Panic in Paradise

Posted: August 31, 2010 in Life
Tags: , , ,

After sauntering into work and hunkering down in the cube farm that I call “life at the office”, I fired up my email and cherry-picked what I thought would be the more urgent emails to read first.

Including this one (paraphrased):

“I know you meant the best here, but someone dropped the ball and that device should have been sent to a different department, not back to the vendor.  And now we are behind for about a month because of it.  Maybe our two groups should meet to talk about best practices?”

I sat back.

Read it again.

Sat back again.

I didn’t need to see my neck to know that it was glowing a subtle shade of red.  I could feel it.

Ever have one of those times when you’re so angry you don’t know what to do?   When you know that if you say anything it’ll be wrong, mostly because there is *so* much you want to say, all of it equally important, that it will get lost by the time you utter the words?  Where you know that the nothing would frustrate you more – not even the slight to which you intend to respond – than not saying exactly what you mean to say?

That’s the time when it’s best just to hang back, and let that little piece of heaven that the guy left for you in the offensive email just percolate a bit longer.  Let it steep in your gut, until there’s a sense that you want, need to expel it.

Some will read that quote up there and not understand the offence that was given.  That’s understood.   In today’s world, the political man will not out-and-out call you a dumb fucker.  Not like Don Draper would anyway.

He’ll find a way to say it with subtlety and style.  He’ll say it in such a way that you and he both know he said it, but the words he has chosen won’t allow you to grab hold of it.  You in effect have no visible proof that he said anything even remotely offensive.

That’s what this was.  What’s more, he cc’ed the rest of the world on it too.  He didn’t want just me to know I was a dumb fucker – he wanted everyone else to know it too.

One of the guys who works for me saw it, and he knew exactly what it meant, and he called me.

“You know – I went back to his original email.  What he said wasn’t fair, and it wasn’t right.”

“Yeah, I know.” I replied. “I was going to respond to his email but it probably would have been a mistake.  I need to cool down a bit first, at least, before replying.  Nothing worse than inarticulate rage.”

“I agree.  Anyway I just wanted you to know what I thought.”

“Thanks – I appreciate it.”


The day went on, and I forgot about it.  Or thought I did.  There was other work to do.  And besides, sometimes when someone sends an idiotic note to you in anger, the best thing you can do, the thing that will drive them around the bend, is to fail to respond.

My brother used an even better method:  when someone sent him a hateful email, he replied back but didn’t say anything.  It looked as if he wrote it, erased it, *MEANT* to write something but forgot, and just hit “send”.

The person replied back, wondering what he meant to say, and he again replied with an empty response.

He did this several times, while his correspondent became livid with rage.

I loved it.   There’s a reason I admire my little bro.

Eventually the end of the day came, and it was time to leave.  I took a last trip to the washroom (bringing my iPad with me, because you can’t leave that thing just lying around anywhere).

Then I came back, packed up my stuff, and started to walk to the elevator.

Then I realized that my subconsciousness had been working all day on a reply to him.  I wasn’t aware until it all came together.

So I rushed back to my desk and started to write it out.  It felt good.  It was subtle but the message was quite clear:  “you need to get your head out of your ass, buddy.”

And as I sat there, trying to find the perfect way to end the email, a thought dawned on me:  I couldn’t remember bringing the iPad back from the washroom.

I jumped out of my chair and ran all the way down the hall to the washroom.  As soon as I opened the door, I knew it was too late.  The floor had been washed.   That meant the cleaner had been in.  And sure enough – my iPad wasn’t there.

I saw another cleaner (one who empties the garbage, but doesn’t wash any floors) and I asked her if she had seen him.   She could hardly speak a word of English.  I don’t know what she said but I raised my voice a little and spoke slower (why do people always do that?  They’re not deaf, and English is still English no matter hooooowwww slllloooooowww youuuuuu  gooooooo).

She shrugged and pointed up.

“Oh – he’s washing the upstairs washroom floor?”

She nodded, still pointing.

I wasted no time.  Instead of waiting for the elevator, I ran up a flight of stairs.  Breathlessly, I opened the bathroom door.   The floor was dry.  He hadn’t been there yet.  Which meant he was still on his way.   There was time.

There was also another washroom on the same floor but at the other end of the building.

I ran.

Sweat trickling down my shirt, I slammed open the bathroom door.  The floor was dry.  He hadn’t made it to this floor yet.   Maybe he was on the original floor but at the opposite end of the building from the original washroom I’d been in.

I barreled down the steps and, got to the washroom and…..there he was.

He smiled at me, in a completely unEnglish-speaking way.  (I knew it, as soon as I looked at him).

I gasped and wheezed, trying to get my breath back.  “Did you clean the other washroom?”

He looked at me, puzzled.

“Other washroom?  Clean”  (Dear God, did he know ANY English words?)

“Oh jes!”  He nodded, grinning.

“Did you see my iPad?”

He cocked his head sideways and just stared at me.  He seemed interested.

“iPad.   You know – iPad?”

The puzzled look remained.

Suddenly I had a thought.  I reached into my pocket and pulled out my iPhone.  “it looks like this – only four times bigger”

Puzzled look.  Then, he shook his head “no”.

I gave up and walked back to my desk.  I’d already decided to remotely wipe the now-stolen iPad clean of all files.  (Yes, there’s an app for that, and it exists on my iPhone)

I sat at my desk and looked over at the bag I was carrying when I had first decided to go home.

There it was.  The iPad was in the bag the whole time.  I had panicked for nothing.

It’s a focus problem, you see.  In that, I don’t appear to have it.

September 21 is the date I’ll get the final evaluation; the date they’ll tell me whether I have ADD or am just plain scatter-brained.

But at least I still had my iPad.

Suddenly, that offensive note didn’t seem like such a big deal.  If I had sent that note and gotten emotional catharsis out of it but lost the iPad, it would have sucked badly.

I shut the computer off and went home.

  1. Eileen says:

    Sounds like one sucky day, but at least you still have your iPad. Mercury is retrograde. It’s best you didn’t respond to that note anyway. Sometimes it is better to ignore it and make them wonder if you ever even read it. Hang in there.


    • At least I still have my iPad. You’re right, and for me that’s a huge deal. I’ve learned not to respond in writing to desperate jerks. It validates them somehow, I think. And we definitely don’t want to validate this one.


  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by wolfshades, wolfshades. wolfshades said: Panic in Paradise: […]


  3. Planet Jeff says:

    Nicely done…though I do ‘get your head out of your ass’ was sooo perfect. I suspect there will be a time in the future when you’ll be able to use it. Guys like that don’t evolve too quickly.


    • No, they really don’t. It’s like they’re incapable of understand the consequences of their actions. And there will be consequences – he just doesn’t know it yet. And probably won’t recognize the cause once it gets there either.


  4. Yes, I second that emotion … don’t respond to the email, make him sweat



    • Can’t argue with that one. I’ve got a call into my manager sometime this morning to discuss it. My boss is fiercely loyal to his staff, so I’m kind of interested to see where this goes.


  5. I hate when people “cc” folk for pure ego reasons. Jerk. How cool would it have been if he had just stopped on by and mentioned the discrepency or the error to you personally instead? With a tone of “I know mistakes happen, but lets try and figure out a way for it never to happen again” kinda thing? The aura of offices everywhere would be so different if people just treated people with dignity and respect. What a concept!

    I have to admit though… I knew the iPad story was coming…hahahahaha! Glad you found your baby.

    I agree with Green Day though: “In short, the iPad is stupid.” Hahahaha! Now, don’t slam me, you posted that on Twitter. It made me laugh so hard!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hahahahaha!

    Hugs & hope for better day tomorrow!



    • The CC thing was irritating to say the least. But even if he had come back to talk personally with me…well, let’s put it this way: I’ve known the guy long to realize that, if anyone other than him said “mistakes happen” it would have been taken in a positive light. From him, it’s a patronizing way of saying “you fucked up”. All the more irritating because: a) I don’t answer to him; he’s a peer; and b) in fact, he fucked up and wanted someone to blame. Me and my group were just convenient.

      Nevertheless, the iPad story really put it all into perspective. I can live with the insult; not so sure about living without the iPad. *grin*

      Tomorrow (today) should be……interesting. :)


  6. *small ADHD nod…*




  7. contoveros says:

    This, my friend, Wolf, is the Higher Force playing a trick on you to help you over a hurdle you needed to clear without anger. You can dismiss it as simply coincidence. But the act prevented you from doing something you thought was the right thing until seeing it in a bigger picture and realizing there might be a gift in this, your harshest criticism.

    It’s what Buddhists teach. Treat your enemy as a gem. He has so much to teach you about yourself if you but forgive him before taking any action. Hell, you might even want to thank him for the e-mail and show how much “better” you are than someone who thinks he’s one-upped you.

    Just a thought

    michael j
    Hard as hell to do when you’re in the thick of it.


    • Your last line of course says it all.

      I think the lesson here is learning not to reduce anger but to manage it properly. If we can agree that anger is amoral and can – like Spidermans’ powers – be used for good or ill, then perhaps it’s a matter of embracing it, and allowing it to show us what we need to know about ourselves, as well as instruct us as to how to manage it properly.

      First, of course , by not replying in kind, or as the little kid inside (which every guy I know has living inside him) would dictate. So – no calling him a poopy-face. *grin*

      In this instance, there is a protection of dignity involved, and the goes to the core of everything sometimes doesn’t it? Do we maintain it without the need for validation? Does it remain maintained despite the slings and arrows flung against it? I don’t know. Logic says “yes” but this freaky outrage says “I don’t know, and I don’t care – the man is going DOWN”

      At any rate, there will be no thanks coming from me to him. That would only enable his behaviour, and, as I wasn’t the only injured party, it would invalidate the justifiable anger of my staff as well.

      At the heart of all is the knowledge you allude to: the fact that diamonds, in order to shine, require hard edges for buffing. Not sure I can quite bring myself to thank the (double-entendre intended) tool. Maybe I can shine the shit out of him though.


      Thanks for your thought-provoking comment Michael.


  8. izziedarling says:

    Ok, Wolf, first of all, the iPad WAS the most important thing. You did well. The asshole who wrote you the email is AGGRESSIVELY PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE. Nasty, creepy mutant – and he has so many relatives. Have learned to respond by not responding. If it’s an email, it’s trashed. If it’s in person, I look at the APA mutant and pretend I don’t speak the language – vacant stare with slight smile. That really pisses them off. And let’s them know I’m on to their wicked ways … snark, snark, snark….


    • *EXACTLY* Aggressively passive-aggressive. That’s him to a “T”. The thing is: I’ve been on the phone with him when he’s lost his temper, and so I recognized the exact same mindset, in between all of the bullshit PC words he used. Trouble was – he was angry at the wrong person.

      Part of me wanted to let it go, but another BIG part of me wanted to clean his clock. *grin* Oh well, a day later, and I feel better for having vented.


  9. redriverpak says:

    Dude! I am sending you a virtual six-pack of Beer! You need them! What a day!


  10. Molly Malone says:

    I hate when people send out those passive agressive emails – they are essentially saying, “I am pretty sure it was you, but I am going to ‘pretend’ that there is a possibility that it was someone else so that you don’t flip out”. Complete arseholes. Way to go on the control by the way – wish I had some of that…


    • Yes. They’re saying all that. What they don’t realize they’re also saying is “check me out – I’m a complete douche”. :) Everyone who reads and understands what he’s really saying understands that. Therefore no real need for me to have to point it out.

      I doubt that control comes naturally to anyone. I almost think you earn it by reacting too quickly a few times, after which you stand back and look at what was accomplished. Anyway, that’s how I learned.


  11. The Weddington Adventures says:



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