As I was tithe-ing my salary to the God of Bad Eyesight the other day, I shared with the optometrist’s assistant the reason I need two pairs of reading glasses: “It’s my fear of being kidnapped”. Not because of the solitary confinement, but because the kidnappers would probably take my glasses, or they would get lost in the scuffle when they lift me and I wouldn’t be able to read or see anything up close. Which would drive me crazy. But, if I had two pairs, I would do my utmost to secrete one of them somewhere on (or in) my person, and thus would be sorted.
Should the situation ever arise.
Ursula thought this was hilarious, and wondered if I thought a kidnap was imminent. I told her it was probably unlikely given my age and lack of general comeliness or wealth, but then we live in South Africa and there are all kinds out there. So it is better to be prepared than caught unawares. “Indeed”, she agreed, “these days you just never know”. And asked me if I had ever watched ‘The Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt’, a Netflix show in which Kimmie is kidnapped by an evil doomsday cult Reverend (John Hamm) and held underground for fifteen years with three other women. “Oh man, you have to”, she said, “it’s your sense of humour and Tina Fey wrote it.”
So I did.
The show begins with the women’s rescue, which is followed swiftly by an appearance on the Today Show (as these things do). During the interview Matt Lauer asks each woman how she ended up in the bunker: one of the other ‘Indiana Mole Women’ responds: “I had waited on Reverend Richard at a York Steak House I worked at, and one night he invited me out to his car to see some baby rabbits, and I didn’t want to be rude, so…here we are.” That just killed me. I rewound it 10 times to make sure I had the quote right. Fey and her writers are smart. It is so damned true. It’s exactly the sort of thing that gets us into trouble. But here’s the kicker – Lauer responds: “I am always amazed at what women will do because they’re afraid of being rude.”
I have found myself doing so much not wanting to be rude that I am constantly accepting other peoples nonsense. I am not entirely sure how this came to pass, it never used to be the case. But I suspect that my retraining as a counsellor and Carl Rogers’ humanistic approach of ‘no judgement’ and ‘walking a mile in other people’s sweaty bullshit-filled moccasins’, had a lot to do with it. That, plus quitting my job and learning that my boss had made my life hell because he “just didn’t like me”. I have swallowed hard in the face of incompetence, bad behaviour, repeated bad behaviour, carelessness, selfishness, lies and general all-round-lazyassedness by people who were being paid to provide a service. It has not been easy. Frankly, for someone who has always spoken her mind, it was torture at times. And I deserve a medal. But – it’s a decade on, and it’s over.
I’m loving the new glasses – life has swum back into focus. And, in celebration, I am cleaning out my mental closets … no more miss nice lady. So dear reader, in case you, too, have been bamboozled: here are a dozen things you do not owe a damned soul:
- your friendship
- your time
- your loyalty
- a justification of your values and priorities
- a yes when you want to say no
- assistance in locating their happiness/bliss/joy/sense of humour
- an apology when you are not sorry
- changes to your appearance
- air-time for any moaning, bullshit or bad choices
- false compliments or humouring
- any answer other than the truth
and then the one that covers all of the others
- acceptance of anything that goes against your gut
(PS: and no more of letting a man convince you to admire his baby rabbits… Ok? Unless, of course, you want to.)
(Carrot image via Vogue. Kingfisher found swimming in Facebook)