Ahhh, this makes me chuckle. You see, I just got home from having a tire repair on my beloved, hard working, oh-so-dependable car. I’m so grateful for this car! That is a story for another day, but for today, let me tell you about the nail in my tire. Rather, let me tell you about the interaction with the person HELPING me fix the issue of HAVING a nail in my tire. This interaction, and MY reaction to it, is proof that growth is possible, recognizing ‘red flags’ and LISTENING to those red flags is possible, and to NOT react when we may have previously – IS possible. Red flags, indeed.
Big sigh…. Truly! Just take a deep breath in, hold it a few seconds, and let it out slowly, steadily, and get ready to take another breath. If I were not where I am today, I would not have recognized this person’s behavior for what it truly is, or what I suspect it is. Back then, in my blissfully (or so it seemed) ignorant days, I may have been charmed, captivated, and laughed right along with the conversation. I may have even felt ‘important’, or somehow special, that this person was sharing so many details about his life with me, and yes, in a car repair shop, during what should have been a quite short interaction. Today however, I have an ENTIRELY different perspective, and my realizations give me the willies. Skin crawling, hair on the back of my neck raised WILLIES. Gross. Let me explain…..
Picture it: Stark, blandly boring waiting room, old chairs with ripped ‘p-leather’ seat covers, a worn coffee table with some tattered magazines. No bother; I was early, wouldn’t be there long, and did enjoy watching the early morning news on the large flat screen t.v. bolted high above the chug chugging soda machine (why do vending machines always make so much noise?). The early morning news focused primarily on “Alberto”; the first named storm of the 2018 Hurricane season.
Not knowing my car was finished – because he DIDN’T TELL ME – I watched as one of the employees came in to grab a soda. After claiming his frosty beverage from the machine, he stood up, sauntered back a few steps quite casually, and proceeded to talk a bit about the storm. Hurricanes are a big deal around these parts, and to have a storm prior to the official start of Hurricane Season while not unheard of, does make us stand up and take notice. No issues, I thought we were just chatting about the weather. This person name dropped one of our more ‘famous’ weathermen from the area, how he ‘happened to know such-and-such a bit’, and how the news continually urges a panicked mind-set due to the over-coverage of storms (this may be true, I have no opinion as I believe preparedness and common sense come first and foremost). So, we were engaged in a friendly weather-related chat. So I thought. We were talking for about 3 – 5 minutes, meanwhile my beloved car that was READY was just sitting alone in the parking lot. Oh, that’s right – he had not yet mentioned that my car was finished! Good grief.
Oh – here it comes! The wave into the front office, after our conversation was finished. Ummmm – I’m the customer here, not your captive audience. You virtually held me from nearly 5 minutes of precious life with our weather conversation; withholding the fact that my car was ready to go, all in order to avow me of your views on media and news coverage, and to name drop. I am a customer. YOUR views and rhetoric should be given at MY request, not at your insistence, somehow just assuming I am YOUR audience, with nothing better to do than listen to YOU. Hmmmm……
So, as we’re discussing my CAR (I’m in a car shop!! Not at a social event!!), here is a list of what I learned about this employee:
- He’s been in our state his entire life
- He fishes
- All the fish he catches are of legal length
- He owns a boat
- He owns a motorcycle
- He knows (or says he does) a local weatherman
- He recently conversed with this man about media coverage of hurricanes
- He had a run in with an animal rights activist while fishing
- He threatened to put the man on the ground for ‘getting too close’, stating the man had put his hands on him (doubtful)
- He feels there is a mob-mentality when groups of people get together to talk about issues; that singularly, individuals hold different views from what they extol to others on groups
- His name, as he talked about himself in the third person
Am I forgetting anything? Probably. This conversation was so BIZARRE to me! What was the purpose of talking about ‘all this stuff’? Lordy! There is nothing wrong with a bit of idle chit chat here and there, even with people I don’t know well. This seems to have been something else, however. Name dropping? Telling me about his material possessions? Relating a story in which the personal safety of another was threatened? What is going ON???
Looking at this ‘exchange’ and remembering my long ago lack of awareness, I think I would have been captivated by this person. I would have listened, thinking to myself (probably), “Wow! He knows (the weather / media personality)!” and “Wow! This man has a motorcycle AND a boat!”, and likely, “Wow! He is a person who stands up for his convictions!”. Interestingly, at this point in my life, I recognized this exchange and behavior for what it likely was: One person (him) who internally is either so small and empty, so void of positive character, so lacking in personal worth and security, he was brought to a place of telling a stranger (me) things that truly have no relevance to me or why I was there – TO FIX A NAIL IN MY TIRE!! Maybe he thought he was just making conversation. Perhaps he was just ‘being friendly’. But, name dropping? Giving me historical data on where you’ve lived? Hobbies? Motorcycle? Boat? Who cares!? Not me, that is for sure. I just want my car back. With the tire fixed. With the nail removed, tire patched, thank you very much. I am truly chuckling at this experience.
Now, I know what you might be thinking…. “Make a mountain out of a molehill, why don’t you…?” That is JUST THE POINT! I never used to even CONSIDER that someone was not an emotionally healthy person – I thought (with ignorance) that everyone was a good person! Truly – I just never imagined being exposed to the mental health issues that seem to be rampant in our society. You might think I am over analyzing this specific exchange at the car shop, but I can assure you these realizations occurred at a nano-speed and lightening-flash rate; this is not something I had to even PONDER. It was a realization I was on the receiving end of a one-sided conversation that was just bizarre, when in the past I may have been enraptured by his tales. It was nearly instant; the visceral reaction to the exuberant over-sharing by a person for reasons actually unknown to me, though I have strong suspicions as to those reasons (as mentioned above). Sigh….. my car is in good shape, thank you for asking. And so is my internal ‘radar’, being able to recognize red flags and this exchange for what it likely was – an attempt to charm the tires off my car! It didn’t work. My car is intact, and so is my sanity. Nails in the tire and red flags, indeed.