Thursday, September 08, 2005

Slow to Anger, but...

For a couple years I was the store manager at a Borders, and the most troublesome employee I dealt with was a strange incompetent named Dr. Jones (and being the most troublesome out of that crew of deliquents and misfits is saying a lot). I'd go through the laborious paperwork necessary to get ready to fire him, and he'd go on medical leave, his Final Warning would expire, and then he'd mysteriously get well again and we'd start from scratch with detailed documentation of his bumbling ineptitude. Then he sued the company which further complicated things, but the guy needed to go! One day I caught him in a major CYA falsehood after finally getting him back to Final Warning status, and Dr. Jones received the most potent dressing-down I ever gave an employee--and I fired three staff and one assistant manager in my days as GM, and participated in at least a half-dozen other terminations as AM. I still remember him sitting across my desk, slumped forward, those beady little eyes darting around and looking everywhere but at me. Then he kind of laughed, had a moment of clarity, leaned back, stroked his chin, and said:

"A bear."

Me: "Excuse me?"

"You're like a bear. You hibernate most of the time but if someone keeps poking at you and stealing your honey then there's this power, this energy, a forceful rage. I'm sorry I provoked it."

Dr. Jones had a strange New Age-iness about him. One time he drew up a bizarre proposal to teach customer service skills using the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. His take on my temper, however, was very precise. It does take a lot to make me angry, and when I do get angry I tend to be narrow-minded and focused on payback.

Yesterday Mommie Dearest sent me another in a long string of right-wing screeds about Katrina; this one suggested that welfare was to blame, and welfare recipients in particular, for the devestation in New Orleans. After a week of this shite I couldn't take it any more, and Mommie Dearest and I had a major email row during which I called into question her critical thinking skills, her comprehension of written words, her Christianity, and I pointed out what I think of as her inexcusable gullibility. Do I like being angry at my mother and arguing about politics with her? No, but she'd poked me too many times, to borrow Dr. Jones' metaphor.

Mommie Dearest and I disagree about everything; she's the sort who could witness George W. Bush sucking the blood out of a newborn and she'd find a way to justify it. But a project arose that stopped our fussin' and a-feudin': my Sis had just bought a patch of land she intends to build on some day. On the land are two mobile homes she intended to rent out to finance this investment, but she's valiantly decided to allow evacuees to live in them for free for a few months while they get re-settled. Cha and I are going to help pay the utilities and mortgage in the meantime and Mommie Dearest is working to get the trailers cleaned out and furnished and is doing a lot of legwork co-ordinating with relief agencies and churches to find a family or two in need and get them on their feet. Because this project has developed all of our acrimony vanished in a heartbeat.

I'd like to think this is a microcosm of our current political situation. Not that I think Bush doesn't deserve to be thrown out on his ear (I do, and thought so even before last week's fiascos), but if Mommie Dearest and I can shut up and work together now, anyone can.