Some time ago – in a pre-pandemic incarnation – I had tickets to a live television show. I invited a man I’d gone out with a few times. We needed to be there by two to insure seating by four. He offered to drive, said he knew right where it was.
He showed up a few minutes late, not a big problem. He’d neglected to fill his gas tank. There’s a few more minutes. He hops on the freeway. Then, he suddenly says, do you have the directions? I quickly program the location into my map app. He misses the exit. We’re officially late. When we get off, he makes a left rather than a right. He turns down the wrong street. He passes the entrance. Turns around. Passes it again. We are so late, I’m doubting they’ll let us in. Someone points us to the parking lot – “any spot on floor number four.” He spins around floor four, goes to five, comes back down to four. There are plenty of spaces, but he keeps saying, I’m not sure we’re allowed to park here, to which I reiterate, “they said any spot.”
You get where this is going. We were too late – far too late – and refused entry.
We stopped for a coffee while trying to figure out our next move. He asked me if I was mad about missing the show. “Disappointed.” I admitted. He insinuated I was staring at the man at the next table. “Do you know him? Why are you looking at him?” I responded, “I’m looking at the hat,” which I was. He continued to say things until I realized he was attempting to start a fight in a public place.
I knew a woman from a group of friends who, every time we got together, needed to reiterate her earthquake story. “The teapots fell from the highest shelf.” “My favorite dish broke, ruined the whole set.” “My garden pots fell over.”(I’d lost my home and nearly all my material possessions – my lovely daughters and myself were saved – and I didn’t bring it up at every meeting. We were safe. We were together. We were rebuilding our lives.) But the woman continued to tell us how they’d bilked their insurance company into getting them a new kitchen floor. “It was so horrifying,” she’d remember, “seeing my teapots in pieces all over the floor.” Occasionally shedding tears over the broken porcelain.
On a girls’ trip to New York, one of the ladies began acting terribly. She walked ahead of us, lost us on the subway, and headed back to the hotel. Worried for her, we rang and texted. When we returned to the hotel to check on her, she began bawling uncontrollably, angrily sobbing she’d lost someone in 9/11, and we were being inconsiderate. She’d never told any of us she’d lost someone. We gathered around, comforted her, allowed her some time to breathe and then asked. Through tears she said, it was her insurance agent. Upon further urging, she said her insurance company had an office in one of the towers. With more questions to understand the nature of her upset, she let us know that she really hadn’t known any one personally, but the company that held her insurance had an office in New York. She thinks it was in one of the towers. But we were still inconsiderate bitches for now allowing her to have time to grieve.
Some people need drama like they need caffeine. It’s a rush or a high. They create these pseudo-connections to big events like 9/11 or the Northridge Earthquake and anchor their heartaches on that. Others, as in my first example, create scenarios in which drama can be espoused; not getting a rise out of me, he further tried to instigate an argument in public.
Of course, the internet, tik-tok, youtube, etc are filled with viral videos of someone losing their shit.
We’ve all been there – had a moment of weakness. In this time of pandemic faux-recovery, it’s no wonder we see so many freak outs on film; however, some people thrive on it. They don’t coincidentally lose it when a camera happens to be filming, they act out often. (And I do mean act!) They get some sort of sick pleasure from it. It’s a release of sorts for them.
One woman who was an accomplished drama queen admitted it was her form of power. “Lose it sometime and watch how people jump and run to get you what you want.”
Drama is not a superpower. Drama is an immature response to a given situation.
You want to know what power is? Hold your temper. Keep your drama to yourself. Think for a moment. Consider the situation. Question your response. Then proceed.
This world is filled with people who need the rush of drama, the need for “power,” with Karen’s, and an array of people who want to act inappropriately in public. The world does not need anyone else to lose their cool.
I stood behind a guy in line who railed at the clerk because the gift card he was trying to purchase wasn’t working. The clerk walked the guy to another register, apologizing the whole time, while the customer called him an idiot, an asshole, and other assorted names. When the clerk returned, he apologized to me for my wait. I told him not to worry. My pick-up wasn’t ready. He apologized for that, cringing, expecting, so I believe, that I would go full Karen on him. I did not, I refused to make his day any worse because of things that were beyond his control. I told him I’d browse the store for a bit and come back.
In a few moments, I heard my name over the loud speaker. Not only had the clerk rushed my pick-up, but he threw in a few extras as he thanked me over and over for my patience.
There are benefits – besides dignity – although that’s a great one! – for being patient, courteous, drama-free. It’s low blood pressure, a steady heart beat, a clear mind, the ability to sleep at night. Nothing good comes from lashing out and hurting others.
Drama is a weak person’s attempt at a power grab.
Empathy is a superpower. Humanity is a superpower. Serenity is a superpower. And they all leave you feeling a hellava lot better than freaking out.