I’ve come to loathe passive-aggressive behavior. Maybe it’s me getting older and more persnickety, but to me, it’s more aggressive than outright aggression—it is often cowardly, petty, presumptuous, narcissistic and arrogant.
Really, if you flip me off on the road, I’ll be much less likely to road-rage you into a ditch than if you suddenly pull in front of me in an obviously irritated fashion and start driving 10 miles under the speed limit.
Today’s early dose of passive-aggressiveness? I return some books and a DVD to the library. I exit the library behind a woman. She opens the door. I follow, and say “Thanks.”
Admittedly, that “thanks” is very quiet, as my voice caught while I was saying it. Also, the woman chose the door that is the handicapped-accessible automatic door (why people do this, I don’t understand, as it’s harder to push open manually than the one right next to it), which makes a loud whirring sound regardless of whether it’s opened by button or by hand.
So, I guess she didn’t hear me. Because when we passed through the next set of doors a few seconds later through the other side of the small entryway, she advances a couple yards and then says, darkly, without looking back at me, “I opened the door for you. You’re welcome.”
It’s the kind of thing that make me want to be passive-aggressive in return, and say, “What a pity you didn’t hear me say that.”
But what do I gain? Nothing. Except that I’m the last dick standing. I get the last douchey word. So I held my tongue and muttered those things quietly to myself to bleed out the venom.
I guess some small part of my compassionate side hopes she got some pleasure or satisfaction over “getting” me for what she perceived as a slight.
But really, folks, why do this?
If I hadn’t said “thanks,” will shaming me make it all better? If I said “thank you” again, would you feel happier? Why do you need my validation to make you happy? Why do you need to force something from me?
Let’s say I hadn’t said “thanks,” even though I did.
How do you know I didn’t just get news last night that my dad died? How do you know I didn’t just finish a horrid argument with my wife? How do you know I’m not suffering from laryngitis or maybe even that I’m mute? Or, as the truth is: That I’m a soft-spoken guy whose voice went way lower and was drowned out by a noisy door?
There’s a lot of anger in society these days; more so, I think, than has ever really existing in my lifetime. We all seem to be carrying huge chips on our shoulders and we’re just waiting for a chance to lash out.
Here’s another thought: Let’s not do that.
Or if we’re going to, how about let’s do it on Twitter or something instead of pissing on someone for walking behind you through a door you needed to open anyway?