Do two cowards make a right?

15 December, 2009

I don’t really hate anyone. I am irked by many, disinterested in some, and simply don’t care enough to form an opinion about others. On the whole, though, I’m a lover, not a fighter, I’m a good girl who believes there are better ways to spend our precious time than hating. In fact, even when I have the right to be mad at someone, my overwhelming inability to hold a grudge usually prevents me from doing so.

The past few years have seen one major exception to all that, as there are two people, both former supervisors at an old job, whose callousness and cowardice run so deep in their characters that they are, simply, detestable. I am not at all apologetic that I feel that way, nor have I ever tried to excuse my feelings or hide them. These folks are serpentine, and the enigmatic smile of one and blank, mousy-eyed gaze of the other does little to hide the fact that they are swine.

I won’t go into the details of my grievance with them, save to say that it was in their cowardly and unprofessional approach to management that their sin was committed. Thankfully, I recovered from the incident in question quickly, and had managed to avoid these two slimy beasts for a year and a half, although there’s been a handful of close calls (which were accompanied by panic, shallow breathing and sweaty palms). The panic set in because no matter how far “past” the incident I was, I had little faith in my ability to restrain a verbal barrage of insults from hurling out of my mouth before I had a chance to try and stop them.

Last week, that 18 month bastard-free reign tragically ended. The tragedy was two-fold.
A) the longer I went without seeing either ugly mug, the better, as I was sure that the sight of them would make me ill. (I was correct.)
B) I had long imagined the moment when I was forced to address them face-to-face, and the glory of my damnation, the sweet satisfaction of calling these two milksops out for exactly what they are. But instead of a verbal beat-down and a glowing, virtuous success, I found myself betraying myself! I suddenly succumbed to the pressures of so-called ‘maturity’ and ‘niceties’ and was forced to endure not just the phony, inscrutable smile emitting from the face of a jackass, but – mon dieu – suffer a filthy kiss on the cheek from such a hated man, while trying to swallow the sick that rose up in my throat.

Oh, the heartache. I instantly felt empty, defeated. I had lost my chance at revenge; at accusing the most cowardly man I know of being just that, of kicking him in the shins, both literally and proverbially, all in the name of some godforsaken professionalism.

Was I the bigger person? Or did I commit the sin of playing into his delusional fantasy of being universally-adored, of doing no wrong, of being so in charge that his every whim and wish becomes the law of the land?

I felt dirty and ashamed, felt like I had reneged on and disappointed my pride. Worse yet, I’m afraid I’ll never again have the chance to tell him squarely: “Your behavior towards me proves that the only thing more enormous than your ego is your fear. There was never any dignity in avoiding me, in avoiding the truth, in avoiding bad things in an attempt to believe they’re not really there. Live in misery with the knowledge that whatever your title, salary or role in life, you have acted with a cowardice that will not be forgotten, or forgiven.”

… followed by, at least, a knee to the groin.

So who is the worse person? Him, for being an asshole? Or me, for swallowing my feelings when I’ve never before been so right to express them? The last few days have seen me plagued by thinking of all the biting lines I should have said to him. I need to move on, and learn that although I may have let myself down this once, I can take comfort in knowing that I will never, ever let a such a ripe opportunity to speak my mind pass me by again.

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