Social Question

cookieman's avatar

Have you ever wanted to be petty, even though that's not your nature?

Asked by cookieman (38065points) August 26th, 2017 from iPhone

I am not a petty or vindictive person at all. Jellies who know me might agree or, as my daughter would tease me, “You’re so zen.” (insert teenage eye roll here) ;^)

However…this one guy recently got my goat —

I’ve been trying to get a new teaching job for over a year and, six months ago, reached out to a dean at my alma mater looking for advice. I’ve met him before and thought he could be helpful. To my surprise, he was very condescending and said that my teaching and work experience and student’s work were sub-par. He suggested that a “real school” would not consider me. (despite my 25 years in this industry and 17 years teaching) I was happy he took the time to talk to me at all, so I thanked him for the advice and moved on — feeling pretty bad though.

Fast forward to now and one of those “real schools” he referred to recently hired me as an associate professor — and there’s a part of me that’s just dying to send him my updated resume to stick it to him. But I probably won’t. But I want to. But it’s petty. Ahhh.

How about you Jellies? Have you ever wanted to “sink to their level” just to feel better? Do you avoid being petty, even to the schmucks of the world? Please, share your stories.

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18 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

But I AM pretty. Just look at my beautiful skull.

cookieman's avatar

“petty” @ragingloli, not “pretty” :^)

Mimishu1995's avatar

I think you will be right to choose to ignore him. He doesn’t affect your life in the long run at all, and you got what you deserve in the end. Why even pay attention to some random idiot in the first place?

To answer the question, yes, there have been many occasions when I was forced to sink to people’s level. It was been because I wanted to feel better, but because that was the only way I could think of to break myself free from their toxicity. Mostly it involved cutting tie with petty people who were so manipulative they would do anything to prove themselves right. I cut them off without any explanation, no call, no message, no meeting, nothing. I just suddenly “disappeared” for no reason. I ignored their messages. Any call from them would be quickly cut off because “I was too busy with life”. I just slowly drifted away from their life just like that. I know it isn’t right to part way without closure, but there are some people who just don’t deserve closure, people who always think they are right and will make up 100 reasons that I’m wrong about everything way and the only reasonable solution is to continue the relationship.

It just happened to me very recently. There was that casual friend I met in a private class. We became friends through my help with her study and she started to take an interest in me. We went out occasionally. She was much older than me and switched back and forth to various jobs before seemingly settling down to selling cakes at home. A few days ago we met. She asked about my job. I told her about my job and she seemed to be disappointed with my salary (she was just a casual friend so I kept my bigger plan and dream to myself). I said I don’t really care for the money because I’m fresh out of college and I’m still learning the way. She then asked what I learn from the job. I said some things and she still seemed disappointed. She then said that I was so naive because I missed the most important thing: how to market myself. All the other things I learned could be acquired in 1 month. She then went on and on about how she tried hard to research her cooking method and market herself, how she started working right from college to earn experience, how I had no experience because I work in a language center, something she thought would provide no life experience… The whole conversation turned into how I should live my life. Too bad for her, braggers and dictators are among the people I hate the most. I decide that this would be the last time she ever hears from me, because I could already sense from the conversation that she was so sure she was the better one that no explanation would turn her round. I’m so glad I wasn’t too emotionally involved in her.

PullMyFinger's avatar

For many years I wanted to be TOM Petty, but somehow that did not work out…

cookieman's avatar

there are some people who just don’t deserve closure

@Mimishu1995: That is a great point. I hadn’t thought of it that way. And yes, braggers and dictators who want to tell you how to live your life are not worth it. Thank you for your story and the insight.

@PullMyFinger: I’m not sure it worked out for him either.

Coloma's avatar

On rare occasion if I am around other petty people.
Just bask in your smugness. haha
Nothing more rewarding than to shut down a petty person with one well timed comment. Just revel in your smugness that this guy is a total jackass and maybe, one day, the perfect opportunity will present to stuff a little carrot up his jackass ass. LOL

JLeslie's avatar

Probably. Nothing comes to mind, but I’m not immune. I’m usually not a grudge holder, but I am concerning two people in my life, because they held a grudge against me for years (doing it for so long made their actions totally disgusting to me) for something that was a misunderstanding and stupid and The had some blame in the thing also. They acted like assholes for so long that I became like them in response to them to some extent. You get what you give.

Coloma's avatar

@JLeslie That’s exactly right, why I cut no slack for a few here. You want to sling shit well, I have a great pitching arm too. LOL

JLeslie's avatar

^^It wasn’t so much revenge, although I have been caught in tit for tat in my lifetime, but this grudge thing was more that I really cared about having a good relationship so it really hurt me, then over time I got angry, and then completely apathetic.

I would never trust them again. Anyone who can be so passive aggressive (they are silent treatment oriented) and stay angry for so long regarding a little disagreement, I realized I don’t want to be in a relationship with someone who can do that. My apathy probably comes across as more passive, so they created the same thing for themselves.

In fact, I see more clearly now how the interactions create a certain environment. Not my schtick. I play it regarding them to some extent, but not with other people, because it’s not my true nature.

Coloma's avatar

^ I hear ya, I drop passive aggressive types like a hot potato, no time for those games. If you are an adult, supposedly, but can’t express your feelings and shoot straight and prefer to play mind games, well, have fun, playing with yourself. LOL

janbb's avatar

I’ve wanted to say cutting things to my Ex at times but mostly have managed to hold off. It’s better for family relations if I don’t.

But yeah – that guy really put you down.

cookieman's avatar

@janbb: I’ll probably refrain from contacting him again about it, but I’m sure I’ll bump into him at some conference at some point. Hmmm.

I see your point about your ex. I’ve suggested the same to my nephew about his ex — but where do you draw the line between keeping the peace and standing up for yourself?

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh man, yes. Yes. When I got fired because my boss was an old idiot I really wanted to act petty.

janbb's avatar

@cookieman No one should be a patsy. I stood up for myself plenty during the divorce process and we came to good arrangements as to finances but it doesn’t help anything to be unnecessarily nasty. Especially if there are kids involved. Luckily for me, our kids were adults so there were no custody issues but they still had a lot of feelings to work out individually with each of us.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Alan Watts has much to say about the Trickster.

Tony Robbins cherishes the abuse his mother put him through.

These seemingly confrontational personas are directly responsible for our evolution towards making ourselves the best we can possibly be. May I suggest that you consider viewing the “dean” in another light. Perhaps his insult played a direct (partial) role in the creating the motivation necessary to prepare you for achieving your current position. If not, or not so much, then at least his insult made your victory all the much sweeter.

Were I to write him a letter, it would be one of thanks. Thanks for giving me a reason to believe in myself more than I did before I met you.

cookieman's avatar

^^ All good points.

snowberry's avatar

@cookieman This dean sounds like a real mess. I wonder how he managed to attain his position, considering how emotionally immature he appears to be. I’m also thinking he is seriously off course mentally.

I have had similar experiences, and I agree it would make me feel a lot better to go back and give them a swift kick where it would be most felt, but but doing that wouldn’t help my goal at all.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Yes. I do try to avoid it. I don’t always succeed.

Given the field we both work in, I think you probably know how driven by ego it is. This person sounds as though he has an inferiority complex. You asked for his guidance and he chose to put you down. One of the problems with the area we work in (or certainly in my country) is academics are not trained to manage people or to be competent administrators. Did he offer you and guidance on how to improve your teaching and course statistics? Did he make any suggestions for how you might make yourself a more appealing option for these ‘real schools’? He just sounds like a poor manager.

As to being petty, there’s no need. He will learn you have a job now at a ‘real school’. Well done. And you may cross paths at a conference or a teaching event when you can very nicely tell him where you are working now. Or go for an institutional teaching award! That will help you and show him.

I recently had a conversation with a professor and former member of my school’s executive. I was talking about how some profs are so reluctant to mentor and guide more junior academic staff. I mentioned how helpful one of my professorial mentors has been to me over the years and how glad and grateful I am for his guidance. It’s made such a difference. He said the person concerned would undoubtedly feel very glad to see how well I’m doing and be happy to help me and that seeing more junior academics thriving was one of the pleasures of getting further up the academic tree. However, we also talked about how they aren’t all so generous. There are plenty who would prefer to behave in an arrogant, superior fashion and go out of their way to be unhelpful. His advice to me, because I’d just had dealings with someone like that, was to ignore them. @cookieman, try to find some mentors that are like those excellent examples of professors. They are out there and it can make a huge difference to your work life and your progress. I’d give that Dean a major pass and look for other mentors in your field. Don’t let his obnoxious behaviour make you reluctant to seek out other guides. It’s a real help to have champions in your corner in this field.

If you want to have a private convo, feel free. Happy to chat.

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