Did you ever get into a confrontation that you've been dreaming about with someone who really gets on your nerves, only to leave feeling you could have said so much more--you could have done better! Well, read on...
As I sit, working away on a manuscript on helping cancer patients cope with illness and the emotional, social, and existential fallout associated with it, plume of smoke slithers it's way into the room and into my lungs. This is cigarette smoke. The irony is tragic and not at all comedic. I live above the most depraved, inconsiderate, life form that just barely meets criteria to be considered a human. Let's call him Mr. C for cretin. I'd like to refer to him as "the jackhole" but I am a lady after all. Mr. C is a middle-aged, unemployed, alcoholic chain-smoker who lives with his elderly, and sickly mother, as her sham caregiver. With caregiver status, he cannot be kicked out of the apartment and probably gets some kind of financial support for the alleged care he provides. We regularly have smoke invading our home, despite relentless complaints to the management, threats of moving, and threats of legal action. He is hated by every other tenant in the building for his smoking and incessant screaming absurdities across his apartment to his mother with the front door open. We now know that he no longer does street drugs, was on the honor roll twice, and is a man, not a woman, but a man. He also has his mother make him meatloaf. He also sings her church hymns punctuated by bursts of emphysemic coughing fits. He is a gem.
Yesterday, on my way to do my "awesome walk" (a lovely trek through the nearby hilly residential area that I cannot afford to live in while listening to the best walking-related playlist ever), Mr. C is standing outside talking to the owner of the property. He immediately confronts me. I've been waiting for the opportunity to verbally castrate this animal for years. But, instead for becoming aggressive and defensive, he starts apologizing to me for the smoke. Wha? Oh this is just pathetic. He starts saying that had he known his smoke was bother the hubs and I, he would have been more careful. He thought it was bothering someone else, who apparently doesn't matter. Stunned, I just keep my poker/skeptical face and just say OK. Apparently, this genius thought that when he smoked in front of his apartment the smoke just "goes up." I said, "yes, right into my apartment through the front door, the back windows, and even the bathroom." The apologies kept coming along with claiming that he's trying to quit. "I have the patch," Mr. C says. Instead of saying, "yeah, well show it to me," I just say OK. Walking away, I start digesting what just happened...and then become furious at myself. I should have said X, Y, and Z! I wasn't ready for this! It's not fair!! It also hit me that this guy was just putting on an act for the owner so he doesn't get kicked out. More anger boils within me. ARG! This is a classic example of the Jerk Store Syndrome: developing a great response to a potential conflict only to be caught off-guard and not being able to use it. Seinfeld fans should know what I'm talkin' about. Mr. C should certainly be returned to the jerk store.
Now, of course, I'll never have the opportunity to let this guy have it ever again. His sneak attack and ensuing performance was essentially a declaration of psychological warfare and being labeled a crazy bitch is not part of our strategy. One strategy we're toying with is coming up with ways to drive this guy nuts. He has a bad temper and has terribly poor judgment so eventually he'll probably threaten us, which will lead to him getting kicked out. Success? I hope. Meanwhile, we're looking for a new place--something that I really don't need to be doing while finishing my dissertation. Why do the inconsiderates always win?!