Feeling Like A Bully

August 22, 2007

Growing up I was often the target of the neighborhood bully and his miscreant friends. As I was sensitive and cried easily when teased or picked on I was an attractive target to bullies, easy game as it were. As an adult I find that I react strongly to incidents where I see someone being bullied or when I feel like I am being bullied.

I also react when I feel like I am being the bully. Eleven days ago a man moving his minivan out of a parking space where we live backed into my car causing an estimated $1968 damage to the sheet metal and finish. I faxed him a copy of the estimate just three days after the accident and have been waiting for him to call me ever since. Sunday evening I called and left him a message asking for an update; and last evening, since he hadn't called me yet, I called once again.

The emotion I feel during these calls, and in the minutes leading up to them is one I don't like. The term I use for it is "being a bully." In truth I think it is my compassion for a fellow human being who made a simple mistake and is now having to pay quite a bit of money to repair the damages. I'd be terribly upset if it were me who had backed into another car, so I want to feel sorry for him and his plight. Only I also want him to make my car whole again, and soon. In order to override the compassion feelings I have to be more aggressive, internally, and that makes me feel like a bully.

On Friday I'll be handing this whole matter off to my insurance agent. After all, that's what I pay him for - to act as my agent in matters requiring insurance and repairs and for making damaged bits of my life whole again. I won't have to "be the bully" any more. As you might expect I have some mixed feelings about escalating this situation with official involvement, but in the end I need to take care of myself and my property.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.