Home » Uncategorized » Being the puppy rather than the wolf

Being the puppy rather than the wolf

I was travelling on the Eurostar recently and for once (I have to say normally it behaves itself) the train was late on departure from Brussels. I travel so much that now I have the luxury of lounge access all the time and therefore made the best of it and sat there with my glass of wine, plate of nuts and newspaper and tried to relax.
I noticed that it was about five minutes after the train was announced late that the wolves began to circle the Lounge staff in a threatening manner. Needless to say these were the male and female wolves in smart suits. You know them, the breed of executive wolves that bare their metaphorical teeth and growl threateningly behind a thin veneer of civility.
‘Why is the train late?’
‘This is not acceptable!’
‘I don’t pay this much for this kind of service!’
You can fill in your own additional growling comments.
Throughout this the two lounge staff – who of course had nothing to do with delay and were themselves reliant entirely on the information they were being fed – huddled together for safety and tried to maintain an attitude that was professional, pleasant and as helpful as they could be in the circumstances.
It was not pleasant to watch never mind be on the receiving end of the abuse – for that is what it was – that these people had to survive. Needless to say I spinelessly did nothing to help, although I did remember to do the bare minimum and to say thank the poor sods for their stoicism as I left to eventually board the train.
What makes us think that this sort of behaviour is acceptable?
Unfortunately it is all too easy for me to think of the times and places that I now regretfully look back on where I am not happy about my own behaviour.
Shops spring to mind as one possibility (when that thing you ordered has not arrived as promised for example). Bank clerks (including the poor lad trying to manage us through our last mortgage and struggling with getting us through the increasingly pointless “just-so sacrifices” to the dread checklist we had to provide before we could seal the deal – needing to print 20 pages of our online bank account being the straw that very nearly broke this camel’s back).
Maybe at restaurants or bars (you should have booked guys); security guards at airports (a particular rich strain of annoyance for a lot of people and possibly the worst place to be anything other than polite – if you want to catch your flight).
Actually I think I might have invited Mr Grumpy to take over my social interactions more times than I would like to remember. The fact I felt terrible immediately after snapping at someone does not absolve me from the fact I did in the first place. Just because my bark is a lot weaker than my bite (more of a nibble, really) doesn’t make my bark any less annoying.
None of us are perfect and quite often the anger is coming from something we feel keenly. Some of the wolves of Brussels had long and tiring days and just wanted a smooth ride home. Maybe they had connections, or an important family event to get back for. Fear and despair is a strong driver that does make us take out our ire on our fellow human beings. But understandable does not mean it is alright. I need to get better at controlling my emotions and being more positive; the man who smiles through adversity may find it hard, but I can pretty much guarantee that we will not end up in a worse place than the one who barks and will feel a lot better about himself afterwards. I have enough guilt to get rid of from my past forty odd years without generating more. So I guess I had better play nicely with the other kids. And if I cannot be nice, then be polite, calm and factual, and remember too that the word “sorry” is also a powerful and positive tool to keeping ourselves from each other’s throats.

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