LOOK AT THE NEGATIVE SIDE
Hasty, careless, impulsive words can turn a pleasant day into a nightmare.
Wally bounced out of bed in a good mood. He greeted his wife with a friendly hug and kiss. They had a pleasant breakfast together, and after a tender good-bye kiss, he headed for the garage—whistling a tune to himself.
He was pleased with himself because he got an early start and would be able to get some desk work out of the way before the start of a busy day.
Everything changed when he put the car key in the switch and glanced at the gas gauge. It was on empty.
“I told that #$%¢&* wife of mine to put gas in the car when she used it last night. And she didn’t do it!”
Wally was seething as he waited at the gas pump for the tank to be filled. Already, he was rehearsing what he would say to his wife that night.
It was a busy day, so the gas-tank episode was forgotten until he headed home. The closer he got to home the angrier he became.
Wally slammed the door of his car and headed for the house. He brushed past his wife, mumbling a gruff:
“What’s wrong with you?” she asked.
“There must be something wrong,” she mused.
She pressed for an answer.
“Did you have a rough day at work?” She had no idea what was going on underneath his skin, or she might have had some second thoughts about pursuing the question.
Then he unloaded.
“Yes, I had a rough day. I left early to get some desk work done, only to find an empty gas tank. So instead of getting a head start, I spent my time sitting beside a gas pump.”
“Didn’t I tell you to put gas in the car? Why don’t you listen to me? Why is that I can never depend on you? I’m fed up with your lack of consideration. All you think about is yourself.”
His wife burst into tears.
“Quit your bawling,” he went on. “Do I have to put up with an emotional woman on top of your irresponsible behavior?”
Before he was halfway through, Wally was sorry he had started his tirade. But once he got started, he figured he might as well finish it.
If his employees ever tried talking to him that way, he would have fired them. He wouldn’t think of speaking to his friends the way he just addressed his wife.
By now, the children were listening, too.
“You kids…get out of here!” He shoved one of them backward and kept on yelling.
By spewing out this torrent of words, Wally made a fool of himself and felt foolish about it. But the words were out.
He was especially disturbed over his choice of words and the manner in which he delivered them. This wasn’t the first time this happened. He ruined many an evening with his sharp tongue and then had to figure out how to patch things up.
A NASTY TONGUE
The telephone rang. It was for Ange, the sixteen-year-old daughter in the family.
On the other end of the line was a young man the family didn’t approve of—asking Ange to go to a party at the home of another friend Ange’s parents didn’t approve of. Ange accepted the invitation, hoping to talk her folks into letting her go.
When she hung up, Ange took a stab at changing her parents’ minds.
“Can’t I please go?” she pleaded.
“You know the answer,” her mother replied.
“Aw, come on, please let me go. All the kids but me will be there. Please let me go. Dad, tell mom to let me go.”
“You heard your mother. You knew what we would say when you agreed to go.”
“Oh, please. . . just this once?”
“The answer is no!” her dad repeated.
Then Ange launched out on a speech.
“You never let me do anything. I hate this place, and I hate you. When I get a little older, you will be sorry, because I’m going to clear out of here and do whatever I please. All you do is make life miserable for me. You must hate me to treat me like you do. None of my friends have to take the guff I take around here. You don’t care about me at all. I hate you.”
Wow! Quite a tirade for a teenager. Her parents kept quiet and let her continue until she ran out of words. She was feeling miserable before she finished.
Actually, Ange didn’t disagree with her parents’ judgment. But, again and again, she would sass her mother, or tell off the whole family, or lash out at anyone who crossed her. She caused herself no end of trouble socially, and often ended up disgusted with herself.