Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Mortified

I am so embarrassed.

The most embarrassing thing that could possibly happen at work, happened today. 

I cried.  In front of my bosses, my coworkers.  At least half the office saw it, and I can only hope the rest of the office won’t hear about it.

I have enough self love to know that the reason I cried is not my fault….not entirely my fault at least, mostly the fault of a dangerous psychopath, but I still keep replaying the incident and wishing I had ducked into the bathroom to compose myself before walking into work, shaken, and welling up with tears.

This is a story, my friends, of road rage.

It started very, very boring.  Driving to work, listening to recaps of the presidential debate, binders full of women this, act of terror that. 

So many binder jokes to choose from.  I got tired and picked this one.

I turned my blinker on to change lanes because my work exit was approaching, and began to change lanes.  The sports car behind me chose to change lanes at the same time (no blinker, of course), and I guess, having expected or hoped not to find me in front of his car again in that lane, he gave me several long honks, and then proceeded to menacingly tail my car. Inches. I could see his face.  After a minute of tailing me, I gave him the acknowledgement he was seeking and flipped him off.  Not to mention, I was annoyed that he honked at me for rightfully making a lane change.

Once I exited the freeway, it was clear that he was still tailing.  I turned left at a light; he got right behind me.  I turned into my business center; he was still behind me looking pissed as all hell.  I drove into the parking lot for my office building; so did he.

Then, not sure whether he was following me or coincidentally headed to the same building, I decided to hope for the latter and drove toward a parking spot.  He sped in front of me, blocked the parking spot with his car, rolled his window down, and spewed profanities.  Over, and over, and over again.

He yelled at me for a solid minute (I’m not recalling much except for the word “fuck” was used a lot), and I literally did nothing.  I didn’t blink, smile, frown, or open my mouth.  I just watched him yell, anxious for him to move his car so I could park, and hoping he didn’t flash a gun (which, based on his rage and unfortunately his stereotypical punk appearance, I assumed he did have one). The more I didn't respond to him, the angrier he seemed to get.

He finally pulled away and parked in front of the building, and proceeded to walk towards the same building where I work. 

I don’t know why I didn’t stay in the car at that point.  I was wondering what I should do with my car since I was worried he would come back and damage it.  But I guess I was thinking that my coworkers were my safety, and if I got to them they could protect me or tell me what to do.

So I walked inside the building, and he was there, slowly walking up the stairs, waiting for me.  He glared at me with darts and said more angry things. He walked into the glass doors of the business right across from our firm, eyes on me until he touched the doors.

I walked into the glass doors of my work across the way, stunned, and froze in front of our secretary, a woman I consider a dear friend.  I failed to get any comprehensible words out.

“I….just….”

“what!? What’s wrong?”

“I….was….(shaky voice, eyes begin to well, two partners whose office doors are open right behind the reception desk look up to see what is wrong)….harassed in the parking lot.”

I couldn’t talk anymore, because I could feel I was about to start crying, and really REALLY DID NOT want this to be happening in front of these partners. 

“what!? By who?”

“By….” (I point across to the other glass doors.)  “By HIM,”  I say, as he walks out the doors of the other business.

The two partners are standing up now, fully engaged, and all four of us look out the glass doors at the Road Rager.  He sees we are all looking at him, and knows that I've just tattled, so he starts talking at us.

The partners step outside and ask, what is going on.

His response, so innocently, with a newly adopted restrained tone.  “I was just trying to ask her why she flipped me off.”  He talked a little more, became a little more defensive and angry, at which point:

Partner: “hey, hey, nobody flipped you off.”

Me: “um, yes, I did, he was….”

(some unintelligible chatter, everyone is talking at once)

Partner: “hey hey, go on with your day.  Go on with your day.”  And he shooed him away.  

He was just a courier dropping off something at the business next door.

We quickly got back in the office, and everyone is looking at me.  I am so not okay.  Knowing I am about to cry is making me want to cry.  I try and explain a little more about what happened; how he followed me into the parking lot, and threateningly blocked my car to yell at me.  Tears….coming….oh no.  One partner puts his hand on my shoulder, in comfort.  This is so, unrecoverably, awkward.

I go to my office and try to calm down.  I can’t even describe how badly I was hating what just happened, not because I was threatened, but because I was SO EMBARRASSED to be seen this way at work.  Why didn’t I keep driving elsewhere until he wasn’t following me? Why didn’t I go in the bathroom before heading into the office?  Why didn’t I just walk back to my office instead of stopping to tell the secretary what had happened? Why did I flip off a psychopath? Whyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

The rest of the day only led to more embarrassment as I got teary eyed again when one partner asked me what exactly had happened (I hadn't been able to explain much at all during the tears, and I think they understood to let me be alone to try and get composed). He asked why it was shaking me up so much--was there some history here? No! I explained I had never experienced anything remotely like this before. I explained further, laughing with wet eyes still, that the reason I was so upset was because I was so embarrassed!

The day got better, albeit only slightly, when one of the partners did the absolute perfect thing.  He came to talk to me, joked about how he had assumed he could save the day and tell the Road Rager he was wrong, only to hear me pipe up, “um, I did flip him off…” and then shared his own hilarious stories about road rage. 

Cheered up, still mortified
I can’t wait for this to be 5 years behind me.  So embarrassed.

Anyway.  For fucks sake, I already know this, especially living in Oakland where people literally get killed over road rage (although my work is in a much sweeter family suburb area) but we don’t always practice what we preach: don’t flip another driver off.  I don't think I ever will again for the rest of my life.  Lesson learned, it only takes once to learn this one.

And while I'm giving advice: grow a pair.  I can't explain why I couldn't compose myself.  It bothers me, because I know that no other male over the age of 15 would have cried over this, and its frankly terrible for my profession for a woman to look "weak" or overly emotional in this way.  I question if the partner was onto something when he wondered if there was some underlying issue from my past that made this shake me up so much.  The only other time I can recall crying because someone yelled at me was my dad yelling at me, and that happened a lot (still occasionally does, although there is less yelling and more disapproving silent treatments, which affects me just the same).  I also tend to get teary when I haven't slept much; when I am stressed; and maybe, unbeknownst until know, when I DON'T RUN FOR 8 DAYS.  Hmmmmm?

I'm gonna go for a swim, where nobody can see me cry.  Or pee.  Just kidding.  Holy shit this was an honest post.  Thank you public diary.

46 comments:

  1. A case of no running endorphins I betcha!! I have a stress fracture at the moment and cried three times today. Once because the doc wouldn't give me crutches (without a $100 deposit), once for being yelled at and once for missing a bus and then my ferry in the rain. I don't normally cry. Thanks for the post, misery loves company ;)

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  2. What an @sshole! He acts obnoxious then turns into a crazed stalker when you flip him off?!

    A few months ago I was driving n a residential area and slowed down to let a family cross the street. The man behind me went crazy sped beside me (almost hitting the family) blocked me at the next intersection and cursed me out. I was so stunned that I just stared at him! I always thought that if something like that would happen I would curse him out back and be done with it. Instead I just sat there then drove home with my hands shaking. I felt like such a wimp. Sometimes your body just takes over.

    I'm sorry that guy totally sucked! Your partners dont sone like they mind so honestly I wouldn't worry about it.

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  3. Oooh friend, I feel your pain. I'm deathly afraid of crying at work myself - which is tough when a judge is like "YOU FUCKING FUCK MORON HOW DID YOU EVEN GET OUT OF LAW SCHOOL HOLY SHIT YOU ARE SO DUMB I AM SENDING YOUR CLIENT TO JAIL FOR A HUNDRED YEARS!" (I'm paraphrasing, slightly). It's strange, too, being a woman in our profession and feeling like you always have to be so stoic lest anyone think you might just go off the deep end at that time of the month or something. I was really angry yesterday about something that happened in court, and I kept apologizing to people about overreacting and being hurt and whatever - I just didn't want anyone to think I was "overemotional," you know? So I feel you, but man, people should understand what you went through. I don't care who you are - that's a scary situation, and I'm glad you're okay.

    In other news, I too am much more of a crier when I am hungry/overtired/not exercising. Overtired especially. Sigh.

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    1. I am guaranteed to cry in front of a judge one day. It's bound to happen.

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  4. It's completely understandable to be upset by something like that - I'm just grateful that I don't drive! That road-ragey guy sounds scary as Hell.

    I am also more prone to crying when I can't/don't run. I will literally be a bawling mess of tears for most of the day without a decent length run, regardless of any external sources of stress. I also cry when people shout at me regardless of running - I am a total wuss who can't stand confrontation.

    xxx

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  5. Wow! That's so scary! Seriously, that's definitely something to get worked up over. You had no idea what this person was going to do, but I think you did the right thing. If you had gone straight to the bathroom he could have followed you. Getting to work was the right call. And, yeah, maybe a guy wouldn't have cried, but I know plenty of guys who would have been visibly shaken too. Plus, it's not like you cried at work over a case or over a meeting with your boss or a fight with your Gentleman. Sometimes it's just a knee-jerk reaction to cry. It's totally fine. Glad everything is ok!

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  6. Ah so scary! Just another reason I'm so glad I don't have to drive to work. I remember several scary road rage occurrences, but thankfully none of them resulted in the person going to the same location.

    In other news...chocolate brooks egg? WTF. W-T-F. Can't get access other places that I can bitch about it from work, so I'll just put my rant here. Anyone want my Ravennas and PIECE O'SHIT Cadences? Rant done.

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    1. hahaha, I had no idea what you meant about the chocolate egg thing until now...only one blog I read received one. I wish I had thought of this rant first, it's a good one. I'll give you credit if I steal it.

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  7. It could be worse. I cried because one of my kindergarteners tried to beat me up during one of his rage attacks! I looked upset after I carried his ass down to the office and some of my teacher friends suggested I take a break in the nurses room with them. Of course, I started crying. They were so sweet and most of them have cried At work before, too. I worked with very few men, so that was easier. The one guy that did see was so sweet, so I wasn't too embarrassed afterwards. I would have preferred not letting this five year old get to me, though!

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    1. Is that punk kid in jail yet? I like to think you can tell by age 5 which kids are going to grow up to ruin the world. This kid is one of them.

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  8. Oh please, this isn't about something you did wrong. Should you have flipped the guy off? Well, who cares--either way his reaction was so ridiculously an overreaction to what happened that what you did or didn't do is completely irrelevant.

    That said, the crying thing: I know we women always want to be strong, but this sounded like a completely ridiculous situation and crying is WELL WITHIN your rights. It sounds like you work with some really nice people.

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  9. First off, what a complete and utter psycho for following you! Road-rage in America is still pretty confounding to me. I'm glad you got out of it without being physically hurt.

    Second, you're right; there is something very specifically mortifying about being a female lawyer and crying in front of your coworkers. I know it, I've been there. It has a special layer of awkwardness to it, because I dunno, we're supposed to be tougher than that? When it happened to me (more than once) I also assumed that I was letting down the whole population of female lawyers and making them all seem weak.

    But but but, as Kristen once reminded me, its just an emotion. A reaction. Its only as bad as, for example, getting audibly angry. I didn't lose my credibility (at least I dont think) and I was not treated differently as a result. I went on with the appearance of being just as competent and in control, and I think that's how others saw me. I just had a bloody bad day, and that was totally ok.

    All that is to say, it won't take years to get over! Its awkward as hell, but that's all it is!

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    1. It IS just an emotion....but I think I have a pretty good grasp on containing my other ones. If I'm very angry, I can plaster on a smile. If I'm about to cry? not a lot I can do to prevent it.

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  10. "Knowing I am about to cry is making me want to cry."

    Ditto. Hugely.

    I hate crying. Hate it. As soon as the threat of crying starts I can't make my point about whatever is making me cry. It's useless, my face is puffy for hours. Ug. HATE it.

    I've cried at work, but my brother is my boss, which makes it better, I guess, but still awful.

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  11. Dang what a story...that is a ridiculous situation all around and that dude was a prick. Hang in there you did nothing wrong, I hate road rage assholes, too many of them these days!

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  12. To be honest...I don't think crying about it was a bad thing. A man with clear anger management problems followed you and was verbally abusive to you. You had no idea that it would transpire like that nor did you know what else he could/would have done. Be thankful you were in a public location with people around you because unfortunately, you don't know what people are capable of in any given situation. I think your coworkers knew it must've been something pretty bad given your visible feelings of concern/fear/upset/etc. to the man/situation and were understanding of how you were feeling and of your reactions. Your profession aside, I think they were genuinely interested/concerned in your well-being and making sure you were safe/okay...human-being to human-being. I am glad everything turned out okay and I'm sorry that you had to go through that...it definitely would have shaken me up.

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    1. I am so impressed/jealous with how many slashes/slants you used! ;) thanks for your input.

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  13. At least you didn't cry about WORK, which would have been 100% more embarrassing! ;) Kristen

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  14. What a jerk, I seriously don't understand why people do things like that. In those types of situations I just remind myself to be thankful that he didn't do that to a little grandma or some 16 year old that just got their license. Even though you got upset, at least you handled it and had the support of your co-workers.

    Avoidance/no reaction is the best thing you can do - I learned that lesson quickly while out doing 100+ mile training rides on my bike for Ironman. People are jerks when they drive, and any psycho that's willing to follow you, threaten you, or otherwise endanger you needs to be given wide berth.

    Glad you're ok, embarassement trumps gunshot any day. Drive/run/swim safe!

    Glad you're ok

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  15. While I hate crying and only do it a couple times a year, I also hate the fact that it makes us seem less tough when we do so. Over the last couple years I've tried to let myself cry a little more, and not be so mad at myself when I do it. Why should we feel forced to stifle our natural reactions, especially in a truly scary situation? Why can't we show our true feelings once in a while?
    Granted, I understand the legal world, and I know that it's still a battle for women to be seen equally there -- more so than some professions. (One sad, traumatic case involving an extremely intelligent female judge still makes me mad three years later.) But you spend of your waking hours at work, and you should be able to occasionally show some feelings in front of your co-workers. We all should be able to do that.

    Try not to beat yourself up over something that was NOT your fault. Flipping someone off (rightfully so) should NOT cause you to fear for your safety. Flipping that guy off was the equivalent of one "F you." But his tailgating was the same thing. His following and confrontation and yelling and cursing were a whole different matter. You had every right to be freaked out.

    AND you aren't running. The lack of endorphins are going to bring out some abnormal reactions. I've gotten better at controlling endorphin withdrawal, but only because I've had to take soooo many days off from soooo many stupid injuries. It still sucks. But it doesn't last forever. Hang in there.

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  16. Wow, crazy story. That guy sounds like a jackass. You obeyed the rules of the road by signaling before changing lanes, he didn't, he honked, he got mad, should have been end of story at that point. What more did this guy want? Flipping him off probably wasn't the best thing to do, though sometimes if a guy is going crazy at me on the road for whatever reason, I usually just give them the peace sign - this puts them over the edge even more lol

    What exactly was this guy going to do when he met up with you? Fight you? I wonder what these clowns expect to happen when they meet up with their road ragers in person outside the car. The guy sounds like he lost his marbles.

    And don't worry about the crying, sounds like a tough situation.

    And to make you feel better, I had an embarassing story that happened at work 10 years ago - I was being a courier for my old company, and I was supposed to take a package up to SF that day. The weather was awful around the bay area, and so I was bracing for a rough drive up there. While driving on 280 north, it was white knuckle driving - there was at least 1 accident on the side of the road every mile or so. Then after seeing maybe 8-9 cars on the side of the road, a car to my left comes out of nowhere, and starts doing multiple 360 spinouts in the middle of the lane - I forget if the car crashed or not. I was getting more and more freaked out, and it got to the point that I had to pull over about 15 miles out and come back to the office.

    When I got back to the office, I met with the admin guy about what happened, and lost it emotionally. Because I was so freaked out about the driving condiditions, I sent out an email to the whole company warning them of the driving conditions. A lot of people thought that email was over the top lol.

    Though that same day a girl from my office crashed her car into the median of the freeway on 280 while driving home, so even though they gave me a hard time about it, the email was prophetic. And I still think that day set the record for the most accidents on the roads in bay area history.

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    1. Whoa, what a story! thanks for sharing it. Driving in an intense rainstorm where you start hydroplaning on the freeway is so, so terrifying. I can totally relate. I'm sure the office felt like asses for thinking your email was dramatic once your warnings came true...

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  17. I am glad you are ok.
    this is scary sh...t

    I would have cried too...for sure 1000% and I hate crying if front of people...I cried at hood to coast after I got mugged during my night leg and I was really mad at myself for that.

    anyway
    on the road rage...I flipped a guy the first year I was living here and something similar happened to me. not as bad as you though but enough to scare me and I have not done it since.....

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  18. Why are people so fucking crazy?? Like seriously. What did harassing you and acting like a totally nutjob do for that douchebag? I'm so sorry that happened!!

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  19. Holy. Shit. I would have cried too if it makes you feel any better. Plus, I think that is really scary to have a strange man follow you and go inside your workplace. Crying in front of co-workers is the worst, especially when you are female. Now you just need to somehow make a man at work cry so they forget you cried.

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    1. hehe. I think if I could make golf disappear from the category of "sports," I could make most of the men cry.

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  20. While his tailgating was aggressive driving, so is gesturing to someone to fuck off by flipping them off. One aggressive act after another will only invite more aggression. People, be smart, be safe, breathe and drive on, Let it go. There are some real psychopaths out there who won't stop at yelling at you in a parking lot. Not worth it. Glad you are ok RR.

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    1. Exactly. That's why the whole situation was so embarrassing. I did something stupid, and my coworkers and bosses now know about it. And then, of course, the crying...

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    2. You did something human, both the hand gesture and the crying. Don't be embarrassed for being human. You'll be able to laugh about it soon enough :) Just take note for next time, though, and don't stoop to the aggressors level...you never know who's in that next car, just not worth it.

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  21. Crying doesn't mean anything - it can simply be a release of tension/anxiety/emotion. You were pissed off, intimidated and probably scared all within a very short period of time... that emotion has to go somewhere, you know? Some people just have different ways of releasing that tension.

    I'm glad all is ok and that you had some back up at work. Imagine if no one had come to see if you were ok? that would have been way worse.

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  22. Woah, intense story! Glad all is OK.

    I used to be the biggest cry baby. I figured out that a lot of times, it wasn't really about being emotionally upset, it's just a release of emotions - whether it's fear, frustration, anger, or stress.

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  23. Oh man. This same farking thing happened to me last year or some variation. I will tell you the story.

    I'm cruising along our 3 lane, going 70 in a 60. Come up to a dude doing 55 in the 60, get in the middle lane from the right (exit) lane and prepare to exit. Dude, speeds up and starts flashing his lights. I just figured he was flashing for the fun of it.

    He then exits behind me...and as I get to my light it is green. He follows me...turns into my parking lot and I start driving to leave and he blocks me. Gets out and proceeds to yell at me. I should've told him to mind his business, be on his way...but I didn't. I told him he was "scary" and that his tactics "wouldn't change my driving". I did apologize for possibly frightening him. But seriously...what a douchelord. In the future, I'll just tell him to leave the private property...hopefully there isn't a next time.

    Also...I cried a bit too. Because honestly I replayed it in my mind, trying to assign blame. But there was none. I drove reasonably, gave him room, AND used signal. Stupid jerk.

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    1. whhhaaaat? it sounds like you did nothing wrong at all. Worth following you to yell and argue about it? not at all. I'm keeping "douchelord" in my vocab now, thanks

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  24. Oh my god, what a shithead. Honestly, I would have probably acted the same way, but maybe would have been frantically calling Josh the entire time.

    However, I'm also a fan of tears. Yeah it's ugly, but I kind of think they are there fo a reason. No shame in crying, that's some scary shit my friend.

    P.S. Where are you swimming?!

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    1. CLUB SPORT GIRRRLLLLLL. If you aren't busy swimming in big-girl lakes and make it back to Club Sport, give me a text! I flip flop between being there in the a.m. and p.m.

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  25. I totally agree with Anonymous...your responses were entirely human. I do think that the historical link to being yelled at is spot on. I could help you out with some free, unlicensed therapy on this one...I have TONS of experience dealing with this sort of stuff and then healing with the help of an excellent therapist. Happy to pass the new knowledge and skill set along to a friend at no cost :) Really wish I'd seen this a couple of days ago. Glad you are not hurt. Maybe it would be good to get his name and address from that across the hall business via the courier company...we could go TP his house...or do that dog shit in a burning paper bag on the doorstep thing.

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    1. You are such a good sharer :) I'm just going to hire you for free as my PT and my therapist. What else...my coach?

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  26. GRRRR I am so pissed off at that asshole man for ruining your day! He definitely has messed with Karma and will get what he deserves! :)
    I am loving that you're loving swimming!! I have been swimming a lot too...it makes my upper body feel so strong and I notice that my guns are bigger and my arms to get achy during long-runs.
    I hope you're having a great weekend!!
    xoxo!

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  27. holy jesus in all the world. this fucking sucks dude.

    fact at me: when I get really REALLY pissed, I start crying. then I get really pissed that I'm crying so I cry some more. I would pay a million dollars to have my tear ducts removed so I could never cry at work again. WTF. feel better now? (probably not).

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  28. Man. Jerks like that really get to me too. I cannot STAND being yelled at. What a bully. And ughhhh other drivers piss me off so much.

    I have only cried at work once as well. This lady who is known at my work for being a mean, condescending bitch started yelling at me on the phone and talking to me like a four-year-old about something that wasn't even my organization's fault, and I nearly lost it on her. It was the only time I have ever reacted unprofessionally on the phone at work, and the confrontation of it was just too much for me. I hung up and burst into tears. So, I feel ya. Crying at work is awkward, especially when everyone rushes over and makes a big deal about it - it just makes it worse.

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    1. Yeah, the rushing over...I got a few hugs and it made me feel SO silly! But I would totally have done the same thing if someone else was crying. And it actually felt pretty nice.

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  29. That is really scary. I'm so glad you are okay!!! And thank goodness it wasn't dark or late at night....who knows what that weirdo would have done!

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  30. Oh wow! I just got to this right now. That is a horrible story. I've had similar experiences where people follow me for a little while, last time I called the police immediately (911) as I had my daughter (about 1 at the time) in the car - some one was made that I honked the horn when he almost hit me as a was driving dangerously.

    But, I'm so sorry for this. I'm glad nothing worse occurred. You had every right to cry.

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  31. It happened at worked and I don't think that it is a bad thing. There are things that they happen and it isn't your fault and it is a natural response.

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