Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Passive-Aggressive or Oblivious?

     In the early stages, obliviousness and passive-aggressiveness look a lot alike.  Various context clues can help determine which behavior you're dealing with.  I don't enjoy overgeneralizing, but often if the behavior is done by a man, it's obliviousness and if done by a woman, it's passive-aggressive.  More specifically, if my mother does it, it's probably passive-aggressive.
     For example: leaving an empty carton of milk setting on top of the trash can.  This was my mother's passive-aggressive way of saying "some asshole in this house drank the last of the milk and left it in the refrigerator.  Come home with more milk, or don't come home at all."  We all learned this when forced to eat dry cereal for a week.  However, if my platonic male roommate left an empty carton of milk on top of the trash can, it would mean simply "I do not know where this should go.  I'll put it here." 
    I came home the other day and my living room was full of books.  Some were in boxes, some were just in piles on the coffee table.  The ones that were in boxes were in open boxes, of course, not the neat sort of book box that would make for easy stacking.  These were the types of boxes that get spread all over.  It looked as though we were at one end of a used bookstore sale- either the local used bookstore went out of business and we were the lucky recipients of their inventory, or we were going to start selling used books from our living room. 
     Currently, because of my impending move, I am living out of a suitcase that sets in the corner of the living room and I am sleeping on the couch.  It's not ideal, but it's better than sleeping in the bus station.  These piles of books boxed in my suitcase and created a sort of crib out of the couch, except instead of bars it was piles of books.  It was late when I came home and I didn't have the time or energy to really deal with what was in front of me.  I pushed a few boxes out of the way to get to my suitcase, and then I crawled into the book-tomb. 
     The next morning I was upset about the books.  An obstacle course had been set up.  I accidentally knocked a stack over and felt a little good about it.  The rest of my day was fueled with a decent amount of rage over it.  The previous weekend I had filled the living room with all of my worldly possessions.  They sat there for about three days restricting access to the room before the movers came to haul them away.  There was a bit of me that thought perhaps the book thing was passive-aggressive retaliation for that.  If my mother had done it, it would have been.  And then I started to think more about the culprit of the book-splosion.
     Obliviousness.  That's all it was.  He had books and he thought "I do not know where these should go.  I will put them here."  That was it.  He was not trying to teach a lesson or prove a point.  The next day he politely asked if they were in the way; he could move them if they were.  I thought that was a bit like a beaver asking if the dam he just built was in the way.  How could it not be in the way?  But he really just didn't notice.  Yes, they're in the way.  I moved some of them and created a path so I could get to my suitcase.  I do still have to sleep in a book-tomb though.      

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