Usually I only write about theological topics. But today is different…
I started my new job as a Biomed Tech for a large company. My tour guide introduced me to the man who I would be working side-by-side with for the next 6 months.
This man looked like a burly, pony-tailed Abe Lincoln with a scowl on his face. He didn’t say “Hi”, ask my name, or offer to return my handshake. He started by saying, “Let me tell you how it is. I’m not here to wipe anyone’s @$#, change their diapers, or hold their hand. I’ll show you one time how it’s done and you had better do it and hit the ground running. I don’t need any blanketly-blank-blanks around here. Are you hearing me?”
I thought that I was in basic military training again. I wondered if I had re-enlisted. I nodded my head and said, “No problem”. My tour guide immediately whisked me out and took me to see the rest of the hospital.
I can’t remember much about the hospital tour. I tried to be engaging but my blood was beginning to boil. When I was younger, I used to let people bully me. I didn’t think Christians were allowed to stand up for themselves. (Turning the other cheek is appropriate for some actions, but not all. Jesus didn’t back down from the Pharisees. He actually called them provoking names!) One day when I became a teen, my suppressed anger couldn’t turn the cheek any longer, and I put a bully in the hospital. After several fistfights, I began to see that being a really nice polite kid who turned the other cheek until I went into a rage was very destructive. I have since learned that I have to deal with my anger immediately in a righteous manner before it gets destructive.
After a half-hour I stopped my guide and said, “I’m sorry, but I am very angry about what happened down there with the man I’m supposed to be working with. I don’t care how many zeros you add on to my pay, I don’t deserve being addressed that way. I’m an extremely nice guy, but that’s about to change. We need to go back down there and let me talk to that man. If he doesn’t apologize, which I doubt he will, then this day is over and you need to find another replacement. He agreed that the man was very unprofessional and acquiesced to my request.”
When I walked back into the room, I gritted my teeth, clenched my fists, and gave my best Clint Eastwood stare (I’ve practiced it many times in the mirror LOL). I firmly spoke, “Hey you! Don’t you dare walk up to me. I’m warning you to stop right there. You had your turn to tell me how it is, now you really need to sit down, pull back your ponytail so I can see your ears and know that you’re listening to what I’m about to say. (He sat down). You will never talk to me like that ever again. You need another pile to put your manure in because none of it will be poured out on me again. I am nobody’s doormat. I ain’t going to be your whipping boy. You are going to teach me, and you are going to be patient. And if you don’t, then you are going to have to do these 4,000 pieces by yourself because no one will want to work with a rude man like you. Are you hearing me?”
I was fully expecting him to take a swing at me, and I was ready. I can take a punch, and I leaned forward. He looked like a former boxer, and I was hoping to go at it. His eyes got real big and his face changed. He said, “I am so, so, sorry for being such a jerk. I am a real jerk. I don’t always get along well with people. I really want to get the job done. Sometimes people get in the way of doing a job that saves the lives of others who are less fortunate. I get on people’s nerves. I used to spend my days trying to find the bottom of a bottle of Bourbon, but now I’m trying to save lives. I do better with machines than I do with people. So, I try to help people by fixing machines. I’m so stressed out, but I think you and I could work together. I’ll really try. Feel free to call me whatever nasty name you want. It will probably be good if you do that. It will help me to know my boundaries. I’m really sorry I offended you, I really am. Will you accept my apology?
In all candor, part of me was disappointed. I really wanted to get into it, and then walk out. I’m not saying that my attitude was good or that I always do the right things. Many times I am not Christ-like. But I have learned to deal with anger sooner, rather than later. I folded my arms, thought for a second, squinted my eyes, and said, “apology accepted”. Then I called him a name, and we both began to smile. Then he reached out to shake my hand.
In a sense, it felt like we had been in a really good fight. When we shook hands, we understood each other. He’s a cold, grouchy fill-in- the- blank, and I’m a foolish hothead. We both began to talk about things that really mattered in life. In a sense, hot burning anger was used to thaw a cold, hard piece of ice. And the ice was used to expose the heat of anger and temper it down.
Maybe I’ll be able to work with this jerk…or maybe he’ll be able to work with this jerk.