Bullies and How to treat them
I am writing a lie with the above title as I have no idea how to treat bullies. Actually it is one of the things in life I am working on: my reaction time to bullies. I ran into one at my little gym the other day. Let’s call him “R”. “R” was in the gym when I arrived using the elliptical trainer. I sat down on the exercise bike, put my headphones on, and began my workout. AT first there was calm in this small space as two people worked off their frustrations on exercise machines while reading and listening to whatever. Suddenly all of that changed. “R” received a call on his cell and began to talk about inane stuff in a voice that penetrated my headphones and my brain as well. I felt incredibly annoyed and was unable to focus on my own paper and music. I focused instead on how annoying and rude this behavior was. I thought about how people who use cell phones in places where others are reading or watching TV are really thoughtless. I found myself becoming angrier and angrier. I used most of my Buddhist practices to attempt to overcome this anger. I got nowhere.
At this point I knew I needed to get off the bike and leave the room before I let myself get really mad. I know this sounds ridiculous. I really do. I know I should be able to ignore people who do this kind of thing but I resent people who ignore common courtesy. I believe that we should all live in a respectful manner and it surprises me when I run into people who don’t have the same attitude. It really surprises me when I am in the gym of a private club in Tiburon. What makes me think people should behave better here? Look at Madoff. I bet he belonged to a lot of private clubs.
Anyway, back to that morning…I went to the club office and asked the manager what the cell phone policy was in the club. I was told there wasn’t a specific one but rather one much likes my own idea of how to behave. The club officers thought members would know appropriate behavior.
After learning this you would have thought I would feel vindicated but I returned to the gym and reassembled myself on the bike only to hear “R” address me in a loud voice.
“Is my talking on the cell bothering you?” he asked in a rather belligerent tone.
Here’s where I caved. Instead of simply saying “Yes” and looking him in the eye, I responded “Well, yes, it is, and we do have an unspoken policy that…”
I was interrupted at this point by “R” who said, “I wasn’t asking about unspoken policy, I was asking you whether or not my cell phone was an issue. Well! Yes or no? I don’t need to hear any BS about unspoken policy!!” As he was saying this his voice grew louder and his stance became more aggressive. He was peddling more furiously and I was scared. Here is where I need help. What I should have said was, “Yes, your cell phone conversation bothered me and your behavior now is really out of line!”
I should have said “Does it make you feel powerful and important to bully women?”
I should have said, ““R”! Anger management! That’s all I have to say!
I find it difficult to deal with rude people and I usually avoid them and that is what my next move was. I gathered up my things and left the gym, realizing if I stayed it would have been a battle not to engage with “R”’s angry energy.
In retrospect I am trying not to be hard on myself for not fighting back when people bully me. I know that is the only behavior that stops bullies. I am thinking of signing up for a class in Judo or Karate. I am imagining myself the next time I run into “R” jumping into a ready stance with my hands up ready for the killer hit. Imagining this helps me a lot! I know I will be better prepared next time! I bet “R” will not or at least I hope he won’t. I like to win.