Monday, September 03, 2007

Rude awakening

What a great way to wake up. Have someone ringing your doorbell at half seven in the morning, and then yell at the flatmate who opened the door: "Get your stinking stuff the hell out of the drying room!" and then leave.

No greeting, no introduction, no checking that he's in the right place, that the things in the drying room belong to us, nothing. And of course the volume was as loud as it gets, so the neighbours were probably woken up, too.

I had done some laundry in the laundry room last night, and so mine was the last name in the booking sheet. After I was done, my flatmate, who had spent the weekend in an adventure race, had gone and hung his rain-soaked stuff out to dry in the drying room. Admittedly we knew the next reservation was for this morning, and that it started at 7, but decided to leave the stuff (a tent, a sleeping bag etc., large things you can't dry in the flat) to dry there overnight because there was no other place.

So we went down to collect the things, and of course the laundry machine was still churning the first load, so there seemed to be no problem, which made us wonder what the hell the yelling was about. When we were almost done and just about to leave, an elderly woman (I'd say lady but she was not one) in her rubber boots appeared at the door, again without greeting or introduction told us in an annoyed voice that she is too old to clean up other people's stuff and that she'd need the room in five minutes and we should be gone by then. My flatmate tried to apologise for the inconvenience but she had already turned around and left.

I'm not sure if the man yelling at our door was her husband, but these two would definitely deserve each other. I don't remember anyone being so rude before, and I feel sorry for my flatmate who felt really bad about the trouble, and of course had planned to get the stuff out of there first thing in the morning, but probably because he had slept for about 10 hours since Thursday he had decided to get up just before 8 rather than at seven, when this no-life hag was starting what probably is the highpoint of her month. (She had booked the laundry for the whole day, as she seems to do every month.)

It made me think about how the world must seem like if you have no social skills at all. How every time you need to deal with people, every time there is something that you'd need to complain about or negotiate over you worry about it so much, you mentally rehearse all the worst case scenarios so many times that by the time you are in the actual situation, all you can do is get on the maximum offence and then leave (piä tunkkis, perkele)?

This is called negative assertiveness, and it is a very common source of social dysfunctions. Someone who scores high on negative assertiveness is able to deliver bad news, rejection or complaint, and handle those situations well. It is about influencing people and relating with them, and healthy assertiveness (in both positive and negative matters) is important in social situations. Many times people who lack assertiveness altogether, are overly shy, avoid difficult situations and in some cases social interaction altogether, and this becomes a problem. For some others, lack of coping skills results in aggressive behaviour, like in the case of the laundry-people in our building.

So, after some rationalisation, rather than being angry I started to feel a bit sorry for these two, whose lives we had so insolently perturbed, and refrained from sneaking in to the laundry room to turn off the mains during the washing cycle.


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