Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Shrill and Steady

A sophisticated lady

Last week I had to negotiate and wrangle over a business matter. Neither are something I do well. It was awful. I was distressed and slept poorly.

I made at least two phone calls per day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, regarding the situation. I repeatedly missed return phone calls, just by chance.

Like I said, I'm not good at wrangling. I don't like confrontation. But...I'm not good at waiting. And, I like resolution. I like it swift. Last, I don't like be the loser, but I can be part loser. I can live with that. People are complicated, right?

After four days of dicey phone calls and voice mails, I turned to person in my life who doesn't mind confrontation. My husband.

I turn Jared on the screwy phone company or internet provider. He worked with our real estate lawyer on price negotiations, while I handled much of the mortgage paperwork.

Don't get me wrong, I'll crow over injustice. I'll request redress for rudeness. With the quickness, I'll belt out, "Hey! I don't like hitting!" when a bigger kid bonks my kid on the head in the library.  There's just some select situations...

So Jared helped me draft an email, which I cc'ed another party one level up. I sweat after I sent it. I wondered what everyone would think of me. The language was brief and strong. Was it too strong?

The note ultimately broke the log jam, but I still had a to wait several days.

Later, while relating the story to others, a colleague who had also helped coach me through this, who is also a colleague I really respect, one I consider something of a mastermind, quietly said as we sat around the table, "Don't mess with Rachel."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence," I said.

I had felt, all the previous week, completely lacking in confidence. I had felt like a shrill, nagging, annoying female. And, you know what, I really don't like being put in that situation. Nope, not one bit.

I was pissed off, but really had a hard time putting it all together. Men can be bold, ask for what they want. Sure, they have to be smart, craft their words, play their cards. But you know, when it's a woman who wants something done, she's shrill, a shrew.

Of course, I feel like I have to apologize to all the great men in my life, and all the men who coach me to be tough when needed, but you know what? That I'm thinking of apologizing means that I'm empathizing with you, fellas. I'm considering your feelings. Return the favor, empathize with me. It stinks to feel shrill, like a nag, like you're begging.

An old girl friend of mine would say, "You're not a 'bitch'. You're 'sophisticated'". She'd emphasize and linger on the second 's', like a hiss. Sophisssticated.

Straighten up, Mackow. You're sophisticated. 

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