Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Anger (Part 2)

As a result of taking Dr. Weisenger's anger workshop, I decided to experiment with different ways of publicly expressing my anger rather than keeping it inside. All these years later, I can't imagine this was an assignment or even Weisinger's intention, but I did it nonetheless.

At the time, I was working for the department of business and management in the university extension program. We were located near the university but we were running a program at the downtown satellite office (about 15 miles away). It was a costly intensive four-month program, and our office was supposed to be providing the students with a higher level of service.

When they arrived at the building, the nicest classroom was supposed to be open, it was supposed to be clean, the chairs and tables were supposed to be set up in a certain way. None of this was happening.

I was a fairly new employee so the first week my boss and I drove downtown together, I was introduced to the administrative and custodial staff, my boss explained what they needed to do, and we helped set things up before we left.

The second week, I drove there on my own. I reintroduced myself to everyone, and when I went to check the classroom, once again it wasn't open or set up. So I found the custodian, he explained that the administrators weren't helping him, and he had other responsibilities as well. The two of us set up the room and I drove back to our offices to tell my boss about the lack of administrative support.

My boss talked with the administrator from our offices who was in charge of this facility and she promised that things would be taken care of.

When I arrived the third week, and found that once again, nothing has been done, I was furious. This was such a simple task and it not only confirmed the incompetence of the administrative staff but also their attitude, which was surly and lazy. Once again, the custodian and I set up the room.

Then I walked into the office, acknowledged the staff members, and began to walk behind the counter to use a telephone (this was before the advent of cell phones).

A clerk at the desk, to whom I'd first been introduced by my boss, and to whom I had introduced myself a second time the following week, said, "You can't use the phone."

"Of course I can," I calmly said. "I'm a continuing education specialist."

"I don't know you," he said.

This was the trigger; I hate liars. So I shifted into a new gear; one I'd never used before. I raised my voice about two decibels and said, "We've been introduced twice; first by Mr. B two weeks ago. Last week I reintroduced myself when I had to clean up the room for the Intensive Business Program because it wasn't ready for the students. And I just said hello again...for the third time."

He gave me a sullen look. "Well, I don't remember you," he said.

I raised my voice another decibel. "I find that really hard to believe," I loudly said. "But be that as it may, this is my I.D. card, which I showed him, and right now I plan on walking behind the counter and using the telephone to call Mr. B at our offices in Westwood. If you don't like it, that's too bad."

I made the telephone call, walked out of the room, went to my car, and was literally shaking. I was fairly sure there might be some repercussion for my behavior--which I would describe as "controlled yelling." But that didn't concern me. What bothered me most was that yelling at this incompetent clerk didn't made me feel better. In fact, I felt worse.

What was so disappointing was that I never remembered yelling at anyone before and once I did it, it was a horrible let down.


marie said...

Susan, what a great post! I can relate to this a little. These days I chose to express my anger and outrage through writing (see the post I Can See Past You to The White Sands). You are correct, yelling and screaming does not accoplish anything. It makes matters worse.

The reason I know this is because I have been on the giving and recieving end of it myself.

I too have felt extreme anxiety after I have "cut lose" on someone. I have learned through therapy that there are better and more constructive ways to express anger.

I have also learned that anger is not a bad emotion; it is how you choose to express it is the challenge.

Howard said...

I found this post very interesting...and actually kind of encouraging: I, too, have used the controlled yell approach and also didn't feel real good afterwards.

I also have found that when I get angry on behalf of someone else - almost taking up someone else's "cause," "the fatherless...the widow..." - I find it much more satisfying. Like God will let me take up for a brother or sister, but not always get in someone's face if they've done ME wrong. Mmmmm.