One of the worst things about a temper tantrum is that it feels so good when you’re middle of it.
Logic and good sense bounce off your brain like bullets hitting Superman’s chest, as you wrap yourself up in a cloak of self-righteous anger.
You are the injured party here, damn it, and you're entitled to shout, curse, and pound the desk with your shoe like Nikita Khrushchev at the UN.
It’s only when the anger wears off, when the Incredible Hulk turns back into Bruce Banner, that you realize you look rather stupid.
I had this point driven painfully home to me at work when I had a 20-megaton conniption fit over my abominably sluggish computer.
I wasn’t feeling particularly well that day, either physically or emotionally. And to be perfectly honest, my work computer is old and in chronic need of an overhaul.
It seems that no matter what command you give the damn thing, it’s first reply is to light up the message “Not Responding” at the top of screen. Eventually it’ll do what you ask, but first it has to go through its little surrender monkey dance.
Most days I can put up with this grief, but on this day I believe I was actually searching for a reason to be angry. And I found it.
It started when I tried to open up Outlook to check my morning emails and got the old “Not Responding” routine. I foolishly kept clicking on the icon, which only helped to slow things down even more.
I started cursing, under my breath at first, but then louder as the wait went on.
“This is the 21-Fucking-Century,” I grumbled, “and I still can’t get my goddamn email.”
Instead of counting to ten, going for a walk, or looking at the newspaper, I angrily attempted to launch Google Chrome and got another “Not Responding” for my trouble.
The Psycho Next Door
I fumed and swore until smoke came out of my ears. In some small distant part of my mind I could hear a voice telling me to tone it down, there are people around who can hear you. But my brain was not responding.
Good, I angrily declared, I don’t feel well, I hate this computer and anyone who doesn’t like it can drop dead.
Eventually the computer calmed down and so did I. Yes, it’s an old machine, but strangely enough freaking out didn’t make it work any better.
I was all set to put the ugly incident behind me and get on with my day when I heard two women on the other side of my cubicle having a conversation.
I could hear every word they said, which meant that they must’ve heard every foul thing I had been saying for the last five minutes.
I kept telling myself to let it go and pretend that nothing had happened. But I couldn’t. I knew something had happened—and I had been the cause of it.
I knew what I had to do, but it took me a while for me to admit it to myself. Finally, after nearly an hour, I got up, walked around to the other side of the cubicle and faced my two coworkers.
“I’m very sorry about all the noise and foul language,” I told them, feeling like a first class loser.
One of the women laughed and waved her hand.
“You sound just like my husband when he has trouble with our computer,” she said.
Oh, really, I thought, so you’re married to a lunatic like me? Poor lady…
I realized that I had never formally introduced myself to these women so if nothing else, my asinine actions had actually expanded my world a little bit and now I greet these ladies every time I see them in the office.
And it felt good to apologize, to acknowledge mistake and at least try to make amends.
I keep telling myself that I lost my temper because I wasn’t feeling well, but that’s just an excuse that will likely leave me in a rut.
I want to use my energy to change, not waste it on looking for reasons to be the same old loon.
This is the 21st-Fucking-Century, it’s high time I upgraded my mental software so that the next time I reach out to coworkers I’ll be doing it to make new friends and not to atone for my sins.
I know I’m making progress. It’s just that every now and then I’ve got this urge to pound my shoe on the desk.