The first time I broke up with someone I did it via email. What can I say? I've never been very good at confrontation.
It wasn't quite as heartless as it sounds, the email thing. It was, however, ridiculously fucking complicated. First there was the email breaking up with him (four pages if you can believe it). Then there was the phonecall, not breaking up with him but asking if I could come over for a bit. Oh and suggesting he might want to check his email before I got there.
The funny thing was that, as it turns out, I should have followed my nonconfrontational instincts and left it at the email: when I arrived at his house it was to find him sitting beside the email, parts of which were highlighted, presumably with the intention of engaging in some vigorous rebuttal. (He not being yet old enough to realise there is no rejoinder when someone tells you that, no, they don't love you and me not being cruel enough to point out the obvious).
I'd like to blame this enounter for the ensuing lifetime of avoiding confrontation, if only so I would have something else to pin on the boy in question besides his theft of my copy of Catch 22. But the truth was that I'd been a pussy long before he came on the scene.
1997, for instance, found me at Hungry Jacks working under the supervision of my boss, henceforth referred to as Mad Bitchface.
Mad Bitchface was, as the name suggests, Mad. She was also a bitch with a face like a perpetually smacked bottom whose idea of a good time was to yell at her employees while others stood and gawped, battling with the dual emotions of pity and schaudenfraude.
This is probably why she liked me so much, given that I provided apparently endless fodder for her tirades. You see, hard as it is to believe, I wasn't very good at my job. I was actually pretty shit. It would be nice to pretend this was because I was some kind of teenage slacker who was shit simply because I couldn't GIVE a shit. This, however, would be slightly disingenous. I was then, as I am now, an eager-to-please nerd. I wanted to be good at the job and I tried hard to be good at the job. I just, you know, wasn't ACTUALLY good at the job.
The uniform I could manage. Even at 15 I knew how to iron a good shirt and fasten my name badge on straight, which was actually more than you could say for the miscreants who operated the broiler and gave me free chicken nuggets. Also in my repportoire was turning up to work on time and being friendly to customers. It was only when it came to everything else that I lost it.
And that was all that mattered to Mad Bitchface. She didn't care if I had a good attitude or whether my cheeks hurt from grinning all day - she cared about the long queue of cars waiting by the drive thru whose orders were far from being completed, or the junkie passed out in the toilets to whose presence I had apparently failed to alert her.
If I'd had any sense or if I'd not been so terrified of confrontation I might have stood up to Mad Bitchface. But I didn't. Just as I know that I wouldn't if the same situation were to happen tomorrow. As it was I just tried harder: I came in a bit early, I stayed a bit late. No, no of course I didn't need lunch breaks.
Pathetic. It didn't work either, though again this may have been my fault. Somehow I sense that the day it all went really wrong between Mad Bitchface and I was when she caught me chucking a sickie. It was a horrible moment: the night of my brother's 21st and Mum had agreed to call in sick for me, given I'd been unable to get out of my shift. My first faux sickie, I believe, and probably my last for at least another five years. What with everything going on, though, Mum forgot the most important part of the plan where she ACTUALLY called in sick for me. So it was that half an hour after I was supposed to have started work the phone rang. I answered it to find Mad Bitchface demanding to know where I was. The cringiest bit? When I told her (in a spontaneously croaky voice, although I'm not sure my symptoms ultimately matched up to Mum's excuse) that I'd have to go and get my Mum. Oh. The. Humanity.
So things between Mad Bitchface and I were at rock bottom about then. She hated me more than ever and I gave her good reason to hate me more than ever by becoming even crapper and more or less losing any enthusiasm I'd ever had for the job. Instead of turning up early I dawdled through the door with wet hair. Any opportunity I had and I was out the back to flirt in an unbeilievably clumsy fashion with the hottie on fries (oh Brad, and we could have been so great together, too). Somewhere in there I dumped a whole bag of the milkshake mixture stuff all over the cooler-room floor.
Then a breakthrough: I got another job at a deli up the road. The pay was just as shit and my new boss was a lumbering chain-smoking haystack of a woman who would later prove quick to anger and slow to do any work but I was desperate.
Finally, I thought, this was my chance. Finally I could stick it to Mad Bitchface. This thought alone sustained me. As I worked the till, cheerfully asking people If They Would Like Fries With That I drafted a resignation letter so seethingly full of venom it would render Mad Bitchface silent for the first time in her life. Mentally I scripted dramatic showdowns in which i got all the best one-liners and she was reduced to gawping, stuck with ellipsis-riddled dialgue intended to convey her ineptitute in all matters.
But people don't change. Not really. We might change the way we look, learn to shave off some of our sharp edges and grow accustomed to concealing the worst parts of our characters but ultimately we are what we are and I was never going to become someone capable of delivering even one of my carefully-constructed denouncements of her moral character. The fiery dialogue of my confrontation was gone altogether when I hatched a plan to simply dump my resignation letter in Mad Bitchface's inbox and depart on a 2 week holiday, never to return. The vitriolic letter of resignation became an apologetic epistle that all but ended in a series of xoxoxoxos and a promise to catch up for coffee.
But just as I ultimately vented my rage with the dumped boy whose misfortunes kicked off this blog by breaking radio silence two weeks later with an incredibly bitchy demand for my copy of Catch 22, so too did I manage a parting shot at Mad Bitchface when I refused to return my (super fugly) uniform. Ignore the fact the entire cost was deducted from my pay and you can score one for Kate. That's right - who ever said I was a pussy?