Saturday, May 19, 2012

A Mile Wide and Twice as Deep

People can be really mean.

Everyone gets into a mean mood once in a a while, but some people are fundamentally mean.  They may know how to keep themselves in check so that they can operate in polite society, but they can only go so long before their fundamental meanness slips out.

I have a business relationship with a man who has a mean streak a mile wide.  The whole mile wasn't revealed to me all at once.  At first he seemed like a clever guy with a critical turn of mind and a gift for sarcasm.  As he got to know me better and felt more at home with me, he started sharing more of his opinions.

He thinks this person is stupid.  That one is fat.  A third - who knows what she does all day?  Probably sits at her desk playing solitaire instead of working.  And how about that guy - the ugly one?  Lucky for him that he married his high school sweetheart, because no one would date him.

These pronouncements are usually followed by an evil cackle.  The mean guy obviously gets a charge of delight from putting other people down.

He's even been mean to me.

Sometimes I wear crazy socks to work.  The rest of my outfit is all placid and beige and whatnot, but hidden under my trousers and over-the-ankle boots I might be wearing canary yellow, or rainbow stripes, or socks with birds all over them.  One time when I was seated with my legs crossed, my pants rode up enough to reveal a sliver of crazy sock.  The mean guy saw, and laughed at me.  Not with me.  At me.

He raised one eyebrow, smirked, said something like "Really?  You wear kids' socks?"  At that moment all I said was "Well, life is serious enough, don't you think?  I like to liven it up a little."  He sneered.  But we were about to start a business meeting, and I didn't care all that much at that moment what he thought about my socks, so that was the end of it.

But after the fact, when I had a chance to think it through again, I got pretty ticked off.  I don't know why he feels entitled to be The Judge of Everyone, or The Determiner of Sock Age Appropriateness, but it's a bunch of b.s.  Next time he says something mean, I'm calling him on it.  I'm just going to say, "Wow, that's really mean."  I don't know what will happen, but if I can get him to think twice before opening that sour mouth, I'll call it a victory.

11 comments:

Jameil said...

LOL Judger of Sock Age Appropriateness. People kill me with their useless thoughts spreading their unhappiness. He's deemed you a person he can share it with. Once you say something he'll probably stop. Win win win

DarcKnyt said...

Speaking from experience, it won't change him much to hear someone say he's mean. He might start hiding more of that mile-wide streak to you, but that'd be a plus anyway. Still, for someone like that to change they'd have to have a compelling reason to do so, and that generally has to be something big. Being judgmental doesn't bother people like that, I've found.

But then, maybe I'm just meaner than most. Maybe it will be just the difference he needs to turn over a new leaf. You go, Spark! I hope it works out all right for you. And for what it's worth, I like your crazy socks.

Granny Annie said...

You simply have to say, "Oh I am sorry that you feel so inadequate that you have to put down others."

Jenski said...

I like Granny's idea!

Sometimes when someone says snarky things like that, and even if it's me!, I wonder why that person cares so much.

ZMANOWNER said...

Yeah, you know its true about how we work with folks and after a while they show there true colors. You should put this guy in his place next time. Never know though maybe he is compensating for lack of confidence. You should harp on him about something you see physically wrong with him..that will teach him...zman sends

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Hmmm.... I don't tend to be mean, but I do lose that filter between mouth and brain on occasion... always gets me in trouble.

LL Cool Joe said...

I totally agree with Granny Annie's comment.

With the clothes and image I have, and at my age too, I get mean comments and looks. I actually take it as a compliment now. I'm not a grey person that no one notices. If a load of teenage boys say something nasty, I think wow I must have got my look just right because I've touched something in them that they relate to.

As for Mr Mean guy, I wouldn't waste your time on him, it will take something big for him to change. If he kept making nasty comments about other people I'd probably say something like "Have you looked in the mirror recently?" But then that would make me mean too.

Sparkling Red said...

Jameil: Exactly. He's been confusing my silence with agreement. I need to stop tolerating his poison.

DarcKnyt: I agree - people like him don't easily change, they just adjust how much effort they put into hiding their critical opinions. That's fine. He can try a little harder around me from now on.

Granny Annie: I would love to say those exact words to him. If I didn't have our working relationship to consider...

Jenski: Truly, we all have our snarky moods. Sometimes I hear things coming out of my own mouth that I don't like much. Usually I adjust my attitude pretty fast, though. It has more to do with being tired and grouchy than what I really think of people.

Zmanowner: I was thinking of saying to him "Oh, you don't like my socks? WELL I DON'T LIKE YOUR FACE! HA!" ;-)

Ron: When that filter breaks, it's time for big trouble.

LL Cool Joe: It's funny isn't it - attracting attention. Sometimes I feel eyes on me and it makes me wonder whether the looks are admiring or critical. Then I try to shake off the wondering, because what does it matter?

Lynn said...

I always think people who talk about everyone in a mean-spirited way must be talking about me like that, too.

I'd steer clear of that guy.

DarcsFalcon said...

What a jerk.

Unfortunately, you can't keep him from thinking his mean thoughts, but maybe by calling him on it you can prevent those thoughts from falling out of his mouth. He'll learn to keep it to himself.

And if you draw his name in the Secret Santa thing at Christmas, you can get him ... socks! LOL :)

Keep it up Spark. If anyone can handle him gracefully, it's you.

Tracy Makara said...

Jeez! He sounds really mean. Must not be a very happy guy and he's going to be mean until he sorts himself out...if he ever does. Hope you don't let his barbs get to you. It obviously goes way deeper than your choice of socks with this guy...and has nothing to do with you or anyone else at work either. Hmm...next time you're getting ready for a meeting maybe you should wear a pair of socks with the word dick printed all over them and make sure you sit right next to him and be sure that the pants ride up lol. Kidding of course, but I think I would be tempted. ;)