I thought leaving my tech support job would would give me a laid-back, zenlike approach to dealing with other people. Boy was I wrong.
I'm not sure when exactly I went from being a big hippy-dippy lovemuffin to someone who could no longer drive down the street without dropping F-bombs at everyone who dared to drive in front of her. A year ago, I would have said it was my job's fault. I worked in tech support for six years, helping old Southern men who should have retired a decade ago find their Start buttons so they could sell insurance for my corporate overlords. (Protip: It's the thing that says “Start”.)
After eight hours of that a day I was, as I loved to say, out of fucks to give. I had no patience whatsoever for stupidity –- or what I perceived as stupidity, which could just as easily be something perfectly reasonable like tiredness or distraction or miscommunication –- and it bled into everything else I tried to do.
Shopping became an ordeal, especially since my office job meant I couldn't do it during off hours. Automated check-outs were either the best or the worst thing ever depending on whether they were all being taken up by people who didn't seem to understand basic concepts like barcodes and item limits.
Social life? No thanks, I'd rather stay at home with my ferret, who was far less irritating than any friends I could possibly make out there even if his favorite pastime was knocking everything single thing on the coffee table onto the floor.
At one point, a friend from my World of Warcraft guild pointed out that if I wanted to go into the big multi-person raid dungeons I was going to have to tolerate at least nine other human beings at the same time, and if I couldn't do that I was going to have to accept that that part of the game wasn't going to work for me.
I thought everything would be better once I left that job. I thought my poor battered psyche would heal and I would have the infinite patience and tolerance of a Buddha. I mean, I used to be a kind, generous sort of person. If I'd ever had any spare money to speak of I'd totally have given lots of it to charities! I loved animals, and I thought IT would be a good fit because I was very patient with computers.
I was good tolerant left-wing social justice person! All I needed was to make that jump to freelance work where I got to control how much I had to deal with other people -– especially stupid other people with stupid questions that they won't accept my answers for –- and everything would be okay.
It turns out that regardless of what race or religion you are, whether you're cis or trans or straight or gay, if you slow down in front of me in traffic to make a right turn you are immediately the worst person in the world and I hate you. Taking too long to pass so I can make a left turn? I am uttering profane curses against your offspring for generations.
And it's not just road rage, though my conviction that my ancient Volvo wagon is indestructible makes me far too brave and aggressive behind the wheel. When faced with a bidder on an eBay auction who was dragging his heels sending me money I seriously considered taking his address and finding a site that would send hissing cockroaches to his home.
Trips to a very upper-middle-class neighborhood near my apartment pretty much always involve me pulling out my phone to tweet things about capitalist pigs in gigantic SUVs being first against the wall when the revolution comes and how high school Boys' Lacrosse is the sport for jocks too racist for the football team.
I actually did end up quitting World of Warcraft in part because I couldn't tolerate nine other human beings at the same time, and I've avoided getting into any other massively multiplayer games since then -– I'll just stick to nice single-player Skyrim, thanks, where the stupidest thing I have to deal with is my in-game companion's programming.
I'm rarely mean to anyone's face -– I still try to pretend to be a hippy-dippy lovemuffin -– but the moment I'm out of earshot I spew vitriol worthy of any cranky old lady sitting on her porch yelling at the kids to get off her lawn. And sometimes I am mean to the face of some poor chump who got my order wrong or cut in front of me in line.
I used to be too anxious to confront people, but not anymore. I'm still (usually) nice to my BFF-slash-roommate, but that just means he's the one who has to hear me muttering elaborate plans to get revenge on all the people who have...kind of annoyed me a little bit or inconvenienced me for like three seconds.
“You are so mean!” he'll tell me as I threaten to run down someone dawdling in the crosswalk in front of Target, pointing out that it probably won't even dent my enormous tank of a car. “Settle down.”
If my tiny apartment had a lawn, I'd totally be yelling at kids to get off it. Instead I just get worked up at the neighbors for letting their friends park in my space. IT'S GOT MY APARTMENT NUMBER PAINTED ON IT FOR A REASON, YOU TROGLODYTES!
What happened to cause this Pokemon-esque evolution into Crankyoldladychu? Maybe the psychological damage from my tech support job and years of used-book-shop retail before it went deeper than expected. Maybe something about having to talk to stupid people every day without being able to call them out on it broke something inside me.
Maybe I'm just old and my lifetime supply of fucks has been depleted. (Yes, I am REALLY FOND of the idea of “giving a fuck” as an actual transaction.) Perhaps in a couple years I'll be writing about finding inner peace and love and all that garbage. Or perhaps I'll be too busy yelling at the people at the next table in the coffee shop who're talking too loud. SHUT UP!