By Lynn Moncus
Have you ever had an acquaintance who seemed to enjoy putting you down inorder to feel superior or simply in order to bruise your feelings if possible?
I think most of us have met such people along the trail and have had a few thoughts about letting them fall off the bluff at the end of that trail.
After I retired from that rather lengthy teaching career, such a person introduced me as “a has been teacher’ and sort of got my attention. Most of the time I try to remain fairly calm in order to consider the source, but now-and-then, I may come back with a few unprintable remarks. Well, I managed to remain calm the first time, that person made the unkind remark and did a little thinking about why it had sort of upset me.
As we know, “a has been” is not a person for whom we have a great deal of respect, and I guess I was a bit testy because I didn’t think I had lost a chance to receive respect.
I had almost forgotten the incident until it was repeated a few weeks later. That time, I still remained calm, but managed to use my dad’s quiet voice while saying, “I’d much rather be called ‘a once was’ than a has been if you don’t mind.”
For some reason, I received a rather deadly glare, but I merely smiled and went on about my business. Yes, I felt a little better and thought I might have stopped that annoying person or at least caused a slight pause.
Again, I let the incident slide into history and went on building that new life inretirement. One more time, the unkind person made the same mistake and caused me to be the one to pause. That time I mentioned the notion of preferring to be called a “once was” and then added that I could continue to think of myself as “I still am.”
Obviously, that remark had to be explained as the blank chalk board needed to have some dust spread about. I merely said that I still am a teacher and always will be because I didn’t retire from my profession, only from my position. I then made another remark or two about manners and the need to learn to use them.
Yes, I was still a bit bruised, but I felt better by coming up with two suitable ideas in order to replace the one that caused a major attack of dyspepsia. Since then, I have been a little more aware of talking about a person’s change from being gainfully employed to being happily retired.
Most of us are rather proud of our past and don’t want it to be smeared or bandied about by rather thoughtless individuals. Of course, one of us would still like to become a little violent, but that proves nothing other than that I have put myself down to the level of the hurler of the hurtful remark.
At times, Dad’s teachings surely do come in handy. His quiet ways always brought him respect, whether from his daughter, from his friends, or from his prisoners.
I just wish I could remain as calm as he did under all kinds of pressure, but I tend to have just a bit of impatience that gets in the way of progress. I’ll keep trying to follow his lead and hope that by the time I reach the end of the trail, I’ll have learned to “speak softly.”