Earlier today, while stopped at a red light, I pulled up Facebook to see what was going on. Of course, in Montgomery, in busy areas, traffic lights last three minutes and sometimes when you are pretty far down the line...you just know that you are going to be sitting through it twice. I've learned that instead of wishing a pox upon the household of the people in front of me...that it is a little more productive to just distract myself with my phone. Yes, the one that I'm not supposed to be looking at while I am operating a motor vehicle. (Except that I'm stopped and I consider that an exception to the rule.)
Yes...be impressed with the maturity. Lord knows it has taken me long enough to pass that virtual course that I refer to as"Not Getting Hyped Up About Things You Cannot Control 101." But lest you become too impressed...know that I passed with a "C-". (I'm currently failing "Not Getting Hyped Up 102" ...but whatever.)
Because most of you know of the existence of Towanda...she of "Fried Green Tomatoes" fame as depicted by Kathy Bates...I thought you might enjoy a condensed version of her "rules for success" so to speak. But back to Kathy Bates...I love her as an actress...but have absolutely no desire to see her in "Misery." Because no. Just no.
But here she is as Towanda...
Towanda is the outward expression of that pent up feeling that I have found is pretty much inborn in Southern women...which makes us tolerate a whole bunch of c-rap ranging from discrimination to sorriness...and everything in between. Most women I know were trained to be peacemakers and peacekeepers and peaceloving individuals. They were taught that others were more important than themselves and that taking care of other people is a virtue. All of which is true, of course, unless everything gets all cattywampus. In case you don't know what that means...it is loosely defined as "seriously out of sorts."
In my life, I have tried to overcome a lot of things. And I've been successful at many of these...with God's help and permission. But there is a side of me...when I am getting jerked around...that shows up when an internal switch moves from "rational" to "Towanda."
In analyzing these various events that have triggered the "switch flip"...I have realized that most of it is common sense...but some of it is just because people insist on bringing it out in me. Intentional or otherwise. Am I blaming others for my behavior? Absolutely not! But much like people that have peanut allergies are wise to avoid Reese's Peanut Butter cups in spite of their fabulousness...there are certain "commandments" that just must be observed. Unless, of course, you'd like to meet Towanda personally.
My children will assure you that this experience is highly overrated. So will the people at FTD...and if you would like to relive that whole experience...here it is http://mypointsintime.blogspot.com/2011/02/ftd.html
Towanda shows up when someone needs to say what needs saying and the wrongs need to be set right. When people need to be spoken to more directly than our genteel Southern heritage traditionally deems appropriate as a general rule.
Here are Towanda's Ten Rules For Successful Living. Which interpreted means...here are ten things to avoid to keep Towanda happy and quiet. Because happy and quiet is better. Much better.
Here we go...
1. Thou Shalt Not be a Bonehead
This goes for every business that I come into contact with, by the way. I have absolutely NO problem calling customer service, writing letters, or slamming a company's Facebook page until someone deals with a "situation."
With people, though, it gets a little bit tricky. Now, at first glance, you might be saying to yourself, "Well, I can do THIS." Of course you can! We all can! That's the whole point. If you are a thinking human being...chances are this will be very easy for you to accomplish without further instructions.
Sadly, NOT so for a certain segment of the population.
Included in this would be people who just can't seem to understand a few simple concepts. Like "sometimes life isn't fair" and "we aren't all winners." See, I was born into a time when there were actual winners and losers. And even worse than that...I was more of a "loser" than a "winner" in many ways who was born into a family of "winners." If you can't understand that pressure...trust me when I tell you it is beyond "not fun."
In spite of what I had hoped for...there were times when I didn't make the team or when I was told "no." When I tried to help people but was way out of line. When I just wanted to find my place...but didn't know that it wasn't where I was at the time. It took me a while to grow into myself.
Some things were just out of my reach and instead of knocking down everyone else around me...which I quickly found was a recipe for disaster...I started actually - genuinely - getting excited for great things that happened to other people. Why be jealous? We can't do everything in this life, you know.
I also learned - the hard way - via Towanda's first cousin...Karma...that that whole "reap what you sow" thing is not just words in a Bible. It is truth. After a bitter harvest or two...you have to decide...do I live free of this or do I just continue being miserable?
Instead of resenting people who could do what I could not do or had advantages I could only dream about...I learned to just admire and support them instead. I can also attest that this way of thinking has brought me a whole lot of joy.
Sometimes in life the winners aren't very nice people (ie Tiger Woods) and sometimes they were unbelievably gracious (ala Tim Tebow). Some of us were made to do big things and some of us were made to promote other people doing big things. It really doesn't matter if you just get on board with celebrating other peoples' successes. Because when you have a success? They'll be cheering for you.
So, don't be boneheaded and whine incessantly because your life isn't what you want it to be. Here's a little secret: Nobody's life is perfect. Trust me on this...and be happy! I mean...if you are reading this...you should thank God for allowing you to read, to own a computer or a smart phone, to be able to see, to be able to retain the words to make sense of them, that you have electricity (or a good battery charged by electricity) and probably indoor plumbing. Seriously, that last one? Huge deal.
The Avon Breast Cancer 3-Day in 1999 and 2000 broke me of my aversion to port-o-lets, and made me forever fully appreciate indoor plumbing. Ever taken a shower in the back of an 18 wheeler with a dozen naked women you've never met with so-called curtains separating you?
2. Thou Shalt Not Make It Harder Than It Needs To Be
Some people in life grab the directions and just take off putting something together. Others ignore the directions and head off into the wild blue yonder of their own accord. Just so you know...I have just described myself and then Big Dave. I am a direction reader...and have no problem asking for help. Big Dave only consults the instructions if there are more than 744 parts, he has something left over, or it won't work. We both eventually get there...we just come at it from different directions.
The only problem occurs when we are trying to put something together...together.
I don't know what your natural bent is...but if you insist on doing dumb stuff like failing to leave on time, forgetting what you are supposed to do and where you are supposed to be, waiting until the last minute, or exhausting yourself for no productive reason...you almost deserve a counseling session with Towanda.
Sometimes I give them to myself...because I am in serious violation of rule #1.
My kids and their friends will tell you that if you want my help...you'd better not even think of coming all up in here at the last minute. I will hurt you. And then hurt your feelings by telling you "no."
This also goes for all of you uber-perfectionistic people that have to have it "your way or the highway" because if I've learned anything from Big Dave in 29 years of our life together...it is Advanced Passive Aggressive Behavior. I'll just laugh and quietly make you wish you hadn't hitched a ride on the Towanda Express.
3. Thou Shalt Not Mess with My Offspring, Family Members, In-Laws, Friends, Neighbors, Church Friends, Sorority Sisters, Classmates, Work Associates, Casual Acquaintances, Or Anything I Support. Like ever.
Yes. Just ask a girl named "Audra" who got all up in someone I "follow" on Facebook's business over a comment about Angelina Jolie. Uh, yeah. Adult women.
Last time I checked...Angelina Jolie isn't really someone I worry about being "bullied." I mean...you weigh less than 100 pounds, have worn a vial of blood around your neck for some inexplicable reason, and have more kids than I can keep up with after ripping off Jennifer Aniston's husband...according to the tabloids...I pretty much think you can take care of yourself...if not teach the seminar.
Audra just couldn't understand why everyone was so upset that she couldn't object to the seriously snarky-lite comment on someone else's Facebook page. Then she just beat that dead horse until everyone jumped her like she had tossed ten dollar bills in the air and yelled "come and get it!" But why could Audra not understand this? Answer: Because Audra is a bonehead (see #1). Time and place, Audra. Time and place.
I can accept "constructive criticism" just like everybody else...which, if truth be told is "not well." But when it comes to someone I care about...take that feeling and multiply it by a gazillion...and that's how I feel if you mess with my kids, my dog, or even Big Dave (who can seriously take care of himself and smile at you while he's doing it.)
If you are a mother...you know what I mean. Let's just say that if my "babies" are in the wrong...I'll definitely call them out. That's my job. If someone thinks that they are going to do that on my behalf...this is pretty much what they can expect...
4. Thou Shalt Not Lie to Me
Hey, it made the BIG "Top 10" so no further explanation needed. It just amazes me how often people will do this for no reason and then create even more "explanations" to cover what I just found out. Because for some reason...I usually find out. In spite of my best intentions not to. Except...
Okay, fine...I won't lie...I Google. Which probably explains why I already know stuff about the people my kids date and they always wonder how I know...
5. Thou Shalt Not Cancel on Me at the Last Minute
Although this is also covered by #1...and #2...it bears repeating. Yes, there are emergencies. And there are times when something comes up that is completely unexpected. Someone is sick. There is a deadline at work that was unanticipated when we set our time to meet. But because you're tired? You don't feel well? You got a better offer?
I think not.
Because if I rearrange my schedule to spend time with someone...I expect the same courtesy.
6. Thou Shalt Not Ask Me to Do Something for You That You Can Do Yourself
This actually happens to me a lot. I don't know if people ask me to do things because they think it will be fun to do it together, or if they just think I'll do it better. I know not. What I DO know, however, is that one of two things will most likely happen: I will agree to do it and spend my (relatively limited) free time doing it...and you won't appreciate it because it won't be the way you would do it OR I will refuse to do it because you are as capable of doing it as I am...and you will act all "funny" because you think I'm not being a good friend.
I lose either way. Please don't make me go there.
7. Thou Shalt Not Utter the Words "I'm So Fat" in My Presence
I realize that your slightly tight jeans are making you feel a little out of sorts. Oh, but please. When your stretch marks have stretch marks or you are in the last trimester of pregnancy...we can talk. No? Well, how about you just shut up and go to the gym or quit eating Snickers bars and drinking three Dr. Peppers a day.
8. Thou Shalt Not Assume I Can Read Your Mind
Although I have a ton of experience in attempting to do this in my work history...in my friendships...it is annoying. If I make you angry...tell me. If it happens repeatedly...you may want to rethink our friendship or your expectations of it.
I'll be doing the same. Because if there is anything that I hate...it is disappointing people.
Because honestly? Who has time for trying to figure out why you are mad at me? Answer: Not me.
Does that mean that you aren't valuable to me and that I don't want to make it right? Absolutely not! I'd just like to skip that whole "pouting/not talking to me/eye rolling" phase if at all possible. I get enough of that from my kids.
9. Thou Shalt Not Whine About Something You Can Easily Fix
If you are in love with your problem...and are unaware of this fact in spite of the fact that you have talked about it incessantly with anyone and everyone who will listen...I'll help you reach...shall we say? An understanding.
Whining can be therapeutic, and I do it myself. We all do! It isn't attractive, but we understand that there is more room "outside" than "inside." So, take whining out for a spin...but please...don't own it...or worse than that...finance it over 60 months. Some of your other friends may not tell you...but...ahem....
You've got it...
10. Thou Shalt Not Take Thyself So Seriously
Intensity is something that can be really attractive...if you are Steve Jobs...but it can also be ridiculous. My kids can attest to this...because Towanda has embarrassed them on NUMEROUS occasions by getting all flustered over someone else's inability to do what they are supposed to do correctly.
I don't know if you are apt to go into "Towanda mode" or if you are one of those who struggles to speak your mind. I used to have a lot of trouble confronting people...but now I will chew someone a new one if the situation warrants it. But I have come to realize that there are some people who are so "out there" that they will never see my point of view and to even attempt to deal with them would be a serious waste of time.
And for heavens sake...don't lose your temper over something stupid and end up getting yourself shot or put in prison for assault or road rage. I know it is a fine line. And yes, that lady who just took your parking place is a total...well, whatever.
But remember to try to respectfully speak your piece. Say what needs to be said without the emotion that normally accompanies this kind of thing. And quit letting other people "control" you by their bad behavior, expectations or unaddressed problems such as perfectionism or control-freakishness. Life is too short for that kind of abuse.
Yes, I expect decent customer service, but I am also incredibly patient with people who are busy and honestly trying. Just acknowledge that I am standing there. I can overlook what I perceive to be a "training situation" and will gently remind them on how the transaction could have gone smoother while thanking them for what went right. But I have my limits.
For instance...I absolutely, positively refuse to put up with people telling me which direction to put the toilet paper on the roll in the bathroom at work or have people guilt me into doing things that I don't want to do.
I'm pretty much over all of that.
Thanks for reading. Towanda thanks you too. :)