(Gladstone) – I really like the title of the Raging Dad blog. The title alone really caught my eye. I wish I’d thought of that. You see, I come from a long line of raging dads, grandpas, and so on. My grandfather once whipped my Dad (when he was a boy) with a willow switch for leaving a screwdriver out all night. I can remember a few of my dad’s rages and rants.
For the most part, I admired my Dad for his willingness to stand up to anyone. In my eyes, my Dad was superhuman. One time, an inspector was looking over my Dad’s shoulder while my Dad was in a ditch trying to solve some complicated waterline problem (My Dad was a pipeline contractor). The inspector kept giving my Dad advice and telling him what he could and could not do. Twice my Dad told him to leave him alone and to leave.
Not knowing my Dad, and thinking that because he was a government inspector, he didn’t need to listen to this lowly ditch-digger, the inspector stayed. The third time my Dad yelled at him to go. But it wasn’t just the words that were scary, it was the look in his eyes. A sane person would know that my raging dad was insane when he was angry.
In the long run, this didn’t work out very well
Even after the stern, no-nonsense third warning, the inspector had not left. Just then the inspector started to micromanage the situation again. By Dad rose up like Lou Ferrigno and in one loud, booming word, “NOW!!” The inspector turned on his heals and ran squarely into a steel post, which knocked him to the ground.
In the long run, this didn’t work out very well. This inspector hounded my Dad on every job he ever did in that county.
I’d like to say that I’ve learned to control my raging, but that would be a lie. I have learned to be a little more discreet, and there are times when I’ve realized that rage would make things better, but like generations before me, I’ve allowed my lower nature to take control too many times. This morning was one of those times.
From the very beginning, the experience at the Oxford Suites Motel has been less than ideal. From a very late checkin, to too few towels in the room that took at least three calls to correct, I’ve been less than satisfied. The staff seems indifferent to the guests and there has just been one little thing after another.
Like a growing number of people (See this Newsweek editorial), I don’t need, or want, a TV in every venue I frequent. Living in a home without TV makes us even more sensitive to the blaring TVs in public places. So, the first day here, I asked the staff if we had to have the TV on in the dining area. It was crowded and noisy already, the TV just made the cacophony worse. The staff laughed at my joke (but it wasn’t a joke).
When the dining room thinned out, I looked around and no one was watching the blaring news program. What did we care about the morning commute in Portland? So, I asked around, but no one minded if I shut it off. So I did.
Yesterday, the TV was already off and it was bliss
Yesterday, the TV was already off and it was bliss. My kids focused on their breakfast, my wife and I were able to talk with other guests, and it was a much more pleasant experience. Today, I repeated the experience from a few days ago and turned off the TV when I saw no one watching it.
Toward the end of my breakfast a young man in a sport jacket came over and introduced himself as the general manager of the motel. He adjusted his coat a few times, shuffled his feet, and then told me how the kitchen staff were upset that I shut off the TV.
Well, I didn’t Hulk-out on him, but I certainly could feel the rage welling up inside me. In fact, I sat still in my chair, legs crossed in a relaxed pose, but eyes flashing fire. This poor young man, looking like a fresh graduate from Joe’s Used Car Salesman School, tried to defend himself. That’s when I began to share with him the various missteps his staff has taken this past week.
Before the conversation was over, he was apologizing and promising to take action. I told him, I’m not looking to get anyone in trouble; this is a systems issue, not a problem with individual staff (translation: “This is your responsibility.”)
I’m not proud of the way I handled it
I’m not proud of the way I handled it. I was a bit heavy handed and overbearing. It was also embarrassing to my wife. I’m just glad I didn’t rise to my feet and thump him in the chest.
I’m learning, but I’m still continuing on the journey…
(NOTE: I’ve told my wife before that this is the reason people like The Hulk so much. It’s the rage we feel all too often inside; we just don’t have the body to back it up.)