Thursday, February 22, 2007

The whole story

**This is a "rescued post." Something I wrote and for reasons which may be obvious in this case, did not publish. Composed 2/22/07. Published 5/6/07**

I referred to an incident in which I behaved badly back in November. I didn't go into details, but I think I will now. At the time when I mentioned to it I didn't know how I should have handled the situation. It took me about a week, but I did figure it out.

So this is the story as it happened (as best I remember it).

I woke up early and went to sit in the living room. It was November and it was cold outside. Actually it was cold inside. I sat in my favorite chair which happens to be next to the vent in between the living room and Evan's room. A freezing cold breeze was coming from it. The furnace was running and Evan's door was rattling. It was clear what had happened: Evan, who is always hot, had fallen asleep with his window open and hadn't, as I have asked him any number of times, covered the vent and shoved a towel under the door. I was cold, and he was running up my utility bill.

I sat in the chair feeling used, abused, and furious. Why couldn't he have just a little consideration for any one's needs? Why did he have to be so damn selfish? I knew I shouldn't confront him, in my current mood, but I should sit there freezing in my own house? I banged on his door.

"Shut your window!"
"It's 6 in the morning!"
"I know! Shut your window and block off the damn vent!"
"Why are you waking me up at 6:00 in the morning?"
Now I'm thinking, Why won't the brat listen to me? I'm tired of trying to explain and so I say, "Open this door!
"Evan, get you butt out of bed and open this door or I will get my key and let myself in."
"Damn it Evan! You're freezing out the house! Let me in now!"
"Hang on."
A minute later he opens the door. I push past him, crawl over his bed and check the windows. They're shut. (He's not stupid).
"I told you they were shut."
"They weren't a minute ago."
"Yes. They were."
"Evan you door was banging in the breeze. I could feel the cold air coming through the vent!"
"Well, I don't know that happened."
I was furious. I mean, really furious. Inconsiderate, lying little brat. I started picking up dirty clothes and piling them against is vent. "I know that you don't really think that anyone in this house has any needs accept you. But we actually do. Other people exist and it would not be out of line for you to occasionally remember that. If you are going to leave your vent open at the very least you must block the vent and the door. I have told you this! It cost money to run the furnace!" I stop and look at
him. He says, "Get out of my room."
"It's my room. GET OUT."
"It's my house and I am not leaving until you speak politely to me."
"No. Not until you figure out a way to speak to me appropriately."

I think he finally said something like, "PLEASE, get out" in a sarcastic tone of voice and I gathered what shreds of dignity I had left and walked out.

I told you I had behaved badly.

Now, at the time I knew that I had not handled that well, but it seemed to me for at least several days that my only other option would have been to be cold. I could have "let him get away with it". Ignoring his behavior would have meant allowing my needs to be ignored.

But there was another path. There was a path in which I could have respected my needs, enforced my rules, without things getting out of hand.

This is what should have happened:

I knock loudly on the door.
"Evan, I need you to shut your window and block the vent."
"It's 6:00 in the morning!"
"I know."
"Why are you waking me up at 6:00 in the morning?"
"Because your window is open and the living room is cold. I need you to shut the window and block the vent."
"I can't believe you are waking me up at 6:00!"
"Evan, I need you to shut the window. Will you do it, or should I come in and do it?" (This of course would have been said firmly, but not with fury.)
"I'll do it! There. The window's shut! Happy?"
"A little. Thanks."

Wouldn't it be nice if we could go back in time and do it right. You know, after we have had a week or month to figure out what we should have done?

Update (5/6/07): Evan and I told this to guests recently. He confessed that of course he closed the window before he let me in. "I'm not studid!" he said.

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