Sunday, June 29, 2008

I'm a Chicken

My friend Terese always manages to get into the darndest situations. With me next to her. 

We were shopping for party decorations, and were splitting the cost. I cruised the store while Terese hopped into line to check out. I joined Terese with my full basket and heard a very irritated "harrummmph" from the lady behind us. 

I could sense a brewing confrontation, and OK, maybe it did look like I was cutting in line. All right, all right, I admit I was cutting in. But Terese told me do it. 

I pretended not to hear more grumpy noises coming from the woman next in line. 

"Excuuuuuse me!" Cranky customer's voice raised an octave or two and about ten decibels. 

Um, yes?

"I was here first!"

Um, well, we're splitting the cost of these things, and my friend was holding my place in line, and..........well, if that's OK.....

"No. It most certainly is not OK!" 

Since I did nothing but gape stupidly at her, she steamed away to another line. She also left the store sooner than we did, I might add, for pete's sake. 

My point for telling this story, aside from pointing out Terese's penchant for getting me into trouble, is that I reacted much differently to confrontation in this instance than I might have five years ago. 

Anyone who works in the medical field, or any other customer service type industry knows that confrontation is an all too frequent part of the job. Whether from clients or other co-workers or vendors or families or........well, you know how it goes. 

I have never looked forward to a confrontation, but I have to say that in years past, in my opinion, I held my own in those discussions. Once, a physician asked me to take used dialysis equipment and reattach it to a patient's dialysis machine. I won't elaborate further but that tubing stayed in the garbage bag. 

I think my kids would think it funny if anyone suggested that I avoid conflict. Especially during their teen years. 

I kept thinking about how I felt when accused in that store. I felt those angry words almost physically strike me. My brain ceased functioning and I couldn't find a word to say. I wonder how I would have felt had I crossed paths with someone in a more serious situation. Terese would have had to scrape me off the floor since I am sure I would have disintegrated into a puddle.

In thinking about why my reactions have changed since Sjogren's, my first thought was that I was simply out of practice in arguing., this felt different at a much deeper level. Have I become a wimp? What's the matter with me? 

I am so glad to have so many resources at my fingertips when looking for answers like these. When I scout around on the Sjogren's World Forum site, I find many others who have experienced these same changes. I have read story after story in which others shared the same feelings and experiences. We are not wimps. We are changed people because of autoimmune disease. 

It is reassuring to know that I am not alone in this crummy disease. The opportunities to share, vent, and ask each other the questions that no one else would understand is incredibly valuable. I can prop my feet up on the coffee table, laptop under my fingers, and connect with people all over the world. 

Now all I have to do is figure out how to handle a confrontational Terese when she reads this post. 


Anonymous said...

Heh, we could have taken that lady down between the both of us....AND her kids! I'm there for ya, Jules.

Julia Oleinik said...

Right back atcha, T!