The Day a Tough Guy on Probation Taught Me a Lesson

Three decades ago I was the guidance counselor for the adult education program in Auburn, and was also teaching classes I’d designed.

One of those courses was “Assertiveness Skills”. My students in the fall of 1989 were mostly women in their 40s and 50s, all of whom, it seemed, were hoping to gain the courage to speak up for themselves with their families and at work. There was one lone male in the class.

This youngish man – who was perhaps in his mid 20s – always arrived with a 2 liter bottle of some kind of soda, pretty much repeated the same jeans & t-shirt style each week, sat casually slouched and half hanging out of those awkward school desk & chair combos, and although he listened politely week after week, he didn’t “fit” with the rest of the class. And he never said a word.

Until, that is, one day I decided to start a discussion on how we feel when it seems everyone around us is being deliberately irritating and unhelpful. Do we feel hurt? Upset? Angry? How do we respond?

At that point, my guy straightened up slightly and very quietly drawled, “You know, my probation officer says that if you meet more than three assholes in any one day, you ought to take a look at your attitude”.

Some nervous laughs from the ladies and then, dead silence.

Wow.

With that one sentence I learned more from that young man than my entire curriculum was worth. I hope his classmates got it, too.

I’ve repeated this story over and over for three decades. Sadly, I don’t remember the young guy’s name, nor that of his probation officer. If I did, I would look them up and thank them both.



Categories: Mental Health, Relationships

Tags: , , ,

2 replies

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Heritage Health Services

Supporting Your Business the Old-Fashioned Way - By Listening and Hard Work

Speaking of Suicide

A site for suicidal individuals and their loved ones, survivors, mental health professionals, & others who care

Deidra Alexander's Blog

I have people to kill, lives to ruin, plagues to bring, and worlds to destroy. I am not the Angel of Death. I'm a fiction writer.

ABSTRACT RECEPTION

Discover The Worlds Hidden In Ordinary Objects

Mr. Bill's Travel Blog

Amputee Travel... let the adventures begin!

Diary of an Aesthete

Follow the Journey...

Chairybomb

Honest Furniture Reviews

Violet's Vegan Comics

Vegan-Friendly Stories for all ages

Confessions of a Readaholic

Book Reviews | IAuhor nterviews | EST 2013

%d bloggers like this: