Archive for the ‘Anger’ Category

Service of the Similar Reaction to Temper and Humor

Thursday, October 1st, 2020


I know about temper. Mine is the worst. Batten down the hatches when I blow up. Nothing funny about me.

I think reactions to some humor and temper are similar in their disparity. The way the same words and tone are interpreted in a range of ways–as nasty by some, humorous by others–works for both comedy and anger.

In vintage slapstick movies, when a character slips on a banana peel, I wonder, “Did he hurt himself?” I never chuckle while many think such scenes are hilarious.


Does anyone remember the 1980s Broadway audience participation smash comedy in which the actors ridiculed participants mostly for things they couldn’t change? I don’t recall its title. The audience doubled over as I sat stone-faced when actors ridiculed an older man sitting next to an attractive much younger woman. They brought on stage the nerdiest looking short man to stand by one of the actresses, a 6-foot beauty and kept returning to a bald man in the audience to make a hat slip off his head [and bald pates were not in fashion]. Sidesplitting for most but not for me.

The day after the presidential debate Michael Riedel and newsman Joe Bartlett, on WOR Radio’s Len Berman and Michael Riedel in the Morning, thought what the president had said was “funny.” I love to laugh but I reacted to his barbs, fierce faces, incessant, uncontrolled interruptions by pacing my bedroom and shaking in dread. I felt no connection to the laughter they mustered while producing sound bytes of his performance.

A friend worked for a man who terrified the office by screaming at his employees. She said she’d freeze at her desk when she heard him even though the verbal arrows, at top volume, weren’t directed at her and never had been. I suspect the man thought he was garnering respect. Maybe this is what the president had in mind.

Sometimes when an angry person feels cornered, outmatched or out of control, he’ll say things he doesn’t mean, that make little sense, are not true and are uttered only to hurt. Has anyone ever said to you, “I was just joking” after such an encounter?

The inspiration for humor that makes fun of others–especially about physical things they cannot change such as age, height and lack of comeliness–may be different from what sparks anger but the impact strikes viewers/listeners in two ways: they think the words are funny or not.

Do you see a resemblance between people’s contrasting reactions to temper and some humor? Have you found words of an angry person funny? Is mocking a person’s physical deficiencies or trip-ups a source of amusement for you?


Service of Grudges—Helpful, Joyful or Best Forgotten?

Thursday, January 10th, 2019


A friend fed her hatred of an ex spouse with such vigor it ruined much of the rest of her life. I learned from watching her and thankfully avoided the same pitfall, one so easy to drop into.

Jenny Allen’s Wall Street Journal book review of Sophie Hannah’s “How to Hold a Grudge,” [Scribner], caught my eye and interest. It’s a book about how to handle anger, Allen writes.


Hannah comes up with 20 grudge types and Allen covers a few. She illustrates one, “Unreasonable Imposition Grudge,” by one friend putting another friend in charge of third friend who is an emotional mess while she’s out of the country. These two don’t know each other.

The “Ingratitude Grudge” is next. Two friends live in a house the parents of one have bought for them. When the friend whose parents did not buy the house take the girls out for a meal, the second set of parents never treat the other girl whom we assume lives rent free. Allen goes on to describe the “Assuming the Worst Grudge,” and the “Ill-Judged Joke Grudge.”

 “I recognized all of these, alas,” wrote Allen. “As I read through them, I found myself going over my own grudges. Then something happened, something Ms. Hannah promises her readers: The grudges started bothering me less. Some were just too ancient, or petty, or based on my too-harsh interpretation of someone’s behavior.” She described a minor grudge she tossed off but noted she didn’t feel better about a deeper one—a friend blabbed she was getting a divorce when she asked him not to. It taught her one lesson: Nobody can keep a secret. [Most of us know that, don’t we?]

“That’s a painful lesson,” Allen wrote. “It also points to the less-than-honest thing about this book: Ms. Hannah assures her readers that examining their grudges will bring not only insight but a kind of joy. Now that her own grudges have been properly ‘processed,’ she tells us, none of them involve ‘a shred of anger or unhappiness.’ I don’t believe it. An incident involving her brother and his crazy-sounding then-wife—he bullies Ms. Hannah, who’s barely moved into her new house, into rooting through all her unpacked boxes to find and hang a picture his wife painted so that the wife won’t get upset—‘permanently affected the degree to which I feel I can trust and rely on him.’ There’s no joy in knowing something like this.”

While Allen says that Hannah’s “resentment stories,” were fun to read because “they remind us of ourselves,” I’m not so sure they’d put me in a good mood. While I like helping others—and myself—out of emotional pickles, reviewing 260 pages of a strangers’ grudges, some of which remind me of things I’d rather forget, is too much sloshing in misery for me. One more time my mother’s saying works for me: “Bury the bone–just remember where you buried it.”

Do you find it beneficial to chew over old wounds and grudges for years or do you prefer to tuck them away and move on so as to clean the slate for a better day? Some grudges creep up and seep into memory though I prefer to recall happy ones and think I’m better off doing so. Acknowledging grudges is fine but nurturing them isn’t helpful or joyful—do you agree?




Service of Retail Etiquette: How Does the Message Get So Garbled?

Monday, October 23rd, 2017



Retail stores are having a heck of a time so when I hear of one that sells a good product but whose owner or employees miss the mark in service, I wonder what’s going on.

There’s a bakery in a charming Litchfield, Conn. town that sells scrumptious delicacies that look as delectable as they taste. Friends surprised me when they served a delicious cake from there at my last birthday, [I didn’t think they knew what day it was], so I know about the quality of the goodies.


The friends who made my birthday dinner—I’ll call them Fred and Paul–had been asked to buy brownies for another birthday person who preferred them over cake. Paul described what happened: “As we walked into the bake shop a man with an unpleasant look on his face stared at us. The brownies were under a glass bell, priced $3.00 each.

“Fred asked for 12. The owner was horrified—actually angry. He gritted his teeth and snapped ‘Why didn’t you call ahead!?’ He feared that there wouldn’t be enough for other customers.”

Paul continued, “Didn’t the owner register that we were giving him business too? He opened a bag—instead of a box–and threw them in, one by one, while continuing to seethe. I was close to telling him to keep them. Fred also controlled his anger. But we were stuck–we’d been asked to contribute these favorites.”


There’s a bakery on First Avenue and 57th Street in NYC—Andres–that sells amazing palmiers, aka elephant ears, which I adore. If for whatever reason they don’t have any when I drop in, I’ll go another time or I’ll remember to call first!

What does it matter who buys what you’ve made as long as you have no leftovers at closing? If a bakery’s logistics are faulty it’s not the customer’s responsibility. If you’d been Fred and Paul, would you also have held your tongue? Good bakeries are few and far between in rural areas. If you had walked out of this bakery without the brownies, what would you have told the hostess and what would you have brought instead?

Photo: pinterest

Service of Road Rage

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

Can't Speed Poster turned

I recently got a speeding ticket—my first–so I now follow limits to the letter, much to the irritation of drivers behind me. I want to print a sign for my rear window that explains that I must dawdle [an example above] as according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey, I’ll surely hear about it. “Gesturing, honking and yelling at other drivers were significantly more prevalent in the Northeast,” wrote Joan Lowy for the Associated Press.

road rageAccording to the 2,705 licensed drivers queried in 2014, [just published], in addition to yelling and honking, drivers said that they cut off others and the AAA Foundation reported that about 8 million did worse: “bumping or ramming a vehicle on purpose or getting out of their cars to confront another driver.” Lowy also wrote that 104 million—half of all drivers—tailgated and “about 1 in 4 drivers said they had purposely tried to block another driver from changing lanes, and nearly 12 percent reported they had cut off another vehicle on purpose.”

road rage 3An indication of aggressive driving, wrote Lowy, is speeding and running red lights, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports is involved in two-thirds of crash deaths, over 35,000 last year.

Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association pointed out that people don’t yell or make angry gestures when walking behind a slow pedestrian but that somehow it’s OK in a the “relatively anonymous confines of our cars.”

Have you done any of these things or been the victim when others did them to you? Are you surprised people admitted to these actions? Why does it take two years to publish/promote results of such a survey?

road rage 2


Service of Anger II

Monday, March 7th, 2016


When an elderly friend stood up to get off a public bus last week the driver slammed the back door shut and shoved off and out of the bus stop abruptly before he could exit. Fortunately this passenger, who was carrying a heavy package, was holding on and no harm was done except he had to walk four extra blocks to get home. He said drivers are usually nice to him.

I was fuming, having just heard his story, and mentioned the incident to a lovely very young cashier at an office supply store. She responded, “Anger.”

On a crowded subway also last week a slight man in his late teens was balancing an old person on busenormous box with a sheet cake marked “Happy Birthday Boss” on one arm and hand while he stretched his other arm over others to reach the overhead bar. In a voice I hoped would carry I asked him if anyone had offered him a seat. He smiled and said “no.” Nobody budged as the train lurched on and he tried to stabilize his package. At the next stop a few people got off and he asked me if I wanted one of the seats and after I refused politely and thanked him I shepherded him to one of them ensuring that he sat down. Were the other passengers angry too?

I get anger. I have a bad temper. But I don’t accept anger as an excuse for nasty, cruel behavior on the job or an anesthetized approach to what’s going on around you.

Pundits repeat that anger is the fuel driving support of a wacky candidate running for President. As for voting for a clown whose embarrassing performance is dragging the election back to seventh grade, the relationship of such support to anger is lost on me. And you? When you feel anger, how to you quell it?

 School elections


Service of Debt Collection

Monday, September 14th, 2015

where's my money

I read this on a Facebook posting on September 10: If you write for _______, please beware. I filed my invoice on June 1 and still have not been paid. The editor gave me the wrong info on who to send my invoice to–twice! I’ve sent numerous emails and it’s been so time consuming trying to collect my money.

“I got a few emails from their accounts payable dept. saying all my info was in and I should be getting a check soon. Today, I checked on it and was told that they do not have all of my paperwork. I finally heard back from the editor and she said, ‘I really hope you won’t tell people not to write for us because of $300.’ I’m not telling you not to write for them. I just–at this point–really dislike them. I just want you to beware.

Social mediaWriting about this kind of exploitation infuriates me as do people who either play games, working the float on small fry suppliers making them wait for months or worse—ordering work they know they can’t/won’t/don’t plan to pay for.

I’ve written before about a writer friend who was stiffed a fee in the middle five figures by people she knew in an industry in which she was well known, causing such havoc on her finances that she had to move precipitately to another/less expensive city where she didn’t know a soul. The company was going bankrupt and the owners took advantage of her. This was years ago and I still want to take a shower when I think of them.

I knew a flim-flamer who told a graphic designer he worked with for years, “You designed those logos on spec,” when nothing of the kind had been said. Contracts don’t protect you: They cost too much in time and/or lawyer’s fees to defend in court. I’ve not been immune nor have other honorable, hardworking colleagues in PR who provided topnotch counsel, creativity and results.

The typical victim is not too big to fail so who cares?

I used to see typed or handwritten names of people on bits of paper taped to grocery store cash registers representing customers whose checks the cashier was forbidden to accept. Because the honor system doesn’t work so well, instituting a similar online virtual list, by industry, of individuals and companies who have swindled others wouldn’t be viable. People who disliked or were jealous of someone could add a name that shouldn’t belong and anyway, nobody is guilty here without a trial.

taking candy from a babyWhat’s the difference between these perpetrators and youngsters who mug the elderly or adults who abuse children?

What do you think about resorting to social media to accelerate/stimulate/embarrass a company to pay? Before hiring someone, even for a project, smart employers check a person or company’s Facebook, Twitter and other social media pages where they’d see such postings. The writer in the intro was angry and rightly so, but would a reputation of blabbing to the world about a grievance frighten away future clients?


Service of Stress

Monday, November 7th, 2011


As a Manhattanite born and bred I couldn’t help hearing the myth about how nasty, brusque and rude we all are and how pleasant, cordial, and kind country people are. So I’ve always bent over backwards to disprove the former, and I’m ready with an “Aha!” when I find instances that invalidate the latter.

Last weekend’s storm gave me fodder for some “Ahas!” [I took most of the photos in today’s post at our house last Sunday morning, after the storm. The poor old tree at the top belongs to a neighbor.]

Huge limbs and entire trees littered roads after an early, heavy, deep Saturday snow did its damage, lending credence to the emergency status declared for Dutchess County. [In Connecticut, there are still 50 thousand homes in the dark over a week later.]

Only one lane of a two-lane main road was open as crews hadn’t yet had time to clear the debris, so there were lines of cars on either side waiting a turn to pass.

I stopped to let the other lane of traffic go by as the lane I was on had gone through for quite some time. A car behind me swept by and dashed through the tight corridor, acting nothing like a country gentleperson, more like a hopped up brat.

Once the opposite lane emptied out, I started to negotiate the tight open spot when from over the hill came an aggressive jerk who accelerated as he saw the situation, missing me by a hair. I just had time to back up and out of his way.

stormhalloween2011-004smallMonday morning we already knew that we would be in busses for the first lap of the trip to the city. Temperature was 23 degrees and there was ice all over the parking lot. Two busses with drivers were there but they let us stand in the cold. When they finally opened their doors, we asked to put our suitcases in the busses’ belly. “Can’t unlock it,” was the sour response, forcing us to struggle up narrow stairs and the aisle lugging our things in a vehicle designed to hold people and briefcases.

As three giant busses arrived at the station where we normally change trains, a train pulled out of the station. Once the passengers from four stations had hung out on more ice on the open platform for 15 minutes, I meandered over to a stationmaster I’d just noticed.

stormhalloween2011-006smallHe was brave to be out there with us and I soon learned we were finally in good hands. I asked him when our train was coming, figuring it had been delayed. He mentioned a time that was an hour away. I then asked if the train that pulled out just as the “connecting” busses arrived at the station was the train to NYC. Answer: “I apologize.” He did help out best he could by getting a train to the station 20 minutes early so we could be warm and dry while we waited for departure.

There were other similar smart thinking people in the aftermath. On Sunday morning we had a welcome breakfast at the diner in town. The diner had no electricity so there was neither heat nor light but a generator worked a stove. Eggs on paper plates and coffee in paper cups tasted delicious. Adjacent towns had no such luxuries. In one, early Monday, national chains were locked tight: Not a drop of joe to be had.

City people have enormous stresses year ’round simply to get to work on overcrowded subways and busses in rush hour. Country people felt stresses last weekend. Many of us had barely gotten over the costly stretches of no electricity during Hurricane Irene. Does nastiness and recklessness happen as a result of stress,  poor upbringing or what?


Service of Let Bygones be Bygones

Monday, October 10th, 2011


In a discussion about the Wall Street protestors during a radio interview Friday morning, Mayor Bloomberg said, [I am translating what I remember and think I heard, this is not a direct quote], that for the economy to get back on track we should stop looking for blame and quit looking backwards to the cause of the economic downturn and no longer distract these bankers and other corporate types: Let them get back to work.

I disagree with the Mayor. Maybe it’s because I’ve been burned as have countless others. Call me a sore looser.

backon-trackI fully believe in forgiveness, hard as it might be to achieve, and bad as my track record is. This is business, not friendship. It doesn’t set well with me that having weaseled millions out of millions the heads of banks and corporations should sit on their yachts and in their mansions without so much as a knuckle tap to warn others who plan to follow their lead.

Call me Pollyanna, but at the least, they should propose sets of restrictions on themselves. Other industries do it because they don’t want the government telling them what to do. Smart. Guess these folks feel safe, with elections coming up next year. Who dares bother them right now?

And why would we want to leave in charge of the fix the same folks who helped get us where we are with their “Let them eat cake” mentalities?  Should we let them get more bonuses, personally profiting twice from flimflammery?

I think we make a bigger fuss over sports figures who break records by taking steroids.

Is forgiveness the issue here? Should we let Wall Street bankers go about their business as usual, make no restrictions that might help avoid our falling into similar pits now and in future, and take none of them to task?



Service of Reaching Out to Opponents

Monday, May 9th, 2011


I’ve written before about going to an all-girls school for 12 years at which along with academics, athletics was a big deal. The school had two teams: Each child was made either a “red” or a “white.” We spent hours honing our basketball, volleyball, badminton, running and hockey skills, and before each game, we’d also practice a cheer which lauded the other team. So if you were a white, you’d end a clever ditty with a hearty “Go reds!”

Granted this was an extreme and the opposite of today’s fashion in politics and business to mash, crush, pulverize, obliterate, bankrupt, belittle or embarrass your opponent and for goodness sakes, never be caught on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, email, TV, radio or in public writing or saying something positive about your adversary or competitor.

presidentonphone1This is why I was thrilled and proud to hear that one of the first people President Obama told about bin Laden’s death was President George W. Bush and that he invited President Bush to join him at Ground Zero. I was equally delighted and proud when I heard conservative talk show hosts lauding President Obama for his bravery in signing the go-ahead. They acknowledged that he’d have suffered tremendous setbacks had the Navy SEALs failed in their mission.

Instead of bashing each other we should recognize and rejoice in this model by extending a hand, including those in congress and on corporate boardrooms and Wall Street.

In this mature atmosphere, extremists appear jarring and discordant, like a wedding guest passing out discount divorce coupons at the reception. Countless callers to radio programs ranted about President Obama’s fake birth certificate even after he’d provided long form proof. The same ones are now railing about where bin Laden was buried, how the attack was flawed, all the while missing the point that the murderer is out of the way. Enough already.

Do you think cooperation and mutual respect at high levels can happen again and continue? Is a moderate, supportive America in the cards?


Service of Silent Retribution

Thursday, March 17th, 2011


Injustices happen. We’re taught to turn the other cheek, are reminded endlessly that life isn’t fair and when confronted by a glitch are urged to move on quickly and get over it. Only antacid manufacturers benefit when we dwell on a wrong for too long and let it gnaw on our innards.

Revenge is of short term satisfaction and can be dangerous. Yet I think it’s a beautiful thing to learn that someone who was out of line with me also offended countless others and, in some cases, to find out that in some way they got theirs or, at least, their behavior was publicly noted.

injustice1I can hear Rex Harrison singing “How delightful” as he rubbed his hands together in “My Fair Lady” [maybe the song was “I’m An Ordinary Man”].

That musical phrase played for me the other week as I read Josh Barbanel’s article, “Eatery Closes After Decades-Long Family Spat” in The Wall Street Journal as one paragraph about this 100+ year old place rang a distant bell. Barbanel described some of the reasons for its demise: “At the same time the small restaurant in the back developed a reputation for surly New York service, and is rarely busy. One of the ____’s daughters has been known to chase tourists and other pesky customers out of the store.” [The blank is mine; her name unimportant.]

“Wow!” I thought as I read about this woman who had been outrageous to me when I owned a business called Delivered Delicacies [although I was neither a tourist nor pesky]. The details are immaterial, but to put her performance in perspective, she was one of three people in all the years I’ve worked in a range of industries who dramatically crossed the line. Reading those few words in the Journal all these years later also made me wonder why her Papa hadn’t moved her to the back office-and transferred that office offshore.

Such an echo is particularly juicy because it’s rare. I was lucky to eye the article and paragraph. I’d love to hear of similar instances of silent retribution you can share. Or do you think my vengeful attitude is appalling?


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