At the end of a short work week [I had off on both Martin Luther King Jr Day and Inauguration Day (this is standard in this county, not just because of Obama but because we teachers and children going to school supposedly create too much traffic for the attendees)], but as all of the Ladies Who Lunch (that would be the English teachers in the workroom) determined yesterday, short weeks just compress the requisite amount of weekly pressure into less time making it a tougher-than-normal week. And so, to top off an intense week I got to sit around that big round table again with mediator man and exman (“man” being a pejorative term for both).
Asking a student why he plagiarized a paper, speaking to a parent whose son cheated, asking another student to stop making sounds that befit a football stadium, parsing “no, that is wrong” in a manner that does not hurt anyone’s tender sensibilities, and worrying about yet another student who is seeping into depression was nothing compared to those 45 minutes. Oh, and having my co-teacher out of the room most of time, "tracking down information on our newest student." Um, shouldn't you do that during your planning period and not during class? Not only was exman in “form” with the insults, the bizarre interpretations of reality, and the demands, but mediator man was in all effect a lump of clay.
Two times exman threatened me, and neither time did mediator man say anything. I don’t know, but if his job is to create an environment conducive to discussion and mutual decision-making, having one client say to the other client “I’ll get you” would seem to be a little red flag for speaking up and scolding said belligerent client. But no, mediator man did nothing. I guess he was intimidated by exman, but have no fear, I have come a long way from being the woman who is called “nothing” with nary a protective word. And in keeping with exman—consensus here—being a sociopath narcissist, his rejoinder to me was, “No, that’s not a threat, that’s a promise.”
It all started with his opening ploy in the waiting room: “Hi, Laura.” Now this man has not uttered my name in years, so I guess he was trying to show that he’s really a decent guy. But that was dispelled quickly, when he told mediator man that we did not get carpet for the house because of my outrageous behavior. Oh yeah, being insulted in Lowes and then sashaying out because of it is outrageous to one who thinks his mouth can say whatever it wants and everyone else will bow before it.
Anyway. We should not have been in the same room; we are not there to improve our relationship or see how we can better parent our children, we are there to see how we can best be rid of the other, to make it so that we never have to see each other again. We should have been in separate rooms.
My deciding ahead of time that I will waive part of the money that he owes me in order to get the price of the home where I would like it to be is MUCH different than him swaggering in and stating in his opening five-minutes of oratory that he will feel much better about reducing the price of the house if I waive the money he owes me. That is the difference between volunteering to give blood and being told you have to give blood. The “Laura” trick, went straight out the window at that.
And then mediator man proved yet again how ineffectual he is when I refused to agree to this within a second of him saying it. Mediator man said “well, if you don’t agree to waive it, then I guess we do not have an agreement.” Off I went. Berating mediator man and his being a lousy mediator. “What, you want me to reveal all of my cards within five minutes of getting here,” was one phrase that came out of my non-reticent mouth.
In the end, we got awfully close to an agreement, because I was channeling all of the advice I have been given and was focusing on what I want and trying not to let my bristles lead the way—or lead away. But no, when I gave up all I was willing to and he wouldn’t give up anything, to the mediator’s and exman’s comments that “we don’t have an agreement,” I was simply unable to stretch myself out on the floor. Nope. So I elegantly tied my scarf around my neck, picked up my things and walked out.
When the elevator opened on the ground floor I was already crying. I was crying as I tried to explain first to my mother and then to my father how trying it is to try to be sensible and focused on the long term when you are being humiliated, manipulated and belittled. Okay, no one can make me feel those things—having someone try to humiliate me, manipulate me, belittle me.
Thirty minutes later mediator man called to say that he convinced exman to accept my final position. Whoopee. I could have done without the thirty minutes of tearing tears.
HOUSE FOR SALE, PRICE REDUCTION. I am not just visualizing the SOLD sign, but the apartment that I will move to and my new things from IKEA.