Permission to Behave Badly

Darling, a story – a dear friend, a tender-hearted soul, was told by her boss that their workplace was going to be sanitized and their team was going to work from home for a week. She started to collect her things to go home when a team member told her that the reason they had to work from home was that the man who had the office NEXT TO HERS had covid.

Tender-hearted soul hied herself to the boss’s office, “WHY are we working from home now?” And he said, “It’s just like that, they will clean the building.”

Oh my. My my my my! Lying to her face about a life and death issue. When tender-hearted soul told her petit amour this story, petit amour told her to yell, kick up a fuss, write e-mails and take a stand. Oh no. No no no no!

First, we are not going to crown evil with a hissy fit. Second, tender-hearted soul needs that job and this is not a case of “Whoopsie sweetie, you are using the wrong fork.” This is pure, calculating evil – boss wants to cover his reputation/ the company at the expense of telling people information they need to know. Third, it is not tender-hearted soul’s responsibility to try to make a human out of her troll-boss. As Lauren Morrill said, “I don’t know how to explain to you why you should care about other people.” An e-mail will not fix this.

But someone should DO something you mumble – yes, of course Darling, something will be done, but not necessarily by tender-hearted soul or you. You aren’t in charge of EVERYTHING, you can’t fix EVERYTHING and in times like these when you are worn out – it is vital to fight the fights you can, the fights you have energy for and leave the rest to whatever God, Goddess, collection of deities, natural object or flavor of ice cream you worship.

As for this boss, it is now his destiny to become an Instructive Example, a destiny as clear and unalterable as Luke Skywalker’s. His story shall be told (without name and identifiable details) and his fate is a ghastly, probably public, comeuppance of Everest-like proportions.

But, you moan, “someone should do something!” Well of course! I advised tender-hearted soul to 1) verify that her co-workers was sick, 2) if verified, spread the news to co-workers, 3) contact HR and whatever other section, agency should know [if she thinks it will help]  4) do a rose-scented face mask, put peppermint cream on her feeties and then wear socks for an hour, take whatever potions will give her a physical and psychological boost (zinc, echinacea, Dr. Bach, elderberry, turmeric), get a new lavender eye-mask and make sure she was stocked on re-hydration drinks and fun/ interesting things to read.

“That’s not helpful!” you shriek. Well, what’s helpful? There’s no cure, if she has corona, there is nothing she can do but quarantine, take care of herself  and hope she won’t need hospitalization. And if she doesn’t have corona, there is nothing she can do but take care of herself.

Of course she should contact HR and any appropriate government facility but if, from experience, she knows that this will be a waste of time – why should she bother? Everyone is running on limited emotional and physical energy, put yours into taking care of yourself and those people and causes which deserve your time.

If she wants to “do something” about her boss, she should buy popcorn so when the inevitably messy end appears (safe dropped on head, attacked by a rabid marmot, trampled by wildebeest, chewed on by bears, bitten about the ankles by enraged wombats…) she will have popcorn on hand to really enjoy the spectacle.

Darling, I once had a friend, Hortensia, who would write long e-mails about an emotional upheaval and I would write back immediately to be supportive. In times of trouble she availed herself to all possible social opportunities, calls, messages, Instagram… until such time as she had visitors, fun plans, a vacation – then she was silent for weeks. And I realized that she was giving me permission to treat our friendship as infinitely interruptible. So I used that permission and sometimes when she sends a long voice Instagram message, I don’t reply for a week.

Not from anger, not from revenge but from an understanding that “we aren’t that kind of friends.” Revenge is useless, and wallowing in disappointment is not helpful.

Don’t think only in terms of tit-for-tat, I have friends who never communicate but will drive 1,000 miles to meet me. This isn’t exactly permission to behave badly, but permission to behave equally.

Corona is teaching us that we know some people who offer to drop off groceries and we know some people who don’t. So keep your powder dry and your energy for others at appropriate levels. Never allow yourself to be in a situation where you are saying, “But I did #*!^)(&$ for Eunice, and now I am only asked for * and Eunice refuses!” Help as you can, but don’t over-extend and work on NOT being part of the drama.

See how shapely and unbitten by wombats my ankles are? How did this happen? Chance? Mais non! I do what I can to stamp out (and stamp on) trolls, and let the universe handle the rest. OH, is that a lilac-scented face-mask I spy?