Dear Bitter Butch,
I am so fucking annoyed this month and I’d like to stop. I mean, people are annoying, don’t get me wrong, but I have a life to live and I don’t have time to spend on being cranky. Here is an example: one person in our office persists in saving all the paper goods that come with our office lunches: the plastic forks, knives, spoons, napkins, paper cups, sugar packets, etc. The cabinets in our kitchen are overflowing. Even though I just go right in and clean out the cabinets when I feel like it, I still kind of seethe. I could be spending that time re-watching Viola Davis’s Emmy speech! More important, I think it actually makes it harder for me to enjoy spending time with imperfect people, aka my friends and loved ones. Please help.
P.S. I meditate daily, work out 4-6 times a week, and have a good job and a good family.
Seeking Tolerance (Mine)
Have you ever tried just milking the seething?
I know I know I know. You have clearly put lots and lots and lots and lots of energy into being a calm person.
I can guess why — some people (aherm; some people in this very room) would never notice that someone else was absentmindedly and thoughtlessly piling crap in the cabinets.
But you are the type of person who notices things. And you are also the type of person who needs to do something about what you notice.
I know you don’t want to waste time on the shit that annoys you. Thus the daily meditation and the regular working out — which we all SHOULD do, but so few of us do. The fact that you actually do it tells me you’ve got more than the usual AnnoyanceMonsters to keep at bay.
What if you danced with the monster a bit?
What if you collected all the crap this person (who has his/her own reasons for hoarding, I’m thinking– that this might force him/her to think about) crammed in the cabinets, and tied it up in a bag, and left it angrily on their desk with an angry note?
You are probably too grown up to do that; your version of this might be to take a lot of time to carefully craft the perfect email to the office reminding people that when they do crap like this other people clean up after them. You could fill it with bile and frustration and rage and sand off the edges, really get into lovingly crafting a cutting, frozen honey epistle that is deeply satisfying in its crowning glory of rage and impotence masked in polite officespeak.
I don’t know. I’m grasping at straws, here. But it seems to me that expecting yourself to never be caught up in petty bullshit so that you can be loving and forgiving with your probably equally irritating family and friends is an awfully high bar to put up for yourself. It’s a pressure all of its own, this aiming for genuine high-mindedness.
If it comes naturally to some people, great! Let them cruise through their lives, trailing paper napkins and salt packets serenely in their wake, uncaring, meditative, calm. Let us envy them for a moment. But being like them sounds beyond you — and I, for one, think you should very very very much enjoy letting the damn soy sauce packet stacker really have it.
Let the cleansing fire of righteous rage over how fucking irritating that is burn through you clear and bright. Maybe you’ll go home and the third time your child completely ignores your suggestion to go brush her teeth you’ll feel calmer. Maybe you’ll feel more annoyed and yell at her FIRST THE SPORKS AND NOW THIS!!!!
But you’ll never know unless you try.
BITTER BUTCH aka Haddayr Copley-Woods is a queer, a cripple, a nerd, a mom to two kids with neurological differences, and has a truckload of opinions on everything including sex and relationships, parenting, disability issues, family relationships, work dynamics, gender/sexuality issues, and etiquette. You can reach her with all your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Post image via Shutterstock]
Originally published Dec. 2015