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:: Tuesday, April 03, 2007 ::

:: Server Stories: Temper ::
I hate conflict. As mellow a person as I am, people are often surprised when I tell them about the temper I used to have. "I just can't picture it," they usually say. Back when I was younger, if I lost my temper objects would get broken and people might get hurt either physically or emotionally. It was an ugly side of me that I didn’t like and I worked on tempering it enough that I at least now, I lose it very, very infrequently.

The last time it happened was about six years ago. It involved a friend at the time, who for whatever reason, was the kind of guy who liked to push buttons and instigate arguments. He told me a few time "I wanna get you angry just to see how you're like." I didn't think he'd actually follow through. One night he was trying to get me talk about stuff I didn't like talking about, asking very invasive questions, and trying to provoke an argument. I looked across the table and asked him "what are you doing?" "I'm just trying to get under your skin," he replied with a smirk. "Ok, then." I go around the table, grab him by the neck, lift him up and throw him against the wall. Then I punch him in the stomach, and I throw my elbow to his face. As he crumples to the ground, I reach down, grab his neck, get right into his face and say to him - without ever raising my voice - "you happy now, you piece of shit? This is me angry, wanna see more, asshole?" Just before the other guys pull me off of him. He ended up badly shaken and with a black eye.

He tried to apologize later. I told him,to forget about it. He waited for my apology, almost demanding it, but I wouldn't give it to him because as far I was concerned, all I did was give him what he wanted.

We haven't spoken in six years. I'm not proud of that event, but I probably wouldn't have done anything different. If a friend can't respect me enough to not respect my request of "don't piss me off," then I can find better friends.

I've lost my temper since then a few times but fortunately no one got elbowed. A few of those incidents involved coworkers who were assholes anyway. If you've ever worked in a restaurant, you'll learn that, for whatever reason, cooks - regardless of whether they're head chefs, pastry chefs, or just line cooks - are temperamental types. You send back orders with too many changes or substitutions and they go apeshit. Since I've been hired at my current restaurant, I've gotten into shouting matches with a grill cook and on two occasions, I almost got into a couple of fistfights with a line cook.

With the grill cook it was a case of him being a bully that liked to verbally abuse the waitstaff (he was a big Haitian and he liked to pick on the gay and female waiters). A few times, I just shut up and took it because I was new and didn't want to make waves. I finally got fed up. He made a mistake on my order and I told him to fix it and to "hurry the fuck up." He looked at me stunned, amazed that a waiter would have the temerity to talk back to him. "Stop staring at me and cook!" Once he got my dish out, he called me to the prep room, and we had a shouting match before a manager intervened. This happened twice.

With the line cook he was just a crazy guy no one particularly liked but kinda feared because he was also a big guy. We got into a shouting match over something stupid. He finally says to me "let's take this outside" and heads to the door. The smart thing would have been to walk away but for whatever reason, whether I was operating on four hours of sleep, or just feeling brave (read: stupid), I follow him outside. I get into his face (really stupid, since he's about my size, but with bigger arms) and ask "what now, huh? What are you gonna do?" He's probably not used to working with a straight, male waiter who's not afraid to talk back or isn't worried about messing up his hair, but clearly wasn't expecting this response. "Man, you crazy," he says and walks back in.

This would happen again a month later as I was cutting fruit for the bar (should've known better than to piss off a guy holding a knife). He again asks me to take it outside and this time, I hold the knife behind me (again, really, really stupid) and follow him out. As I walk behind him, he looks back and asks me "what you got behind your back?" "You really wanna find out?" (Really, what I'm thinking is, aw crap why did I do this.) He stares at me for a moment before finally saying "man, you fucking crazy" and walking off.

The last incident happened six months ago and neither one of those guys work here any more. But I remember those fights, as well as the one I mentioned earlier, because after each one of those conflicts, I felt like shit afterwards. It wasn't due to any adrenaline from my surge of anger or anything. But each time, on my way home, a wave of remorse would hit me, and I'd spend the rest of the night second guessing myself, wondering if there was another way I could have handled that situation. I never slept well those nights. In most of those cases, the only alternative would have been to back down, but for a guy with even a modicum of pride, that's unacceptable. But regardless, I hated that I let myself get suck in, I hated the way I acted, and I hate the kind of person I become when I lose my temper.

I'll never understand people who openly talk about throwing tantrums, causing scenes, or other things they do in anger, in a way that seem like they're bragging and proud, like they accomplished something. Despite that, I know that anger is part of life whether I like it or not. I'm just still trying to figure out how to deal with it properly. But I hate conflict.

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:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 2:08 AM [+] :: | 0 comments

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