I swore (which I rarely do) at a guy in a construction zone who made me turn around and walk blocks out of my way, for saying “I am sorry for your inconvenience”, because I know, good and well, that NO ONE on God’s green, but rapidly browning, earth gives one accursed tenth of a rat’s hindquarters about my convenience. He was just parroting what he was trained to say to crazy people. When I got home I realized that I needed to stay home for a while.
I shouldn’t have broken that silence (and I didn’t yell, he may not have heard me since there was a lot of construction noise), but I was already in tears and trying to get a few things done quickly so I could get home and melt down in peace.
The silences I should break are not with a stranger in a construction zone. They are with people closer to me. But the words are never there and those people are full of their own joys and concerns, fears and stresses. I get it, but I still feel a bit like a sacrificial washer being squished out of shape between other people’s rough edges.
Even saying “should” is debatable. There is a tension between the “if you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all” and “tell it like it is” camps. I grew up in the era where those two were competing with each other in our culture.
My mother would always say “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all”, but she did not come close to practicing what she preached. It was a standard for others. Mostly trotted out when something said was not to her liking. “Tell it like it is” was for her, not anyone who might make her feel uncomfortable.
With that upbringing, being a non-confrontational sort, I developed a different philosophy:” try to find something honest to say that which will make other people feel good”. It doesn’t have a catchy ring to it. More importantly, it can be very difficult to find the right words, so, more often than not, silence it is!
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Break the Silence.”