When I was little, my mother used to say that this poem reminded her of me:
There once was a girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good, she was very, very good,
But when she was bad, she was horrid.
(That poem doesn't work in American, as 'forehead' has to be pronounced 'forrid'!)
I'm still like that. Most of the time, I'm a pretty good person. Then, from time to time, I metamorphosize into someone really horrible.
Like the Incredible Hulk, my trigger is anger.
I don't often get angry, but when I do you have to STAND BACK.
One of the reasons I knew I had to quit drinking was because I was getting angry more often.
Alcohol is rocket fuel for anger. When we drink we become tunnel visioned - unable to see anyone else's perspective. And we lose our inhibitions - we just don't see the STOP signs any more.
Drinking heavily makes us angry even when we're NOT drunk. When you're addicted to alcohol, you spend a lot of the time in low level withdrawal, which makes you tetchy and edgy - a bit like PMT. You're way more likely to lose control given the slightest provocation.
There are often stories in the press about celebrities going ballistic after a few drinks.
Jeremy Clarkson famously decked a producer over a row about a plate of cold meats (see my post: Alcohol Induced Rage).
Kate Moss and Gerard Depardieu have both been escorted off aeroplanes after drinking too much and going tonto (see my post: Drinking and Sexism).
Mr SM is still scarred by the time when I lost it with the dentist receptionist (it was a Saturday morning and I was hungover), and she threated to remove the whole family from the list.
Once I'd calmed down, I was mortified. It's just not fair to lose your rag with people who are only trying to do their job.
So, yesterday I had a classic red mist episode.
We have a large (and getting larger) crack on the car windscreen from where we were bombed by a small stone on a motorway in early December. We were thrilled when the insurance people said we were covered, and gave us the number of a 'mobile windscreen repair service' who would come to our house and fix it. Yay!
(They are called Auto Windscreens. Never use them).
But FOUR TIMES we've fixed an appointment, and FOUR TIMES we've been cancelled. And they don't even bother to tell you in advance. You wait in all morning, eventually calling up to discover that the 'technician' is ill/running late/hampered by rain/forgotten about you.
The first time this happened I was zen. I'm sober. I've got through cancer. These little things don't bother me any more.
The second time I was a bit miffed. Another morning wasted. But, ho hum, things could be worse.
The third time I was CROSS but polite. The fourth time I yelled a bit, and they promised someone from 'Customer Services' would call me straight back. They never did.
Then, yesterday, a Saturday, we got an e-mail confirming that the technician was definitely coming. Between 2.15pm and 4.15pm. Result.
At 4.30 I called them. I was put on hold and played tinny music for twenty minutes.
Eventually the phone was answered by a poor, unsuspecting chap called Kevin. He confirmed that, due to rain and the dark (both of which are fairly predictable in February) the technician would not be coming after all. I went ballistic. I said something like this (all the smalls were listening in, and sniggering, in a slightly scared way):
"THIS IS THE WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE I HAVE EVER COME ACROSS. I HAVE SPENT WHOLE DAYS OF MY LIFE WAITING FOR YOU USELESS PEOPLE TO SHOW UP. I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR NEARLY THREE MONTHS. I LIVE IN CENTRAL LONDON, NOT OUTER MONGOLIA. I AM GOING TO TELL EVERYBODY HOW APPALLING YOUR COMPANY IS...."
But then, I paused. I saw the STOP signal. I thought about it from Kevin's perspective.
I remembered that Kevin is just doing his job. On a Saturday. He's just the poor bloke who happened to answer the 'phone (after twenty minutes on hold). So I took a deep breath, and said:
"I'm so sorry, Kevin. I know this is NOT your fault. You sound like a really nice bloke, and you're just doing your job. But your company really is seriously shite, and you should go and work for somebody more efficient. Then you wouldn't have to put up with horrible people like me yelling at you on a Saturday when you have better things to do."
And, you know what? Kevin laughed. We parted as friends. A technician is, apparently, coming next Saturday (ha ha).
The children looked at me, astonished. #1 said "Mummy, I can't believe you started giving him career counselling!"
Well, still not nice. Still a bit horrid. But less horrid than I was. Baby steps....
Love SM x
P.S. If you are from Auto Windscreens, or their PR/marketing company, and you have found this post by Googling 'Auto Windscreens angry customers' then please give Kevin a promotion and pay rise - if he hasn't taken my advice and resigned already. Thank you.
P.P.S. I thought about deleting this post when one of my readers commented that I sound like a patronising 'dry drunk'. I had intended to be kind and empathetic, and am horrified at the idea that I might have just been patronising. I'm obviously still a work in progress....