When I was in 7th grade, there were a few kids, one in particular, that picked on me in the locker room during football practice and, as my parents were going through a divorce at the time, a comment about one of them set me off and I found myself uncontrollably crying. In spite of my best efforts to hide it, an older student found me and made me confess to my coach what had happened and who had done it. This really only made matters worse and he now wanted me to meet him after school to fight. For a few weeks, every day was a new invitation. And then I snapped and told him to just fight me now. I wasn’t going to come after school like some child. If he wanted to fight, he should man up right now or shut the fuck up because he was clearly full of shit. I wanted him to hit me. I wanted to have a reason to get into that fight. But he backed down, I walked off, and I never heard shit from him again.
I still relive that moment from time to time. And I mean re-live it. The emotions come over me and I’ll find myself shouting the words back at that brat while clutching the steering wheel of my car when, before, I was singing along to bland pop on the radio. And that’s someone I didn’t really feel tormented by – not once did I feel bullied or in danger and was pretty sure I could take him in a fight — and haven’t seen since the end of the Fall semester in 7th grade.
In 2007, it was decided that what we needed at our company was a custom-built source control system. The goals of the system weren’t well-defined and the vision fell very short of the freely available systems of the day (i.e. Subversion). When asked, I predicted nothing short of the pain, misery, and death that ensued when the system was implemented and we were forced to use it in 2009 (after newer systems that were freely available had stabilized). Arguments ensued, political moves were made, and I lost all of my battles. Ultimately, the day was saved by someone else and we cheered our liberators without a care as to how they won the war. They won because Subversion had “Blame” — a feature that no one really cared about, except the senior VP — and the custom solution didn’t. There were hundreds of better reasons and “Blame” could have been built into the custom solution. I suppose a victory is a victory and we weren’t above winning on a technicality.
But here I was in 2012 and I was still having those arguments. I was trying to convince a boss I no longer work for at a company I no longer work for to either not make a decision that has already been made or overturn a decision that has already been overturned for silly reasons. Much like “Blame”, what made me finally stop was the dumbest thing in the world, “I am living rent-free right here”.
I don’t often look to The Big Bang Theory for inspiration, but something about the line struck a chord and I just started repeating it every time I got worked up over something that was a long time ago and didn’t matter. It became my private prayer of exorcism and I find that I use it less and less as time goes on. Now I just need to find something better to sing along to on the radio.