Taryn Learns a Lesson Pt. 1

Hi there!

It’s been quiet on my end. Mostly because I’ve been trying how to wrap my head around an experience I had during the last 48 hours of my stay in Brian Head. Long story short, I unwittingly became the object of affection for one creepy ass middle age White guy. (Spoiler alert, this is a profanity-laced post.) Now, I’ve felt a lot of things about this experience, some being shame, guilt, fear, confusion, rage, a lot of pretty lame feelings. Truthfully, I wasn’t going to share it, that is, until he emailed me today, almost 4 weeks after the incident.

What happened

Monday– a week before I was slated to leave Brian Head– Abbey and I decided to go outside and play in the snow. It was May 23, but you’d never know it based on the inches of fresh powder on the ground. Because we were the only ones outside and because Abbey seems to have a penchant for the snow (seriously, she was like a pig in slop), I let her run around off-leash.

Everything was going pretty well. Abbey was having the time of her life, and I was enjoying watching my beloved partner in crime prance around in the snow. That moment changed when I saw some random dude with a dog that I was sort of familiar with. Bruce, the dog, belonged to this weird chick (who I later found out was dating the son of Roger, the condo’s caretaker) that had terrible social skills. Anyway, Abbey was staring at me and the man and Bruce were behind her. Sensing that something was up, Abbey turned around and immediately ran after the guy.

I frantically tried to run after her, screaming for her to stop, but I was calf-deep in fresh powder, so I was going nowhere fast. By the time I caught up to her and the man and Bruce, the man tried to shove Abbey back as she barked at him quite viciously. I should mention that Abbey is generally friendly, so why she behaved so aggressively was beyond me. In hindsight, Abbey saw what I did not, which is precisely why she’s earned all the treats in the world.

Anyway, I mumble out an apology, embarrassed, I scold Abbey and we trudge off to the condo. I really can’t explain why, but the interaction felt off in some way, but since Abbey was technically the offender, I took responsibility. I wish that was the only interaction I had with that dude, but I suppose that would make this story boring.

Caught off guard

Fast forward to Friday, it’s the morning, around 10am. Abbey and I had gotten out late as I had overslept. My plan was to quickly let her out to do her business and then I would shower and become a semi-productive member of society. It was quite sunny and the snow had significantly melted. As Abbey was finishing up, I caught a glimpse of a man in my peripheral vision who was seemingly going to the rec room/laundry facility. He hesitated for a second, but then changed direction and walked my way.

“Hey, you’re Trevor’s friend, right?” He asked. “I saw you in his Truck the other day.”

I was taken aback because, A, I’m literally the only Black person for at least 40 miles, so in my head, the comment didn’t make sense. B, the way he began the interaction was jarring. I can’t really describe it, but it felt forced and inorganic. But, thanks to that old stupid social contract we dumb humans abide by, I go against my better judgment and reply that he must have mistaken me for someone else. Anyway, he offers his name, Brett, and goes on a spiel about himself and how he was writing a memoir on his abusive upbringing.

I should mention that Roger,  had mentioned someone that fit Brett’s description. I think this put my guard down further because it established a sort of familiarity. I immediately put 2 and 2 together and tell him that I had heard about him from Roger. The interaction with the caretaker stuck with me because he had mentioned how shitty the man’s family was and how grateful that he never had such experiences. I had told him that Roger had mentioned him a few weeks ago and Brett had asked if I was staying in the Airbnb condo across from Roger. I said yes, not thinking anything of it. Up until that point, the few people I did meet in Brian Head were quirky, polite, and generally kept to themselves, so I didn’t see the harm.

Maybe I felt pity for the man, or maybe I felt charitable enough to have a conversation with a human, but Brett ended up highjacking an hour and a half of my time. What was supposed to be a 5-minute pee break became a battle of intellect of sorts. See Brett was doing his best to appear impressive and well-read. Very few people can get the jump on me when it comes to mental sparing, so my ego was in full swing. That and he seemed harmless. It also didn’t help that he appeared normal and attractive enough for me to cut him more slack than I would’ve given the circumstances. I mean he was basic White dude attractive, mid-50s, in shape, with steely blue-ish green eyes. Friends, evil comes in the form that we least expect. Looking back, I wish I hadn’t been so eager to chat, but, there’s no use in crying over spilled milk.

What I appreciated about the conversation was the Brett seemingly was able to keep up (for the most part) and appeared to be somewhat of a critical thinker. We chatted about politics, the world order, how dumb society was, and religion. I outwitted him in all categories (see, dumb ego at its finest) but, I still had considered him a decent debater. He went on to proclaim how dumb it was to believe in God, and in my mind, I thought how dumb he was for not. Still, I believe that everyone has a right to live as they see fit and I told him just as much.

I’m not going to go over the whole entire conversation because it wasn’t really relevant, but I will go over some of his mannerisms and demeanor that raised concerns in my thoughts. For one, there was this underlying aggression in his tone and stance. When he was speaking about things he disagreed with, he’d clench his fist and lean in, closing the distance between us. I remember thinking to myself, “that’s odd, his behavior almost seems menacing. Interesting.” The second flag was that he kept correcting me when I spoke, even though I was right. This annoyed me, but there was something that I couldn’t quite put my finger on about this dude, so I allowed the interaction to continue. I figured, it could make for a great story one day. Boy, was I right.

I tend to have a clinical approach when it comes to interacting with others, disassociating from my emotions to better assess the person I’m engaging with. If I’m being honest, one of the reasons I do this is to find weaknesses or tells to exploit so that I can manipulate the conversation. This isn’t because I’m trying to be evil or manipulative, but rather it helps me ascertain the person’s thought process, how to better converse with them in a manner that is comfortable to them, and best of all, it allows me to hide in plain sight. Admittedly, I keep myself close to the vest, so being able to size up an opponent allows me to mirror their behavior/mannerisms, giving them what they would most likely enjoy in the interaction without me having to be fully present. I know, it sounds very serial-killer of me, but, it is what it is.

Anyway, I was trying to wrap it up, and he kept mentioning that he had to go, but then he’d start on some other diatribe that would last 10 minutes. I remember being annoyed about my time being stolen. Plus Abbey kept sighing every few moments and I knew she wanted to leave. Before going our separate ways he’d mentioned how financially secure he was and asked if I’d like to come up for a beer and chat, to which I politely declined. This type of conversation wasn’t new to me. If I had stock in how many times I get hit on by White dudes his age, I’d never have to work again. Still, my ego was loving this, so leaving him with rejection was fun.

Uninvited Guest

When I got back to the condo, I called my dad and told him of the incident, joking that I had found my sugar daddy. At that point, I didn’t think anything of it as it was just a waste of my time, but nothing major. After getting off the phone with my dad, I heard a knock at my door. Puzzled, I naively answer it. It was Brett standing at my door. 

Slightly annoyed at the intrusion, I step outside to assert some sort of boundary. Before I could say anything, he offers an apology, saying sorry if his comments about God offended me. I was taken aback by his display of sheepishness, especially since I didn’t give any indication of offense when we were talking. At that moment, I felt bad for his feeling bad at his remark, probably because I’ve been known to stick my foot in my mouth, I felt compassion for him. This overrode my sense of feeling that my space was invaded. In other words, it made me drop my guard. 

I accepted the apology and attempted to make him feel better for his comments. Again, in hindsight, it was dumb. He then asked if I’d like to go on a trail with him and Bruce. I say yes, because I like the outdoors and he said this spot was the best. He says to meet up in an hour and went away. At first, I was weirded out but then was reassured that Abbey would be there if anything got weird. So I showered and got ready. Fortunately, my intuition got the better of me, so when he showed up again at my door, I made an excuse about work and that maybe I’d meet him up there. He gives me his number and leaves.

I wish I could say that’s where the story ended, but it doesn’t. A couple of hours roll by and I felt bad for lying about bailing, so to be nice, I wrote a quick text apologizing for flaking and that I hope it was a good trip. He quickly responds that he’s back and that I should come up for coffee and a chat if I was free. I didn’t see the harm in that so I did.

Gaslighting Conversation

So, I go to his condo, (writing this, I’m cringing) knock to which he shouts “it’s open”. I look around and the condo is in pristine condition. I mean it was tidy. He was in the kitchen making food for himself. He offered me some, to which I declined. He then sticks a fork-full of pasta in my direction, insisting that I try it. Begrudgingly I obliged.  Without warning, he then proceeds to run on about his life, the various abuses that he suffered growing up, his shitty parents, his shitty foster dad. It was a lot of personal information to absorb in such a short amount of time that it didn’t seem genuine. In fact, it well like he was reciting a shopping list. I remember feeling annoyed and exasperated thinking “ok dude, you were beaten and sexually assaulted, can we please move on”. 

This went on for about an hour, and I barely got in a word, and when I did, he’d have some thinly-veiled backhanded comment towards it. One that I distinctly remember was him saying, “you seem really guarded like you’re unemotional to protect yourself.” That threw me off because while I am pretty lowkey, I’m able to supply information if the moment calls for it. Seeing as I only met the dude a few hours ago, I didn’t feel the need to share the deepest darkest secrets of my life. Still, even though I didn’t agree with the comment, I felt the need to be agreeable. He’d go on to say things about him being older, which gave him a wiser perspective. His experiences made him smarter than me. At that point, I was over trying to be nice as he was just being an asshole with a smile. As I was preparing to leave, I made an asshole comment about being a magnet for old White dudes his age. He took it as a compliment when I meant it was an insult.

For some reason, I realized that I wasn’t in a situation I could control. I couldn’t help but remember his slightly aggressive demeanor from the morning and it was getting late. Even though I’ve been traveling solo for about 7 months, being with a strange man alone was not smart. After all, it was the off-season and there were only like 5 people staying in the giant condo complex. My instincts kicked in and I phoned a friend, pretending like she called me. I “took” the call and went back down to my apartment thinking that this would be the last I’d see of him. After all, it was Friday evening and I was leaving Monday morning. I figured I’d write off the time wasted. But what I thought was an annoying afternoon became the impetus for the more antagonizing 48 hours of my life.

To be continued…

 

Constructive Criticism is a Necessary Evil

For me, constructive criticism can be a bitter pill to swallow. I fully understand that it’s meant to help make you better. Though I suppose I don’t like to admit that I need direction from time to time. During my time working as a freelance writer, I’ve been fortunate to find steady work so quickly. This also means that I haven’t had to face any real rejection or critiquing of my work. That being said I got my first taste of constructive criticism today and it took me a bit to come to terms with. I did however take the time to fully digest what they had said and despite my ego being in a tiff, I agree with their feedback. To give you a better understanding here’s my take on how I logically perceived the feedback and how my ego took it.

Logic:

Their points make total sense. It was more of a puff piece than actual research. I’ll dig a little deeper and present an article that is based on the research. Also I appreciate the fact they’re giving me the opportunity to redo the article rather than go with someone else.

Ego:

Well that’s stupid, the article wasn’t that bad. Sure I didn’t put in the legwork, but I’m awesome and I don’t have to. I don’t need to change my ways and I’m just gonna watch Duck Dynasty instead.

 

My mind works in weird ways lol. Fortunately for me, I’m going to side with logic on this one and redo the article. I tend to run through things rather quickly instead of making sure I’ve done my due diligence. . Because of my lack of experience/coping with constructive criticism it got me thinking about my generation in its entirety. I don’t like to speculate on people in masses, though I do wonder, are millenials equipped to handle rejection/criticism? I’ve been racking my brain and I can’t remember too many instances in which I’ve been a recipient of either. Also, I know in the past I haven’t always dealt well with criticism, no matter how constructive.This was a good lesson on the art of humility for me.

I’m also learning to keep my ego in check and fully understand why constructive criticism is so important. Sure it doesn’t always feel good, but in reality I gained more knowledge and understanding of the expectations of my assignment. Now I’m off to go do some research. 🙂

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If You Can’t Beat ’em, Join ’em

 

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Working with people who kiss ass to climb the “corporate ladder” really grinds my gears. I had a coworker whose nose was so far up my supervisor’s derrière that it probably needed to be surgically removed at that point. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that a little schmoozing is necessary to gain favor with the higher ups but this dude took it to the next level.

For instance 2 people and myself had seniority on the team and we all had different styles that worked well with the company. Me being the young “altruistic” one (definition: young, arrogant, and ignorant) made a name for myself because I wasn’t trying to adhere to the “man”. I had “integrity” meaning I could look myself in the mirror at night knowing that my nose was poop free. Also, I was damn good at my job. (Again that young and arrogant thing comes into play).

One of my other colleagues and I would text play by play insults (picture Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith, and Shaq giving commentary on the NBA finals.) during conference calls directed towards this individual. Now, I’m not knocking him as a human being. I’m sure he’s lovely. With that being said his “at any cost” attitude made him seem untrustworthy and self-serving. So finally at one point, I got so sick and tired of his “look at how awesome I’m being, Boss” ways and decided to give him a dose of his own medicine. (I’m sure this sounds vindictive but hey, I was/am young, I’m sure I’ll learn the error of my ways at some point).

Instead of getting annoyed at his blatant attempts to look better than the rest of us, I started playing his game. I would over communicate and give the team helpful pointers. The major difference between him and I is that my ability of perceiving others surpassed his. Instead of coming off as a self-absorbed douche, I looked like a mentor.  In time, my boss started praising me and my ability to help the new members of the team learn and grow. I couldn’t care less about the praise, but my satisfaction was the blatant envy I could hear in his voice when our boss shot down his idea in favor of mine and all he could do was agree that it was a solid plan. To add insult to injury other members of the team would call me laughing about how obvious it was that he was pouting. It made my conference calls a lot brighter and more satisfying.

Now was what I did right? Debatable. Did it seem like a dick move? Absolutely. But in retrospect, the information I gave to my coworkers was coming from a good place and I really did want everyone to succeed. So I figured why not have a little fun at the resident brown noser’s expense? Plus it made my job that much more fun. In the end, if you can’t be ’em, join ’em.