Thursday, November 19, 2009

Perhaps I have some anger issues

"What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say."

I have the Franklin Covey "Simplicity" refill for my daily planner and this was today's quote. Oh, how appropriate it is!

Before I tell you why I wanted to throttle someone last night, I think a little background information is on order.

First of all, if you know me, you will probably agree that most of the time I am not one to lash out at others unexpectedly or without due cause. Secondly, I bowl every Wednesday night except during the summer. I have been doing this for about 7 or 8 years with the same group of people and most of the time I thoroughly enjoy it. Third, just about every week one or more of us orders food from the bowling alley's cafe. They serve your standard fare from pizza to burgers, hotdogs and even salads. The problem is that in the past we've had some problems with their technology and service. They used to have touch screen kiosks where you could order your food and they would bring it out to you. Unfortunately they haven't been maintained properly and are so old that they can no longer get replacement parts for them. Consequently this year they've started distributing blank order forms for us to fill out and give to the food runner (most of the time a teenage boy or girl). Okay, they have had some technological issues and are trying to find a work-around. Fine. There is also the problem that sometimes for those food runners, this is their first job and getting the meals to the customers in a timely manner is perhaps not their highest priority. Oh....and apparently teenage boys believe that if you have a pair of pants on, you don't need a napkin. Right? Right. These issues with the cafe have caused much consternation over the past few years since we feel like, as a bowling league, we are the bread and butter of the alley. They should be sure to make sure serving us is a top priority. I don't think we're asking too much of them.

My coming unglued last night revolves around the fact that different members of our team have different ways of dealing with our frustrations with the cafe. For instance, a few months ago, G asked to speak to the manager of the cafe hoping to resolve some of these issues. The first words out of her mouth when he came to find out what she wanted? "So, is your cafe in business to make money or just to piss people off?" Apparently she has never heard the phrase "you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Needless to say, at that point the manager crossed his arms and his body language said he was no longer listening to a word she had to say.

Fast forward to last night. We were part way through the second of three games and hadn't seen the food runner even though they generally show up some time during the first game. One of the young men who works at the front counter came down to the lane next to us. Before he could even attend to his purpose for being down at the lanes, G starts in on him with (I'm paraphrasing), "Where is the waiter? He should have been here already....blah blah blah." The young man says he will send someone down right away. G's response is to not let up. She goes on and on about how ridiculous this is and that she wants to have another talk with the manager and to tell him that the lady who bowls on Wednesday nights who is always mad wants to have a word with him. (I'm SURE that sent him running....the other way!)

Meanwhile, I am hearing all of this and I'm starting to get mad. This kid didn't cause the problem, so why is she taking it out on him? For goodness sake, this young man doesn't even work in the cafe! I go up to bowl (and mess up because I'm getting angry). When I come back, the waiter that has been summoned arrives with menus and order forms in his hand. He sets them on the table and I proceed to fill out my order (this is seriously NOT rocket science and takes me no more than 30 seconds). G, on the other hand now begins to berate THIS kid. She's ranting at him because he's "obviously not been trained right". Then I guess that he asked her to fill out an order form so that he could get her order in. Her response was to say that if he wanted a tip, he would fill it out for her. His response was to simply stand there. (Oh! Did I mention that this is the first time I've seen this kid? So I'm guessing he's been at this job for less than 1 week.) She then said to him, "Do you want a tip? Well do you?" Still no response from him.

At this point I couldn't take it any longer. I was REALLLLLLYYY fuming about the way she was treating him. I stepped in and said, "Hey, G. How about we NOT berate the waiter has come to take our order and who just started for problems that 1) have been going on for years and 2) he has no control over?" She vehemently disagreed and said that she felt she was not wrong to blame him and that it was ridiculous for her to have to fill out the order form. While we were arguing, the kid turned on his heels and left. I called after him, but either he didn't hear me or he didn't want to hear me. So, I ran after him (with my completed order form) and asked if he would please take my order. He was very nice and polite and said that he would certainly take mine but that he WASN'T coming back to take HERS. I told him I certainly didn't blame him.

When I got back to the lane, our argument was obviously not over. We went back and forth with me being angry that this kid is being blamed for things beyond his control and G saying we would just have to agree to disagree. WTF? This is like blaming kids born in the 80s for the Cold War. It just seems unreasonable to me.

By then I was so mad that I once again messed up when it was my turn to bowl. When I had finished, I changed into my street shoes, excused myself and went outside to walk around for a few minutes and cool off. I felt like it was either that or punch G in the face. When I returned there was definitely tension in the air, but I think that was a better outcome than physical violence. Needless to say there were very few words exchanged between us for the rest of the night.

When I relayed the story to Troy later on, he said good for me and that obviously therapy was doing me some good. In the past, I probably would have not said anything and instead would have stewed about it for the next month. He says he thinks this is a better solution. I'm not so sure everyone else would agree. What about you?

An aside: Aren't you glad you asked, S?


indystacey said...

Heather, I agree with you that this poor kid should not have to bear the brunt of G's anger. While her frustration is warranted, it was misdirected. I'm proud of you for pointing that out and standing up for the young man.

Perhaps you could write a letter to management from your league and share your concerns.

Anonymous said...

S Says:

Well, I did ask didn’t I. I have taken a few minutes to gather my thoughts and for what it’s worth, here they are. First of all let me say that I consider both of you very dear friends and even though I wasn’t involved, the argument made me feel really uncomfortable. I readily admit that I’m a big mouth and generally don’t have any problem saying how I feel about things but it makes me feel bad when my friends are clearly pissed off at each other. Was Gayle wrong to berate the server and the alley guy? Yep! One of her biggest faults is that she views everybody in the same way as she views her first and second grade students (i.e. I am the teacher, I get to boss you around and I know everything) it’s very annoying and I’ve learned to ignore it over the years. Were you justified in taking exception to the way she dealt with the kid? Yep! Did you handle it correctly by calling her to task in front of everyone? Nope! No one responds well to being reprimanded in public, especially a teacher who thinks she gets to boss everybody around. You have as much right as anyone to voice your opinion as loud as you want girlfriend! Just make sure that your motives for doing that last night was because you thought the kid needed help defending himself (although it sounds like he did a pretty good job of that on his own) and not because she had finally stepped on your last nerve and you were itching for a reason to scold her.

Missy said...

I tend to agree with you that the waitstaff at these kind of places don't have any say in what goes on around their establishment. As for how I would have handled it I'm not sure. Probably depended on the friend.
(found you through SITS)

Debbie said...

People like that make me so nervous! I completely understand.

Joan Young Spotswood said...

I don't know G and I'm no shrink but I think the real issue is not with the waiter or the management or you - but with her own feelings of self worth. Talking to her was healthy. But for someone who has to "show who's boss" - it needed to be done privately. As the bigger person, before next Wednesday, I would apologize to G for the public butt kicking but I would make it clear to her that your perception of this situation was the abuse of power (adult customer vs. kid)and that you are uncomfortable with that. She will disagree with you and that it where you can chosse to 'agree to disagree' but chances are, she will choose her next victim a little more wisely with you around.

Knowing that these things really can interfere with group dynamics, it would be a good thing for you both to discuss how to approach the bowling team.

I know you didn't ask for advice but I can't help myself. Please feel free to tell me to shut up.

Thank you for advocating for the kid. Situations like these can really impact a young man's life.


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