How Do You Handle It When a Friend is Rude?
Do you hate yourself more for what you didn’t say?
It hit me like a pitcher of ice cold Killian’s suddenly flung in my face on a winter day. Unexpected, unpleasant, and with no smooth aftertaste, “it” was a question, posed to me by a person I consider a friend – something less than a good friend but more than an acquaintance. It came after an evening spent with a group of other friends, the sort of wine-sharing-child-issues-my-husband-is-of-such-minimal-help-but-I-still-love-him-WHAT-do-you-do-about-your-sagging-ass?!-story-swapping kind of chat that, between work and laundry and microwave-cooking, we all find ourselves enjoying very rarely these days. This particular friend and I said our goodbyes to the others and were walking to our cars, when she suddenly pointed to my newish car, (literally) sniffed and asked, point blank, “How much did you PAY for that thing?”
What pissed me off more than her (rude) question and (derisive) tone was how I responded to this woman’s bold inquiry. Rather than saying, quite rightfully, “That’s really none of your freaking business” or taking the “Gee, I can’t really remember, and where are my KEYS?!” route, my reaction was, shamefully, to tell the truth. I babbled for a couple of minutes about the negotiations and my good deal, awkwardly ending the conversation with the apologetic comment that “you see, we had always leased cars before, but we wanted to buy something so it was worth paying a (very) little more in the end” … before I made my awkward escape, sliding behind the wheel of my car with a face flushed not from the two glasses of wine that I had that evening, but from pure embarrassment mixed with rage. What ABOUT me made this person think it was ALL RIGHT to ask this sort of thing? And what ABOUT me made ME respond in the (lily-livered) way that I did?!
I’m always in awe of people who are completely sure of themselves. Not the ones who are arrogant, irritating blowhards (and we all know some of those), but the people who are able to combine self-confidence, self-belief and – perhaps most importantly – self-deprecation in being able to appreciate who they are and what they are not – and what they will allow, and what they absolutely, under no circumstances, will NOT permit to happen.
What was so disappointing to me is that before the other night, I thought I was becoming more of that sort of person I admire. Whether it’s a coworker who says something offensive, a Target checkout clerk that happens to be having a bad day when she’s ringing through my Mini Wheats, or a relative who crosses the Line of Complete Irritation one too many times, I have worked hard at becoming better at recognizing when it’s time to shrug my shoulders and let it go, or when the situation calls for more decisive, “Don’t Do That” sort of action.
Instead, in this case, when I was caught off guard, I froze. I panicked. I did what was necessary to make the other person feel better rather than doing what I needed to in order to make myself feel right.
I like to think it won’t happen again. I know that it will. But I also know that I’m getting better at knowing when that frosty Irish ale could be headed my way.
Candace Cavanaugh Buehner lives and works outside of Detroit, Michigan, where once she did have an entire pitcher of beer poured on her head by a complete stranger, although it was summertime, thankfully (and the chick did get thrown out of the bar by the bouncer – ha!).
Read Candace’s last blog: My Greatest Fear?