Monday, June 4, 2012

Bad behavior and the grace of silence

For a few weeks, I knew I needed to write a new post but didn't have anything that compelled me until I reflected on some recent events that all had a similar theme - bad behavior. I began to ponder why my fellow beings act so often in a manner befitting ownership of  the shirt below
 
I recently attended one of my favorite wine festivals.  It’s been my harbinger of summer for the last 4 years. Always a great gurlfriends' getaway and my first (and sometimes only) chance to encounter my favorite vintner, Heritage Wines, whose vines and tanks are situated 5 hours away on Lake Erie. This year due to scheduling and general busyness on my part, I decided to forgo the friend fueled tasting but was hell-bent on getting my share of some of that mighty fine Sangria.  So I made the requisite pit stop and when I arrived home ready to unwind and imbibe liquid bliss, I discovered to my horror, I had been given 4 bottles of Strawberry wine instead of my beloved Sangria. I started to hyperventilate right on the spot then realized that the fest was not yet over, thus giving me a chance to correct this egregious error.  So on the 2nd day, VBG trekked the 40 minutes back to complete an exchange. I approached big hat wearing Gate-man to explain why I was bringing wine into a wine fest since that was counter-intuitive to the mission of the festival, right? Gate-man asked for a receipt and I complied. Then he asked if they (Heritage) knew of the mistake and I responded “how would I let them know that?" I had looked both on the Taste of PA site as well as Heritage Wine site prior to my arrival and reasoned it would be easier just to go back and explain than spend my Sunday making a bunch of calls only to be told to do just that (return and exchange the bottles). However my response clearly rubbed Gate-man the wrong way because he proceeded to go off YELLING at me and saying I'd insinuated things I hadn’t said or even thought. Despite my growing frustration, I stayed pretty calm cause this hat-wearing ass scared me a little - he cut an imposing figure but more importantly he was standing between me and nearly half a dozen bottles of my very favorite wine. After holding me aside for some minutes to let others who were waiting to get in (and witnessing this exchange) he told me “go on to Heritage, I have more respect for them anyway”.  Now, I get that people have bad days, moods or lots in life (hell on the right day I'll admit to all of those though I'd be lying...really) but that's no reason to get personal and feign disrespect. First off I didn't give a flying f-ck what his feelings were toward me, I wasn't there to foster any kind of relationship with anything but wine certainly not jerks wearing big ass hats who get off on yelling at chicks. The guys at Heritage (on the other hand) were absolute sweethearts – they acknowledged the error, apologized numerous times and even gave me an extra bottle for my inconvenience. And that’s how things should have been handled at the gate – I wasn't asking Gate-man to solve my problem.  I needed him only to facilitate my entry and nothing more. Now I am certain if I had been accompanied by a man, Gate-man would have tempered his comments because both his tone and words were more than enough to piss of any guy. I also wondered since I live in Smallville PA whether that exchange would have happened if I were of the Caucasian persuasion.  I related in my last post, how I think far too many of my "neighbors" and I use that term loosely feel about "us".  As brave as I have been known to carry myself, I walked away from the exchange shaken and totally humiliated. When I got to my car I cried for 15 minutes and I don't cry easily. Once I got home, I did indeed email the organizers of the festival to make them aware of the incident but sadly to date (more than 2 weeks later) I still have no reasonable explanation nor apology for the incident. So guess where I won't be returning next May....Taste of PA Wine Fest in York.
Need another example of freaking obnoxious behavior - do you know who Bruno Iksil is? Well you should because his shenanigans are more likely to have repercussions in your life than anything those Kardashians get into.  JP Morgan Chase will vouch for that. They call him the London Whale.  He's their employee, a trader who lost nearly $3 billion on risky trades earlier this year. That's 9 effin zeros before the decimal point!! The problem with his behavior was he worked for a bank that partook of the TARP funds which helped rescue those banks that were too big to fail during the peak of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Those TARP funds were taxpayer dollars - our gubment money. Yet knowing they are too big to fail and thus assured a bail-out if they get into trouble, banks seem to be up to their old tricks - sticking it to the little guys in fees while compensating execs and mavericks with unfathomable sums. What truly sticks in my craw is that the London Whale is reputed to have pocketed a $100 million dollar bonus prior to being found out - WTF?? I hope somebody's talking to their lawyers about getting their ducats back and throwing his sorry ass in jail.  Clearly the JP Morgan Chase code of ethics lacks any knowledge ofthe following "Ethical behavior is doing the right thing when no one else is watching- even when doing the wrong thing is legal.”
Will some body in this country tell the truth - from telephone companies to tire resellers to politicians no seems willing to give a straight answer. Whether they are promising you an unbelievable  deal - like$29.99 a month, $49.99 for a tire or promising not to increase when taxes when that too is inevitable.  I tell my daughter all the time that things are so much easier to deal with when presented truthfully.  If you sugar coat and omit things it only make the inevitable harder to plan for and accept.  When you sell me a tire - you know damn well I can do nothing with it if it's not inflated, balanced and given valve stems so why not just include that in the price?  No matter how much it hates to hear it NO politician, NO politician can guarantee that taxes will not have to be increased - they don't have crystal balls.  But perhaps the current trend of indicting folks who lie to grand juries while overkill, just might force more folks will to think before they speak.  
And then there are those family encounters that have the potential to inflict much more damage than any stranger encounters ever could.  The very thing you want to do - sever that limb from the family tree is also likely the one you can not. Recently I had one such family incident that was more infuriating than damaging but definitely recurrent bout of bad behavior. I struggled with whether to recount it here in hopes of maintaining my authenticity, that's why this post is just appearing though it happened more than a month ago. In the end, I decided that it's inclusion would do little to correct the behavior as it would likely go unread nor recognized by the offender but more importantly (in this case) ran the risk of making a what should be a neutral party squirm a bit.  Suffice it to say my time/attention/service will not be so willing offered in that direction in the future. But that encounter also made me remember that I too  am at times lacking in the consideration and patient with those close to me and random.  In fact lately, I feel like I get into verbal combat with my dear wunderkind quite a bit. I'm the adult, it's my house and I said so dammit!  that should be enough but of course it's rarely that simple.
Too often when we are subjected to rude, selfish or obnoxious behavior we allow our heads to cool (rightly) and after that we figure it's not worth the trouble/anxiety to bring it up again or push back.  But I disagree, sometimes keeping silent just perpetuates this kind of behavior. Introspection is a gift not every one possesses - so some of us, many of us, including VBG, need to be called on our crappy behavior sometimes.  If it goes unchecked then those exhibiting these behaviors feel justified in their actions and will continue.  This post is as much a reminder for me as it is for anyone reading that as much as we'd like to think otherwise the world doesn't revolve around any one -not the London Whale, Senator Anyman, my relatives, nor me and my blog.  So we'd all do well to pray for and show a bit more of God's grace than we sometimes receive and also remember
 

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