I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Some People Are Just Jerks

My company recently hosted a cake decorator from another country. I invited him to come and teach some courses for us and this involved an enormous amount of logistical planning, effort and money over about 18 months. It's a very, very, vvveeerrryyyy long story but suffice it to say that he managed to take those 18 months worth of work, effort, love and good will and destroy it in about 20 minutes of verbally abusing me. In the aftermath of his destructive, unprofessional and entirely uncalled for 20 minutes, I found myself talking to DH and on the phone and asking him, "What on earth did I do to deserve this?" The answer: "Not a damn thing. Some people are just jerks." (I suspect his answer was based on more than the 20 minutes. It had been a very long three weeks...)

From my point of view, I'd done everything I could to make his experience here - with me, with my business, within the city - as good as it could possibly be.  No matter how many times I went over it in my head, I could not work out what I could have done which might have made his trip here any better for him. In fact, he and his wife told me repeatedly what an amazing job I did, how they were amazed at my organisation of it all, and how if he decided to teach again the only country he would consider coming back to is Australia...and yet a mere few days later, I'm listening to this man tell me I'm selfish, judgemental, made him feel bad for two days, care only about myself and my feelings... and don't give a shit about anyone else. Funny, that. Because there I was thinking all I gave a shit about for the past three weeks was him and his wife.

Makes you shake your head, doesn't it?

So here's the backstory. I invited them to a BBQ at my home. First, to spend some non-work time with them, and also to give them the chance to say goodbye to me, my family, and my employees. Because of a number of different things (including them telling me it was 'not BBQ weather'), I asked if we could change the event to the following evening, and they flat out refused. Why? Because he and his wife wanted 'couple time.' Never mind that they were leaving here and heading off on a 3 day 'couple time' vacation, or that I was just asking for a few hours of their time (when I hadn't asked for any until then), or that they wanted the chance to say goodbye to everyone as well, or that (according to them) this was a work trip and they had had no time alone (really? I counted 10 working days out of 21 spent here in Melbourne.) For whatever reason, the decision had been made and they would not attend the event - an event held especially for them. Okay. I don't understand it, but *shrug*, their loss. There were 15 of us keen to have dinner, and 2 of them - so we decided just to have the BBQ anyway. They then spent the better part a good day texting and emailing me and asking me if I was angry with them.

Oh, dear reader, I'm guessing you know the answer to this, don't you? You who may not even know me in real life know that I generally can't be bothered with an emotion as pointless as anger, and that if someone needs to ask a question like that in the first place...well, chances are they already know me well enough to work out the answer anyway.

Here's a cheat sheet to help just in case:

Your first clue - that someone needed to repeatedly ASK me if I'm angry means they already know the answer, doesn't it? Keep asking and eventually you're going to hear a truth which you'd rather not hear. Second clue - I actually finally broke down and admitted that yes, I was disappointed that they  didn't show up to dinner but that by then I was well past caring about it. Their response was to blame me for cancelling the event. Third clue - I've worked my ass off for them, I PAID for them to be here, and my biggest crime was asking them to move dinner to another night.  Fourth clue - they felt bad about not coming. I didn't magically put that emotion onto them. They felt bad because they TOTALLY KNEW they did the wrong thing and that they should have come to the BBQ.
So - my changing the night of dinner was the reason for the rant in the car. 18 MONTHS of hard work and he made it all disappear in 20 minutes. Sure, intellectually I know I did not deserve the verbal abuse. I even know that the rant was because, in his heart of hearts, he knew he should have been at that dinner. My admitting I was disappointed in their lack of attendance probably only added fuel to the fire.

What I can't fathom is how this man thought his actions were justifiable - that he thinks it's okay in a professional relationship to spout abuse like that is just totally beyond me. Needless to say, it's taken me several days to exhale from all of this. It's really, really unpleasant to have a grown man shouting at you. A little scary, too - considering I was in peak hour traffic on the freeway and all I could think about was finding a place to pull over and kick his ass to the curb. (I didn't do it in the end. *I* was going to walk away with my integrity intact even if it meant I had a heart attack in the damn car.)

So where does this leave me now? You remember I said that I lived through this experience and learned a heap of lessons? Without doubt, the single best lesson this thin-skinned, emotional woman learned is this: some people are just jerks.

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