We’ve all experienced that moment when someone reveals how they perceive you. Sometimes their revelation is flattering, sometimes it’s surprising, sometimes it’s … complicated.
I remember once my sister told me that when we played games, I was very competitive. I was dumbfounded. I’d never felt myself to be competitive. I mean, I always took the game-playing seriously. I love the puzzling, the need for quick wits, the mind calisthenics. But winning isn’t really super important to me. At least it doesn’t feel like it is. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy winning. A lot. But I’m never upset when I lose. Never get mad. It’s just part of the deal. Later my sister admitted that she might have been projecting her own heated battle over the Scrabble board.
Years later, I was invited to try my hand at curling as part of a festive gathering. Yes, some Canadians apparently have a thing for curling. I am NOT athletic, but I was determined to get a handle on this weird and difficult sport. We were divided into haphazard teams (pity the team who was saddled with me), and I gave it my all. I was bad––very very bad––which made any half-decent “throw of the rock” pretty darned exciting. There may have been ear-piercing squeals of delight. A few days later, the girl who organized the event told me that one of the players (who had never met me before) remarked how “very competitive” I was. “Very competitive” again. Me. My excitement and exuberance had been mistaken for something else. You hear me: MISTAKEN.
But back to the receptionist at my gym. She’s been working at the club for about a year now. Before her arrival, I had been (what I consider to be) a cheerful member for 15 years. But there was a change of ownership last year and since then a million new, annoying, redundant, expensive rules have been implemented. Every time I go to the gym, I get more and more annoyed. And this receptionist is usually the bearer of the bad news. Problem is, she tells me these rules in that grating (to me), officious tone that implies rules can never ever be broken. Or gently bowed. Not even for loyal, paying, long-term customers. She isn’t helpful or kind or sweet about it. Not to me anyway. And so now, as a result, I am cold and unsmiling to her. Bitten and shy (not once/twice, but over and over). We do the whole gym check-in––wherein we exchange all the necessary cards and towels––but we are mutually terse and cool. That essential part of my social self (my usual warmth) goes into hiding. Then—to emphasize, I think, just how much of a bitch I am––when other gym members come in behind me, she’s all smiles and cheerful greetings. The other day, her name and photo had been hung on the wall as “employee of the month”. Huh. Well, in her world, I’m the bitch.
As for impressions, I will say this: sometimes you’re right … and sometimes you’re wrong … and sometimes it’s not me, it’s you.
Deb: Let me say for the record, I have never seen a competitive streak in you at all. You are a team player in every way and I will compete viciously with anyone who says otherwise:-)
I don’t blame you for being pissed by the changes, but more about the way she executes the information. I am going through a similar thing with the receptionist at the dentist. She is sweet and always smiling, but she harasses me on the phone and in person about my husband and his appointments. I tell her time and again that I do not want to speak for him or book for him as he may have his own preferences as to time and day. Started out really nice with her and then the calls came fast and furious until I found myself being clipped with her. Felt badly about it, but I thought at least it’s over. Got to the dentist yesterday and she said, “Oh, Ms. McGrath, can we book your husbands appointment?” I mustered up every nice bone in my body and said, “I’m really not comfortable booking for him,” and she said, honest to Pete, “Oh it’s just that I hate to harass him." WTF? ... Sometimes it’s not me, it’s you. You speak the truth, Barb!