Like probably everyone, I like to think of myself as a strong, confident person. But lately I've been reminded of my somewhat pathological aversion to confrontation, and it's making me think Serious Thoughts. A lot of it is the typical fear of confronting someone and having them behave even worse as a result, which is why many shitty, shitty neighbors of ours got away with a lot of shitty shit when we lived in apartments. I never stand up to people who cut in line at or crowd me in public even though such behavior makes me unreasonably angry and causes me to engage in revenge fantasies. The dumbest thing, though (probably), is how I never complain at restaurants even when something is clearly not right.
Now, MB and I do go out of our way to be polite and easygoing when we eat out, because Lord knows it's not easy being a server and a lot of people are entitled assholes. Unless the server is blatantly ignoring us, we tend to just go with the flow. And I hate to complain about anything that is wrong about my order, lest we seem high maintenance or pushy. Most of the time it's no big deal, like if the dressing is on the salad instead of on the side. But just in the past few days, there have been two incidents that I'm mulling over and pondering.
We went out with my coworkers last Thursday night to what I'd consider a place in the upper-range of not-fancy but nice. It was a chain, but it's someplace more expensive than MB and I would usually go for a casual dinner. I decided to splurge a bit and order salmon even though it was pricey, and then got a piece of fish that was seriously undercooked. The girl sitting next to me even told me to send it back, but I just kept justifying it by telling myself maybe that's just how they cook it there and I'm too unsophisticated to know the difference. Meanwhile, I'm picking at a meal that cost more than I wanted to spend but now I don't want to eat because it's a little gross and plus I'm not sure I'm supposed to eat undercooked fish right now. All because I don't want to cause a fuss. The hell, self? I'm still stewing over it a bit today, not in a pissed-off way but in a why didn't I just say something way. I didn't want to make the server feel bad, and I didn't want it to be a big deal…I wouldn't have wanted to see the manager or anything. But I totally should've asked for something else instead. I am still annoyed that I paid money for something that was basically inedible.
Then Sunday morning we took Nico out to breakfast and I ordered him a yogurt. The server brought him a fancy yogurt parfait thing instead with bits of granola and chunks of fruit in it. Which, okay, looked awesome, but was (1) not what I ordered and (2) not something Nico would ever agree to eat. I started to scrape the granola off and made an attempt to get him to eat a bit (which wasn't happening since he'd seen that there was STUFF in his yogurt), and then I thought about the salmon. I thought about how lame I still felt about that and how stupid it was to suffer silently for a mistake that could've been corrected. I asked politely if they had plain yogurt instead, and the server was very nice about it and brought Nico a new bowl. And that was it. No drama, nothing. Now everyone reading this is probably thinking "Duh, that's how it goes," but I was absurdly relieved.
Overall, of course, it's no big deal. So I acted in a doormatty fashion and had a crappy dinner experience…so what? But it makes me worry a bit overall, because I want to raise my kids to stand up for themselves. Not to be douchebags or jerks, but to be confident enough to politely speak up when something isn't right. I don't know why I'm such a wimp about this stuff. I don't remember ever being told not to speak up, and my mom is a bit on the abrasive side of the "say what you think" spectrum. I did experience a lot of bullying in elementary and middle school without ever saying anything or reporting it to anyone, mostly out of fear that speaking up would just make things worse. So naturally it never got better until I left that school after eighth grade to go to public school.
I absolutely don't want my kids to go through anything like that, so I'm pondering now what I need to do and watch for and change to do what I can to prevent it. Sometimes the smallest, dumbest thing can start to feel like a "get your shit together" message from life.
Reading: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Playing: Babel by Mumford & Sons