Admit it, there are days when you’d love to smack your coworkers in the head. Not hard enough to cause a traumatic brain injury or anything, but with sufficient force to let them know in no uncertain terms that you think they’re idiots, that they irritate you more than a highly vocal mosquito, and that you would gladly trade spending eight hours with them for a full day at the mercy of a dentist who doesn’t believe in pain control.
The law won’t let you smack them, though. Nor can you kick them, shoot them, stab them, push them down a flight of stairs, shove them in front of a bus, throw them under a subway, egg their house, key their car, or call their children and tell them what a pain in the as their mommy or daddy is. Those sort of things are frowned upon in polite society. But oh, how you fantasize about such scenarios. I know I have, but being a Human Resources Manager, I’m the last person who should be flipping out on my fellow staffers.
That’s why, in the interest of both my career and my sanity, I joined a roller derby league five years ago. Let me tell you, there is nothing more freeing than ripping off an A-line skirt and a pair of practical pumps and exchanging them for a sequined sports bra, a pink tutu, and roller skates. I was never interested in being a jammer; I had much more fun when I got to be a blocker. Can’t say what’s really on your mind when the slacker who never arrives on time saunters into your office and applies for the same promotion a third time? Wall up with another team member and symbolically show the opposing player struggling up behind you that no one gets further ahead in life until they wise up.
But you know what say: it’s only fun until someone loses an eye; or in my case, arrives at work with a black eye. Everyone wanted to know how I hurt myself. I couldn’t tell them that the only way I could cope with my job was by joining a roller derby league so I told them I ran into a door frame. The next day I unlocked my office door to find a brochure for a local woman’s shelter waiting for me on the floor.
And so, my time as a member of Roxy’s Rockin’ Rollers was over; leaving me with more time to explore another stress reliever: half marathons. At first, training to run just over 21 kilometers in one shot hurt more than when I didn’t get an Easy Bake Oven for my seventh birthday. Plus I always felt disgusted by how sweaty I was afterwards. Gradually, however, it made me feel stronger. I ran a little more at each session. I hurt a little less in the morning, and the sweat came to represent how hard I was pushing myself.
I sang Pink Floyd’s Run Like Hell in my head during races. I repeatedly told Forrest to run. I had visions of myself crossing the finish line all Chariots of Fire slow-motion style. My husband was so amazed by how fast I ran my last race that the first words out of his mouth when he met me at the finish line weren’t “Congratulations, sweetie!”, they were “Wow, you looked like you were running for your life out there. It’s like you were being chased by demons.”
I essentially retired my sneakers after that. I tried to keep up with my training, but anytime my feet hit the pavement, I would hear my husband’s words. He was right, I was running away from demons – the people at work.
Running was replaced by rock climbing (ruined my manicures), kickboxing (those crazy chicks kick and punch back!), and other extreme sports. Then I thought that maybe I could benefit from more zen-like activities, such as yoga or meditation, but I would always doze off part way through a session.
Next I went the volunteering route. ‘How bad can you feel about your own life when there are so many people worse off than you?’ was my train of thought. Only instead of making me feel better about my life, volunteering ended up making me anxious and paranoid. What if I get breast cancer, too? I should check for lumps? What if I end up going blind? I should practice walking around in the dark now. What if I end up homeless? I should spend a night on the street in solidarity.
When I couldn’t calm my emotions through physical activity, I turned to food. Potato chip sandwiches, deep fried pickles, and chocolate syrup straight from the bottle – I downed them all.
I gave up for awhile after that. I figured that I might as well accept that I was doomed to arbitrate staff squabbles until I retired (thirteen years, eight months, and 28 days left to go…not that I’m counting). I gave myself little pep talks right before I went into negotiations with extended healthcare providers. And when I had to record whatever anyone in management said to an employee, I pretended that I was surrounded by world leaders who were trying to find a way to end World War III. World peace did depend on the head of accounting apologizing to a female staff member for complimenting her on her hair cut and I was there to witness history!
Then one day, one of the old farts in the office – I mean, one of our mature staff members (in years only) told another staff member to go and take a flying leap. After I settled that harassment claim, I asked myself two things. First, people still use such expressions in this day and age? Secondly, I wonder if it would help me if I took a flying leap?
I answered ‘apparently’ to the former and ‘Sure if it stops me from bitch slapping these idiots’ to the latter. That’s how I ended up the brave skydiver that I am today, and in just a few moments I will be making my fifth solo jump out of an airplane.
The first time I jumped, I screamed the whole way down. I screamed louder than a thirteen-year-old whose mom just surprised her with front row seats to see her favourite boy band. I screamed the way one of those useless girlie women scream when she sees a mouse scurry across the laundry room floor. I screamed as I imagine I would scream if I won the lottery and never had to step foot inside of my workplace ever again. What did I scream? Every nasty thing I have wanted to say to my coworkers, and I’ve continued to scream those things on every subsequent jump.
Skydiving is the best copy mechanism in the world. You should try it!