There are certain times it seems like every bad, hurtful, embarrassing thing that ever happened in my life rushes into my conscious mind at the same time.
Not that I beat myself up, berate myself or otherwise torture myself for past events that can never be changed ... it is just a bothersome reality that rips open some old and painful scars. I cannot stop the thoughts from entering my mind, but I can learn to deal with them in a better manner.
This week has been a mess of mental disconnects, mood swings, aggravation and emotional duress. I do not know why this week was so much worse than others, nor do I know whether these issues spawned the flood of harsh and hurtful memories, but this has been a difficult, physically tiring, mentally exhausting week.
With the stress of a big non-school contract looming all the staff was on edge. There were issues with the customer, issues with the buses, issues with the drivers ... as usual. The difference this year? I'm not sure, maybe it's all in the estrogen ... maybe I'm going to have to relearn how to deal with stress. Maybe the difference is the operation supervisor dealing with her husband who has been ill for a while now. Maybe it is the manager being stressed out over the corporate baboons and all the new policies and reports. Whatever the reason, it all came to a head on Friday.
After what seemed like my 5th text message or phone call while I was trying to get ready for work Maggie called. "Hi, when are you going to be here?"
"Well, I trying to put my left shoe on so I can walk out the door." I was a bit snappy by this point already. The details of the conversation are not important, but I felt like I was the criminal on the stand with the prosecution grilling me. I was getting angry.
I was not angry at Maggie; I was angry that the same problems keep reoccurring ... over and over ... time after time ... miscommunication, failure to follow through or flat out not following directions, blaming me for mistakes they made ... and because I am head of the department I have to eat the responsibility.
I was finally driving to work. I had decided to stop at the tire shop in town to get my air pressure checked.
My phone rang again.
It was Maggie again. She was upset that another driver who is recertifying has not followed through on what he was instructed to do. He did not take his written test and failed to come in for training. He flat out lied to her when asked what he was instructed to do, but Maggie is tired of drivers waiting until the last second to take their tests ... and so am I.
I was fed up. I asked, "Please tell me how I can force a person to go to the CHP office and take a test."
She continued to vent her frustration.
"I don't disagree with you, but you did not answer my question." I'm sure my words sounded very sharp by this point, but I was about to go absolutely mental. "How can I force a person to go to the CHP and take the test?"
She did not actually have an answer. The conversation wound down ... but I didn't. I was still aggitated nearly to tears when I pulled into the tire shop.
"How can I help you ma'am?" The worker walked toward my window.
I was flustered and not prepared to talk in my female voice. I stumbled, babbled and sounded like the stereotypical, ditsy, helpless woman. Finally I was able to utter, "Can you check my tire pressure?"
He checked and filled all the tires. "You're good to go. Have a good day ma'am."
I drove to work. I actually did not dawn on me that I was treated like a lady for a few hours. I kept thinking about my exchange with my manager. I rarely let my emotions dictate the course of a conversation ... and I never engage in debate when the other party is angry; I try to difuse the emotions to discuss the issue rationally.
But I didn't .. I engaged ... and I not only engaged I fired off my attitude at my manager with questions that have no answer as she was doing to me.
The offensive verbal salvo did not stop there. When I got to the office I tracked down the two trainees in question who were not completely accurate with their version of the truth when talking to Maggie and asked very pointed questions about what their responsibilities were in the situations.
I did not yell ...
I did not blame them for anything ...
But I did not pull any punches. I made their responsibilities perfectly clear and let them know that I was not going to allow them to fail on their part of the deal and blame me for it.
I then called the driver that lied about me ... I was not so kind to him. Every excuse he regurgitated I shot down or turned around to put the responsibility back on him. I basically blew him out of the water.
Then I talked to Maggie.
I was calm. I let her know I was not angry at her, but was very frustrated at the ongoing situation of trainees and drivers not following directives.
She was not angry.
She told me it's a new aspect emerging in me, and she will have to get used to it. She did say I will need to learn to control it.
Then she proceeded to tell me about the incidents from earlier in the day ... incidents that would have, and nearly did make me go absolutely mental. This on top of the other incidents dealing with this extra contract were just too much to deal with.
By the end of the conversation we were laughing and joking as usual ... but the incidents didn't stop.
I slept for 10 hours Friday night ... and I still felt exhausted all day Saturday, but I promised my manager I would do some pseudo-espionage work for her. I decided to stay in dude mode ... I didn't shave, no makeup, a slightly feminine top, but more unisex than girly. I did carry my purse, that has become a habit.
I cannot give a lot of details, but I will say that Pam and I took a trip to another bus yard to take some pictures. After my mission we enjoyed lunch together then did a bit of grocery shopping. As we got to the checkout, the clerk said, "How are you ladies today?"
I grinned ... I grinned for 30 minutes.
Something so simple does not undo all the stress, nor does it take away the harsh memories from the past, but it is a simple reminder that I am learning to be comfortable as me. That even in "dude mode" I am more Tiffanie than I am him.
We ended the day going to the ocean so I could take some pictures. I love photography ... it relaxes me ... I see things in a different way and can share the beauty and emotions I see through my lens. After we got home I was lucky enough to see a wonderfully beautiful sunset.
There are times that despite how rough things may seem, despite your fears, your nightmares or your misgivings, you realize just ho blessed you are ... and you grow as a person.