Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A life lesson not yet learned

I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of fair, and how stubbornly I have held onto it since I was a kid. Tell me if I'm wrong, but I think that grown-ups are supposed to accept somewhere along the way that life just isn't fair. Maybe you learned it in college, when Idiot Jock "whizzed through" organic chem as Hard-Working You eeked out a B-. Or maybe you caught on in your early career when Idiot Co-Worker got the promotion and office while Hard-Working You toiled away in a cramped cube. Maybe some of you took a little longer to catch on but finally got it as you dismissed your children's concerns about who got more orange M&Ms after dinner.

So why has it been so hard for me to learn this lesson?

I get worked up over lots of teeny, tiny things because they trigger the "But that's not fair!" reflex in me. And it's driving me crazy because I really do have better things to do.

Case in point: I had two back-to-back awful experiences at the kids' favorite breakfast restaurant. (We'll call it "Schwinternational House of Pancakes" to protect their identity.) I was so incensed that I labored for two hours over a letter to the store manager, explaining exactly what happened and exactly how disappointed I was, blah, blah, blah. I couldn't believe that upon receipt of my letter the manager didn't immediately issue me a letter of regret and some kind of large-denomination gift card. Instead, she called me and after some brusque questioning, reluctantly offered to cover our check next time we came in, as long as I announced our presence upon entering. We did end up having breakfast there again, but I was too embarrassed/afraid to say, "Yes, hello, I'd like to see your store manager, please? I'm the lady who wrote about how much our last visit sucked."

That noise you hear in your head right now is the cooking staff hawking up a revenge loogie into my crepes.

So now I still carry around this bad feeling of, "Hey, I should get a free meal at S.H.O.P., but I can't because I fear the embarrassment of being identified as The Complainer in front of the staff who will cook and serve my food." And I wrote that letter a month-and-a-half ago.

You think I sound pathetic, huh? You ain't heard nothing yet. What about last weekend, when I was at an away-game with my 7-year-old cheerleader? I noticed that as the cheerleaders were cheering, three of the football players (also 7 years old) were standing a little to the side of them, mocking them. How the heat rushed to my face! How my hands curled into tight little fists of outrage! How dare those little boys make fun of the cheerleaders who were cheering for them? What kind of sportsmanship is that?

For the rest of the game, I was all pins and needles, that feeling that you have on oral report day when you are not sure when the teacher will call you up to the front of the room to deliver your hastily-written oration on the Teapot Dome scandal. I wanted to say something to the football coaches so that they could tell their players to be respectful of their comrades in the pleated skirts. I envisioned the coach thanking me for bringing this matter to his attention and then having a meaningful talk with his team. Then, at halftime, after the girls went out to do their special cheer and dance routine, the football players would run out onto the field and do a synchronized routine, spelling out "THANK YOU, CHEERLEADERS" with their bodies.

But none of that happened. (I know - surprising, right?) I was too embarrassed and too nervous to mention the incident to the coaches - they all looked so busy, so intense, calling out plays and yelling at players who missed the block or didn't hold the line. So I left the game with a sense of, "That's not fair! Those players should appreciate that these girls came here to work hard as a team, too!"

The end result in both of these scenarios is that I am both overreacting and feeling like a sucker at the same time. When something stupid happens that isn't fair, I should either let it go and really, truly fuhgeddaboutit, or I should own my immature complaining-ness and bitch to high heaven until I get the resolution I want.

Speaking of which, who do I write to at FOX with my concerns about that godawful season premiere of House last night?


  1. Excellent oral report choice on the topic of "fair."

  2. Thank you, B.T. I scribbled it this morning in homeroom.