Driving Ms. Lazy: A Cautionary Tale
by rock oakeson
Ever notice how people are catching on to one of the best and oldest ways of controlling and manipulating others? I'm talking, of course, about playing the victim. You see victim mentalities in all the movies nowadays-on TV, phoning Dr. Laura, and appearing on the Jerry Springer show. I'm not talking about those who are honestly caused trouble by the villains of this world; I'm talking about people who have made a conscious art and science out of failure, and who make sure it is known that it is never their own fault.
I like to think of myself as careful to avoid this type of behavior in others. But every now and then I slip, as I did last week when Gordon called me. Gordon is a University of Utah student friend of mine. He married a pretty girl named Jackie who has mastered the art of playing the victim. The sad part is knowing that Gordon has not yet awakened to see what she does to him daily. It has been sadly amusing to see Jackie pregnant without knowing what she was getting into. The result, of course, has been for her to level demands and accusations at Gordon and her friends-those whom she thinks she can manipulate. This is where I came into the story.
"Rock, this is Gordon. Could you give my wife and I a ride to the airport? Jackie's parents are coming into town to be around when the birth of our baby happens, and our car is on the fritz. Could we by any chance trouble you?"
I explained that I had made other plans, but after thinking about how henpecked Gordon must be right now, I gave in and said that I would be happy to give them a ride. I suspected, so I inquired whether it meant giving the four of them a ride back to town.
"Yes, that's correct," said Gordon. I wondered apprehensively whether or not her parents were anything like Jackie.
Sounds simple enough, right? A quick ride to and from the airport. Well, that is what the victim mentalities want us to think.
When I arrived at their apartment to pick them up, Gordon seemed genuinely thankful for my sacrifice. But Jackie was moody and unnerved about something right from the start. "Drive fast!" was the only thing she said to me within the first fifteen minutes of the drive.
We drove along North Temple until we made it just past the Fair Grounds. It was then that Jackie announced, "You men forget I'm pregnant. I'm very hot, you guys. Rock, turn on the air conditioning!"
It was a comfortable day, I thought. But if you're hot, you're hot, and my response seemed to be the wrong answer. "I don't have air conditioning in my car. Let me turn on the vents and we can all open our windows."
"What?" she snapped, looking at Gordon with a how-dare-you-have-somebody-without-air-conditioning-drive-us-to-the-airport look on her face. Gordon, normally 6-foot 4-inches in height, appeared as if he were shrinking. So he reacted as he had been programmed to.
"Rock," Gordon offered apologetically, "sorry about this. She gets uncomfortable easily now that she is pregnant. Why don't you pull over at this fast-food place on the right. Jackie and I will get out and call somebody else to take us the rest of the way."
"Seriously?!?" I asked, more than surprised at both of them. "But we are almost there! It should only take another ten minutes at the most. It isn't that hot, is it?"
"Well," he said, "I think it would be best."
"Duh!" offered Jackie to Gordon, as sympathetically as usual.
I dropped them off at a restaurant on the north side of the street, then made it back to North Temple and drove home. On the way I wondered how much longer it was going to take Gordon before he saw that all these catastrophes were not about him at all. This one was certainly not about me. I had tried to go out of my way to help her. The glare she gave me as she dramatically (and as clumsily as possible) left my car didn't change that fact.
So, how many victims are you being victimized by? If you answer any number over zero, you need to have a reality check. Tell them that you no longer wish to get sucked into dramas that are not your issues.
I hope this has been instructive, but I've gotta go now. My mom is on line one. J 898 words 10 September 2000