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07/07/2003 Archived Entry: "I effing hate passive aggressives!"

JUST A PERSONAL RANT. NOTHING TO DO WITH POLITICS. But I effing hate passive aggressives. You know these folks. We ALL, god forbid, know these folks. The question is, how does anyone stand them?

In their "nicest" manifestation, these are the people who'll tell you oh they really don't care which movie you go to ... whatever the rest of the group wants to see is just fine, absolutely fine, with them. And only after everybody's got their popcorn and is settling down in the darkened theater to see "Terminator 3" do they make sure to announce in a teeny little humble voice that they really, really would rather have gone to "Legally Blonde 2" instead, but of course what they want really doesn't matter as long as everybody else is happy seeing "Terminator," even if they themselves simply can't stand action movies and plan to be completely bored, not to mention morally offended by the violence, for the next two hours.

A lot of their manifestations are a lot less nice. My own personal childhood was blighted by Mr. Champion Passive-Aggressive himself, whose particular form of the game was to take offense at some tiny little thing nobody else even noticed, then to build up a big, brooding head of steam for a month ... two months ... literally in some cases decades ... during which time if anyone asked him what was wrong he'd snarl, "NOTHING!" The notion of simply talking to the alleged offender about the alleged offense ... well, that would have been unthinkable! After all, that would have meant stooping to their level. Then suddenly one day the dog would poop in the wrong spot or

somebody would wrinkle the sports section of the newspaper -- and holy hallelujah! -- screaming and cursing and punching and belt-whipping and wild accusations about things nobody but Himself could even comprehend, as months or years of emotional glop came thundering out. Ah, the bliss of childhood. You can flipping HAVE it. (And you can take your "traditional family" with it while you're at it.) But in any case, that may be one reason why passive-aggressives give me the Super Wonky Willies.

Just this weekend I was on the periphery of an encounter with another hopeless PA. She was a volunteer with a dog-rescue group who wanted to -- and did -- take in animals the rest of the group already said there was no money, time, homes, or medicine to care for. Then she would announce that the new, unhealthy, untrained, unneutered stray animals were our responsibility and when were the rest of us going to come and get them? When we said NO, Suzanne, and please don't do that until we have more homes ready, Suzanne, she would: 1) apologize in the most groveling manner for being SO wrong, SO stupid, SO bad, when everybody else was SO much smarter than she, 2) threaten to quit the organization and 3) turn around and do the exact same thing a couple of days later, and 4) do anything but actually talk about alternative ways to help the animals she claimed to love.

This is the thing with passive-aggressives -- this refusal simply to put the problem out in the open and deal with it is what makes the passive-aggressive such a terror. It's the common element in all three of the above scenarios. You can't solve a problem because the problem can never be openly discussed. The agenda is always something other than the apparent situation, always something emotional, something hidden, and the creepy PA is always the one in charge of that agenda and the agenda is always secret from you until you're smack in the middle of it.

I suspect there really is something political in this rant, after all. There usually is. Certainly the agenda our leaders place before us ("It's for the security of the nation" or "It's for your own health") isn't the real agenda at all. And just as certainly any attempts by reasonable people to point out that the real aims is met with total resistance, and ultimately with explosions of violence. And you can never get a rational discussion going, or rationally solve problems, in such circumstances and with such people -- people like Sen. Orrin Hatch, who tell you that the destruction of the Bill of Rights is good for the Bill of Rights and for freedom. Which may not make Orrin Hatch a PA, but which certainly makes getting at and solving the real problem just as elusive. But for the sake of getting on with my Monday, now that I've gotten that clingy passive-aggressive goo off my chest, I'll let you figure out the political implications if you're so inclined. And I'm going to get back to work. Feeling so much better now.

Posted by Claire @ 01:34 PM CST

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