A nice story about how being polite does not mean you allow people to walk all over you.
Hi Miss Jeanne! I wanted to share a story with you from a couple of years ago. It was about the same time that I began reading the stories on your website, and I must say that it really helped me grow a spine. So here goes:
I run an in-home daycare. One of my clients, we’ll call her Mary, had two children placed in my care. Mary was a single mother who lived about 15 blocks away from my home. Depending on the weather, she would either walk or take the bus to drop her kids off at my home every morning. It wasn’t unusual for her to call for a cab in the evening when she picked them up, though, which was always around 5:30 or 6:00. Anyway, my husband and I had plans one evening, on a Saturday (Mary often worked on Saturdays, and our dayhome is considered 24/7), to have friends in for supper. Mary’s kids had been fed by 5:00 and my guests were due to arrive by 5:30 for supper to be served at 6:00.
My guests had arrived, and we decided to wait until Mary arrived and picked up her children before we began to eat. 6:15 rolled around and there was no sign of Mary yet. I tried calling her cell only to get voicemail. So we waited for a few more minutes. At 6:30, my husband suggested we just go ahead and start eating. I was reluctant at first because Mary’s kids were still here, but then decided that since they’d eaten already, it would be ok. So we went ahead and started the meal while Mary’s kids played and looked at television.
At 6:45, Mary finally showed up. I was expecting, as per her usual method, for her to gather the kids together and call a cab. But no. She sat, in my kitchen, watching us eat for 1 1/2 hours. I have no idea if she was expecting me to invite her to join us or not, but I wasn’t about to. Of course, spineless me at the time didn’t want to “be rude” and ask her to leave. *eyeroll* When she finally left, my friend commented that the incident seemed rather creepy.
Another day, we had plans to meet up with those same friends at a restaurant. When Mary arrived to get the kids, I said to her “Well, we will see you in the morning. We have plans for the evening and have to get ready to leave. Have a great night!” and I went to get ready. My husband was all ready to go already and was sitting in the living room at the time, so I didn’t feel bad about leaving Mary at the door. Anyway, about 60 minutes later, after I’d showered, dried and styled my hair, applied my make-up and gotten dressed, I walked out to find Mary still sitting in my kitchen. My husband, bless him, was just as spineless as I was at the time.
I realized one day that I’d grown a spine (with lots of help from this site!) when Mary’s kids both came down ill and I had to take them to see the doctor. They were diagnosed with a contagious, but completely harmless, disease and I called Mary at work immediately and informed her that they would need to leave my home for at least a week. Because she was using public transit at the time, I offered to drive downtown to pick her up, and then to bring them all home so that the kids could get the rest that they needed to get well. I dropped my husband and the kids off at our home and headed downtown.
When I arrived at Mary’s workplace, there was no parking in the front of the building. It was rush hour, with traffic bumper to bumper. I get rather nervous driving in our city’s downtown core, as the streets are not well-planned, and it’s not unusual to get cyclists and pedestrians popping out from behind parked vehicles, so I didn’t see Mary standing on the corner, in front of her building, until it was too late for me to pull over. So I waved at her to let her know I was going around the block.
Because of a transit terminal on the next street, I had to drive around two blocks, which, even in rush hour traffic, only took about 2 or 3 minutes, tops. When I finally got around the block again, I drove to the building directly across the street from Mary’s building because there still was no parking in front of her building. She was already in the process of crossing the street anyway, so I figured “What the heck?! There’s parking right there.”
Well, when Mary got in the car, she looked at me, redfaced and furious. “Why the %#%^ did you do that? You could have just pulled over right *there*!”
“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t. There was no parking there.”
“So? You could have just double parked!” Oh. Yes. That’s a wonderful idea. Let’s just inconvenience all the other drivers out here. *eyeroll*
“Well, I’m sorry. I get rather nervous driving in rush hour traffic. Besides, it only took a couple of minutes.”
“Well, I just don’t understand why the $%$@ you couldn’t have just pulled over! I was standing right there!”
And that’s when I learned that my spine had grown. I turned to her and said very calmly, “Would you rather get out right here and walk home? Because I’d be more than happy to pull over for you.”
That was the end of the argument. Due to many other issues I was having with Mary, she was served a termination notice about 6 weeks later. 0921-10