I have got to get control of my blindly self-righteous swings from being aggrieved, to correcting others angrily for their DARING to feel the same way. It’s unseemly, unhealthy, unproductive and just well…UN!
Checking in for a doctor’s visit, the cheerful attendant diligently worked through her script. “You’re still at <reads my address>?”
“Still employed at <reads my employer>?”
“Yes…,” I hiss, my disgruntlement rising in ellipses.
“Still ….” I interrupt, feeling as certain that I am justified at that second, as I am now certian I was being rude.
“Does it mention in there that I was just here, and have been in about 15 times in the last year? Nothing has changed! It’s insane to be asked this full battery of questions every, Single, TIME I come in here.” If I could only capitalize on rage.
“Yes, I know…you’re all checked in, and have a nice day.”
I stalked off to the waiting room to re-litigate this in my mind, imagining all the ways the world could change to be less inconvenient to ME! But I couldn’t, because a guy was yakking loudly on his cell phone next to me, and I am congenitally inclined to eavesdrop. I hope to hear a juicy snippet I can spin into some fantastic tale.
Example: Entering a restaurant, the double doors fling open just as I reach to grab the handle. A well dressed professional woman with furrowed brow, and cell phone to her ear, says in full-stride passing, “…exactly how long have you been having these feelings?”
Perfection! A persistent admirer, morphing before my eyes into a stalker? A guilty affair considering coming clean to his wife? A patient, gun to temple, making one last attempt at talking himself out of ending it?
My wife views my habit with judging eyes. “You should be engaging with us, not listening to the conversation at the next table,” she would say, not distinguishing between my twin loves of “snippets in passing” and “borderline eavesdropping on the too near and too loud.” When someone is talking so loud you can’t avoid hearing, is it eavesdropping?
That was, until she walked past a curtained section of an Emergency Room, in transit to her father’s hospital room.
A small girl asked, “Mommy, were you trying to trick the policeman?”
A quick “Sshhhhh!!” from “Mommy” was the last thing heard before moving on. She was hooked, like the minister’s daughter valiantly avoiding sex, or heroin, only to get a first taste and crave it like salvation itself!
I really shouldn’t drag others into my addiction story to justify my habit.
Cell phone guy yammered on.
“I’m in Urgent Care right now….Yeah, my right ear is plugged. I can hardly hear….I don’t know I got here first but I seen a bunch of people who got here after me go in…yeah. It’s bullshit.”
The clinic door opened and the nurse called my name. As I stand up, phone guy leaps to his feet, “I can’t believe this…there goes another one!”
I stop dead in my tracks and turn to him. “I’m going to have my Coumadin dosage checked. You here for the Coumadin clinic?” The scene slowed down like a car crash. His face registered shock, and before he could recover I spun and went in to have my finger pricked.
Doesn’t that asshole know there are multiple clinics? Isn’t he aware that the single “Urgent Care” doctor may not even be in yet, and they don’t re-route dermatologists and Surgeons to leap to the aid of bro’s with ear-aches!?
Then, the usual sick feeling hit my stomach. It’s the moment when I realize I’m raging at someone else’s simple ignorance as if they are intentionally inflicting it on me. I’m correcting another person’s behavior when less than five minutes earlier I was guilty of the same thing. Makes me sick.
Please indulge a little Marc Maron wisdom (I know, “fanboy” doesn’t look good on a 50 year old man. When I was eye-guzzling every ounce of Tim Minchin available a few years back, every experience had a corollary in a song or comedy bit, too. Before that, Seinfeld. Before that, Monty Python’s Holy Grail. Stuff relates to other stuff…please forgive me): Maron says that what he can call success in battling his rage comes in trying to reduce the gap between an unjustified blow up and his apology for being a dick. He’ll hopefully get to eliminating the rage someday, but simply narrowing that gap is progress.
So, this prick’s finger pricked, and a blog post written, I head to apologize to the poor desk clerk. Time for the meetings, maybe? “Hi, My name is Rob, and I’m a rage-aholic eavesdropper.”