Saturday, May 22, 2021

Post 4008 - Respectfully Speaking

Well, hello there, my friends.

I am still getting feedback on last night's "privileged" blog post. I was expecting some blow back, some people who would rip into me because they cannot abide an opinion that challenges one of their own. There are plenty of such people. Plenty.

My position has always been that I am fine with people who disagree with me. And I expect people to be fine with me when I disagree with them. It is when people are inherently disagreeable that I decide I do not need them in my life and drop them like a hot potato. I don't want to do it, but I do, if for no other reason than my mental health. 

I told you before about a guy I attended university with. He was a disagreeable chap, to say the least. He would express his opinions and not even entertain a contrary position. He would roll his eyes and sigh and say things like, "spare me!". I would eventually just sit there and listen to him pontificate until all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room, or he had finally run out of things to say. Which seldom happened.

In 1986, we both ended up working at a place in Dartmouth, off the Bedford Basin. I stayed there for four months, but he had a chance to keep working and did so until the fall of 1987.  I did not seek him out very much.

I graduated ahead of him because he had failed a course or two., and I had had an additional semester.  His name had become a trigger for me. I would think back to his loud mouth that never quite stopped. Yap yap yap. Yip yip yip. 

Many years later, he moved back to Nova Scotia from Ontario. He went to work for a consulting company in Halifax, and because our common field is not that large and people tend to know each other, he ended up working in my office. We talked cordially but I knew better than to mention certain things because they would set him off. He wasn't there long. I learned later that his employment with the company had come to an end. I was not sad.

The last I heard he was working and living in Memphis, but I can't find his linked in profile any more. He could be anywhere, really, rendering toxic yet another work place.

Not quite the end of the story. About five years ago, when Patricia was taking a pilates class on Robie Street, I would go pick her up and we'd drive home. I would stand there with a bunch of women while waiting for her to finish. I would chat with these women, one of whom, it turned out, had  worked with him several years earlier. The topic of this man had come up because I told her I had gone to  Acadia and one thing led to another, and his name came up. 

Turns out that he had asked her for a job reference after they had stopped working together. He was interested in becoming a teacher at the local Nova Scotia Community College teaching something in our field. She demurred and told him something without providing this reference. I shook my head. I think she did, too. We did not need to say what we were thinking, and what she was intimating. I'll tell you now. It was that someone with that temperament, someone that mouthy and opinionated and obstinate and bombastic and impatient and disagreeable and argumentative and condescending and those are his good points, has no business being in the class room. 

Her reputation would be besmirched if she provided a job reference and he got the job partly because of it, and the expected fallout ensued. The students would have revolted with that man fronting the class. 

Oh, one more thing. It was my fault that he had made our lives so miserable those two summers all those years ago. The job at Acadia that he applied for and got, was one that I had told him about. If I had kept my mouth shut we would have been spared that man's mouth. It is one of my major life regrets. Usually you have to live to be 40 or older to learn the importance of the phrase, "no good deed goes unpunished". I learned it at 21. Shame on me. 

My point is that while it is fine to have a free and fair and open discussion about any subject, when that discussion is hijacked by people whose mind cannot be changed, and they won't change the subject, nothing good can come from that. We should all be able to walk and chew gum at the same time, to accommodate and incorporate our beliefs and opinions and not be so insecure about them that we are offended or insulted when those beliefs and opinions are challenged, in a respectful manner. 

We all need to be able to get along and accept that people don't have to agree with one another to get along. 

It is how people come to respect one another. 

See you tomorrow.


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