In Which Someone Gets Really Angry

March 31, 2012
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?Let me start off by saying that I'm a reasonably even-tempered person. There isn't a lot of things that get under my skin. Now, I know I'm not perfect; I get annoyed by many different things. Mostly stupid people. But it takes a lot to get me angry. What really gets me is disrespect. It doesn't matter if they're being disrespectful of me, my friends, or perfect strangers. I just can't stand it. And, apparently, I'm really scary when I'm angry. So this is the story of the time I got really angry. Believe me, it wasn't pretty.

One of the best things I've ever done was color guard with my school's marching band. Yeah, its nerdy, but you'll never find a better group of people. I had switched schools my junior year, and joined to make friends, and got the best friends a girl could ask for. I love my guard girls. They're that fun mixture of funny, nerdy, and kind. We generally get along with each other. Fairly well for a group of girls who spend nearly all their waking hours with each other. The only thing that could really get you ousted from the group is being lazy or just plain bad at flag work. In general, if you came to work, you'd get along just fine.

?If someone tries to tell you that marching band is easy, they are wrong! It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. And my band wasn't even good! And it is my personal opinion that if you can survive band camp, you can do anything. First of all, no matter where you are, band camp will always be the hottest week in the summer. Then you spend the entire day outside, learning how to march, spin your flag, learn your spots for songs (called drill), memorize those spots and the routine you learned to go with it, and then you do everything you learn over and over again until you can barely stand. Then you go back the next day and do it again. Needless to say, its intense. (Some of our football players say they'd rather have double practices then do band camp.) Regular practices are only slightly better. And that is because they're shorter. They are usually more stressful.

So imagine, the band has been running the show over and over again. Everyone is tired and sweaty. Our guard director had performance that night, (he's also the choir director and in charge of all things "performing arts") so the other guard captain and I were in charge. As instructed, we went off to practice the routine, which we needed, desperately. No one could ever seem to remember the routine except me! So while the captain ran the routine with the main group, I taught it to my friend, who'll we'll call M, who had not been there to learn it. As we went through each move, M pointed to the sideline. "Is she supposed to sit out?" she asked. I looked over. Sure enough, one of the girls, who'll we'll call B was sitting by the sideline, drinking water.

?Honestly, if it had been anyone else, I wouldn't have been so upset. But B was the weakest link in our team. She never ran at the beginning of practice, never practiced at home, never remembered the routine, had sloppy technique, and had the worst work ethic I had ever seen. She was late to practices, for which we were penalized, one lap for every minute late. Once we ran ten laps (the limit) when she had been thirty minutes late, which she tried to skip out on.

?I turned back to M. "Keep running that; I'll be right back." I ran over to B. "Are you okay?" I asked.

?"Yeah. I'm just thirsty," she replied. I blinked not believing it. Everyone was thirsty.

?"Then you need to get back out there. We really need to fix the routine."

?"But I'm tired."?

?"Yeah I know, but everyone is. We need to push ourselves to get this done."

?"It isn't fair! Why are being so mean!?" she huffed. (P.S. She didn't use those nice ?words.)

"Excuse me?" That was it. Didn't she know anything? I gave so much to this guard, including my time, my tears, my blood, and even my vomit, to help make this guard as strong as possible. Now, because she was tired and thirsty, no more so than the rest off us, she decided that she could just waste a practice, not just for herself but for all of us. Well, that was the straw that broke the camel's back. I looked at her.

"Excuse me? Look. All of us are tired, All of us are thirsty. This is hard. If it were easy, than everyone would do it." I kept my voice low. my face calm. "We are a team and everyone has to work. If we don't, than we fail, and disappoint everyone." I keep looking her in the eye. "Now," I say quietly, "join the group and work on the routine; you need to apply yourself and perfect it. You need the practice." She looked at me.

"Well thanks for making me feel like a terrible person." She walked off, so I returned to M.

?"Wow," she said. "You're scary when you're angry!"

?That day taught me something, something about myself. It seems so silly, but I learned that I'm one of those people that bother me. You know, the ones who stay quiet and calm instead of yelling. And you wish they would just scream at you and get it over with. I hate when people yell, but at least then you're off the hook, at least a little. They have to apologize to you and then you can apologize and everyone is forgiven, the end. But when you have someone who is calm and collected when they're angry, you have to be the bigger man. And they have to forgive you. There isn't any shared guilt, so the punishment for your actions stands without the dampening effect of a guilty punisher.

?In case you're wondering, the guard didn't do that well that year. Okay, we stunk to high heaven. After five bad performances, including football games, competitions, and a rather embarrassing performance for the school, B quit without telling anyone. But we had a lot of fun. And that I can't regret.

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