York Times Bestseller list!
Isn't it gorgeous?
At that point Fred -- who looked as flabbergasted as I felt -- rose up to become my knight in shining armor. I can't remember his exact words, but he pretty much told her off (nicely) as he expounded on my writing career and cataloged my successes, including hitting the New York Times. (See photo --->)
She hurried to backpedal, insisting she hadn't meant anything by it and claiming that she respected what I've accomplished. But don't we all know better? Yeah, we do.
When the train came, she went one way, Fred and I went the other. On the train, I thanked Fred, but over the next few days I couldn't help but wonder why I didn't (and don't) generally stand up for myself.
Anybody else out there have this problem?