I have always been a people pleaser. It really bugs me when I encounter anyone who doesn’t succumb to my pandering, and who doesn’t like me. When I was in high school I developed a mad crush on Billy Little. He was a Senior and I was a lowly Freshman. What I loved about him was his singing voice. It was Christmas and he sang “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” and I swooned. I turned myself inside out to get his attention and succeeded with lots of wheedling. We went to the Christmas Formal together, and he sang softly in my ear as we slow danced. To keep him interested I used all my babysitting money to buy him an expensive sweater. He was kind of stunned by the gift, as he hadn’t planned on giving me anything, and I think he was embarrassed. So embarrassed that he broke up with me. I was devastated.
My nickname in Freeport was Feeble, short for Feeble-minded. My “thing” was to act stupid to make people laugh and to like me. I wore my hair in a long braid and as I walked in the hall between classes people would tug on my braid and call out, “Hi, Feebs!” I went home every night with a headache. But it was worth it.
As a teacher at Country Day I was a terrible disciplinarian. The students were wonderful and didn’t need a whole lot of scolding, but at times they would get a little silly and I had a hard time getting things back under control. This failing on my part was always mentioned on my department evaluations, and certain other teachers were angry with me because I didn’t enforce some school rules. Ed Kelly, for example was so angry he trembled when talking at faculty meetings about “Certain People” who didn’t enforce the policy regarding shirts tucked in or punish students for chewing gum. (Back then, our biggest problem was gum. We were a “Gum-Free Campus.” That was before schools all over the country are worried about Guns.) Brian Johnston still brags that he was the only student I ever threw out of the classroom. I have no idea why I made him leave, and I still feel bad about it.
Occasionally a student would be so much a clown that it would drive me nuts. Lance Campbell was an adorable but ADD character who made the class a circus. One day as I was getting madder and madder at Lance, TJ Thorne, an amazing, perceptive person, told me, “Ms. Wilder, throw him out! He will still love you even when you do that.”
I was blown away that he had the insight to understand how fearful I was about being disliked, even before I understood it about myself.
Recently, I got into it with a woman in Black Mt. and it nearly drove me crazy. Ron warned me that I was going to give myself an ulcer. Parking is a big problem on Cherry Street, and what compounds it is that certain people who work in restaurants on Cherry take up the few parking spaces that do exist. This woman was one such person. Every day she would park on Cherry Street, right outside my store window. She worked the lunch shift, and would be there from early in the morning until she left in the late afternoon. It really bugged me, but I said nothing, preferring to suffer in silence over confronting her.
The other day, though, I was sitting outside the shop trying to get some fresh air, when I started coughing and realized a car was running and running and running. I got up to see what was happening, and saw this person sitting in her car smoking a cigarette and letting the car idle. I sat back down, figuring she would be leaving any second, but when way too much time had elapsed, I got up again and went to the car window. “Excuse me,” I said. “But is there a reason why you are sitting here for so long with your engine running?”
“I’m warming up the engine,” she snapped angrily. It was over 80 degrees out, so I didn’t feel that was an adequate reason. “I’ve been parked since early this morning.”
“No kidding,” I thought but didn’t say out loud.
“Well, I am sitting here trying to get some fresh air and I am choking on your fumes,” I told her reasonably.
Before I could ask her to move along, she turned on me, “Look! You are not breathing my car fumes! I have just had work done on my exhaust! So leave me alone.”
I was shocked. If she had just said, “Oh, I’m sorry!” I would have been satisfied, but her attitude made me nuts. She hated me, and I couldn’t stand it. I turned my mind to revenge. I wanted to get even and told local wild man Robby that I wanted him to kill her (too much time in Juvie for me, I guess.) He laughed and said, “Okay. What will you pay me?”
I realized that I was crazy and had better get myself under control or Robby would be locked up for murder. He does take things literally.
She has started parking elsewhere, but I still burn for satisfaction. What is wrong with me? Hopefully after a while I will forget this incident and cool down. And furthermore, I hope Robby doesn’t forget I said I was kidding and get drunk and kill her.