Thursday, February 12, 2015
Whine Moan B*tch
I’ve got you now. There’s nowhere you can run. Well, that isn’t really true, you can click over to another blog or just sign off. But pretend you’re on a street or in a store or a doctor’s office or something. I’ve just cornered you and started talking, and you have no means of escape.
That’s right, today I’m going to be That Person: the total stranger who accosts you in a public place and dumps their entire life history in your lap. Unasked.
I don’t know what it is with these people. Usually you’ve never seen them before. If you’re lucky and stay alert, you’ll never see them again. But for those ten minutes (that feel like ten hours) that your paths cross, you get the entire Cliff Notes version of their wretched lives.
Because it’s always negative. I’ve been on the receiving end of these dumps, and it’s never anything good. It’s always toxic waste. “Hello. I have hoof and mouth disease. I think I got it at that steak house where I broke all my teeth on a bone. Then the bone got stuck in my throat. Now I can’t work and I have no money because my husband ran off with someone healthy. I have to go now. Bye.”
For some reason, women seem to pull this crap more often than men. Men are raised to suffer in silence. Women will suffer to anyone who’ll stand still for longer than a second. In whiny voices, at length. I suspect they target strangers because friends (however many remain) and family (who are stuck with them) have heard it all before and tell them to shut up, already. But not you. They don’t know you and, more importantly, you don’t know them. And you’re willing to listen. Fresh meat!
I once got caught at the corner mailbox by some woman from the next street over. Within seconds I learned her children hated her, her in-laws hated her, and she hated them all right back. They were all involved in never-ending legal battles. She wished hot nuclear death on the lot of them. Frankly, once she started in with her vitriol I could see her relatives’ point and I was wishing hot nuclear death on her myself. I’ve been lucky enough never to encounter her again. I don’t even know what her name is. We never got to that point.
Because it’s not about being friendly. It’s about you standing there while they vent. They’re not interested in who you are or what you do or any problems you may have. Their goal is to make sure you understand just how sick and miserable they are. Then, the burden lifted, they go on their merry way, and your bright, shiny day is left with a stranger’s stain on it.
Don’t even think about offering solutions or advice. They don’t want answers. Don’t try to tell them your problems. They’re not interested. It’s all about them, and it’s all about the dump. Your purpose in life is to listen. This is all your fault anyway, for being stupid enough to make eye contact with another human being in the first place. That’s all they need to start the slime ball rolling.
Up until now I’ve heeded my upbringing and been polite and listened, all the while wondering which god I offended to get slapped with this punishment. No longer. I’ve had it. Next time this happens, I’m going to say what I’ve always been thinking: “Excuse me. Do we know each other? No? Then what the bloody hell makes you think I’m interested in your misery? You like misery? Here’s a list of my problems. Don’t you walk away from me. I’m not done with you.”
I did try that once. This was right after I’d been laid off from my typing job. I ran into a fellow ex-employee in the grocery store. No, she wasn’t laid off. She quit. “My daughter’s getting married and it was all just so stressful,” she announced in a whiny voice. Poor thing. She voluntarily left a job I needed for survival. That’s just what I told her, too. “I don’t know how I’m going to make the rent next month.” She was silent for a moment. Then she started in again on all her own troubles, as if I hadn’t spoken. Her pitiful life was loaded with grief, and no one, by God, was going to top her by having actual problems.
Well, today is my turn. I’m going to vent, and you’re going to listen. Don’t even try to hop over to another blog. I’ll just follow you. We whiners are persistent.
Here’s how my week’s been. We had ice on Monday. The streets and sidewalks were fine. Not my front steps. I came home from the library, went from blacktop to wood and my foot slipped. I put my weight down for balance and heard my knee go. Two days of painful limping followed. Add to that the muscle I pulled in my arm when I levered myself up from the chair in the library. And the tendonitis in my elbow from shoveling snow. Now I’ve got a new one: my eye hurts. It’s all bloody and gross-looking. I don’t even know how that happened, or when. I did a lot of sneezing in the library; maybe I ruptured a capillary. I’d ask my doctor, but his office moved to Lancaster, 20 miles away. No way I’m going to the emergency room. Even with insurance, they charge an arm and a leg. Can I give them the injured leg and the arm with tendonitis?
I’ll be darned, it worked. Truth is, my leg’s okay, two days after the slip. I can walk on it now without limping. The pulled muscle settled itself overnight. The tendonitis only flares up when I shovel. That just leaves my eye. That’ll probably resolve itself too, now that I’ve dumped it on others. The minute I complain about something, the something sorts itself out. Maybe that’s why people dump on each other. It’s cheaper than paying an expert.
Huh. Problems solved. Now what? I really need to work on this whine thing.