So I have this cube neighbor...let's call him Gilbert. I have posted once here about Gilbert, though I hesitated even to post that. I have had many, MANY, other things I considered posting here about Gilbert. But I resisted. Though I don't think my little blog is very heavily trafficked, and those who are reading - as far as I know - are my friends, who all know about Gilbert anyway, it didn't seem right to post somewhat unkind (but FUNNY, oh, I'm telling you, that Gilbert is prime material, my friends!) stories about him. The first blog I ever started reading was Dooce. Heather Armstrong is a wonderful writer. And when she first started writing her blog, she worked as a web designer and she posted things about the people she worked with and for. Eventually, they found it, and she was fired for it. I tucked that away as Lesson #1 in Blog-Writing - don't blog about work! So I don't blog too much about work, and I don't blog anything about work that I would be overly embarrassed for my boss and/or co-workers to read. Except for that entry about Gilbert. I'm not entirely sure how he would feel if he read that entry and recognized himself, or what I would say if he confronted me about it.
Over the last week or so, there have been a couple of very entertaining (to me and my friends) stories about Gilbert, and I have sent them via e-mail to a group of people with whom I normally share these kinds of things. Some of them are co-workers of both mine and Gilbert's. Others are outside of our company. I sent one earlier this week, as a matter of fact, and as I was typing and sending it, there was something troubling me, though I couldn't exactly put my finger on it. I almost didn't send it. But it was really funny, dammit! And I am nothing if not a laugh-whore, so I did send it. I love to be able to tell a story - SELL a story - to someone and get them to laugh. And they did. But then one of my co-workers and friends pulled me aside to very delicately tell me that maybe I really shouldn't be sending that kind of stuff in e-mail. It isn't in accordance with our corporate value of respecting all people. And she is right. That's what was bothering me. I knew it was wrong. Yes, it's funny, because he's different and he farts (OUT LOUD) at his desk and he talks about the books being cooked every day and he obsessively watches the happenings of his stock market portfolio. But here's the trouble: we're laughing at someone else. We - and in particular me - are being catty high school girls who are laughing at the kid who's not part of our cool club, who dresses a little differently and looks and acts a little odd. Ouch. When did I turn into THAT?
I wasn't that girl when I was in middle school or high school. If anything, at times, I was the object of those discussions. So what happened to me?!? I turned into a laugh-whore, that's what happened. If they're laughing WITH me, they aren't laughing AT me...wow, I guess some of those high school insecurities have lingered, haven't they? And knowing that I have these lingering insecurities, I have to stop myself and put myself -back- in Gilbert's shoes. It doesn't feel good to be excluded. To be laughed at. Especially in a place you can not avoid, like work or school. It makes a sometimes unpleasant experience all that much worse. And one of the the traits I want most in the world for my children to posses is politeness. Kindness. I really do believe that many problems of the world could be avoided or corrected if people were just a little more polite. So what am I doing?!? This isn't the person I want to be and it certainly isn't the person I want my kids to be. This is the laugh-whore, begging for people to like her.
So, though I'm a little late in getting started, and I feel a little sheepish about making my Lenten sacrifice be something I should already be doing/not doing, I've decided to use the season of Lent to try to put myself back on the right path. Sometimes, everyone needs to vent, and there are always people who we won't get along with. So I'm not going to say that I'm never going to say anything negative about another person. I'm human, c'mon. But I'm going back to the wisdom that if you can't say it TO someone, you shouldn't say (or write) it ABOUT someone. Simple. Obvious. But apparently, my brain is trying to re-write junior high and I've forgotten. So now I'll just have to go back to laughing at my own stupidity. And believe me, there is plenty of material to work with there. We could start with all the ways in which I have successfully embarrassed myself...oh, those are good times...and then of course there are my expert parenting skills. If only the SuperNanny knew about me, she could fill a whole season!
And before I forget, thank you, my friend, for saying the words that I didn't know were in my head and pulling me back out of junior high. Apparently, the bad hair styles and questionable clothing choices just weren't enough to keep me away.