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“… if you’re gonna do something, man, F-ing do it!” One guy said to the other. “Oh, yeah?” came the response. “F-ing bring it on, man!”

That’s a snippet from an F-bomb filled shouting match I saw in a grocery store in Ventura a few weeks ago. Is it just me, or has the world gotten more angry and confrontational in the last few years? And don’t get me started on how nasty customer service phone reps can be. There’s nothing they seem to hate more than a business customer who spends thousands of dollars a month. Please let me apologize in advance for my failings, oh great ones.

How should I respond to confrontation? Should I fight fire with fire? I shed light on my questions by inventing a Boy Scout oath of sorts: “I pledge to let others determine how I behave toward them. If they are friendly with me, I will be friendly back. If they are nasty to me, I will be nasty back. I pledge to be a weak jellyfish of a man who allows others to manipulate him like pizza dough.”

I think you see where this is going. From now on, when people are nasty, I will either: a) ignore the insults. b) act confused and waste their time. c) speak respectfully and hope they see the error of their ways. (That’s unlikely, but I’m an eternal optimist.) d) make smart-ass remarks that can be retracted as being lighthearted jokes. (Which can be deliciously satisfying, especially when the dimwit has no comeback.)

I will not fight fire with fire, mainly because I am terrible at being confrontational. Full-time jerks know I’m a cream puff in a second. Also, being confrontational has never, ever gotten me anywhere. I should have realized that long ago, but I guess I’m a little slow. (That comes from all those years of banging my head against a wall.) Have a non-confrontational week, everyone!

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