I read an article awhile ago somewhere that said when customer service call centers record you call they have triggers for expletives and vocal stress, this way, they can use it to train employees (this is what a really upset person sounds like), and notify management if someone is getting out of hand. It would be really nice if we all cam with one of those stress indicators like the Scientologists in the subway – when I talk to my coworkers I could tell if they’re happy I’m being firm, or actually about to start crying because I hit a nerve.
Because no one wants to cry at work. Crying at work isn’t really something any of us want to make a habit of, and in general usually breaks down communication because people freak when you burst into tears in front of them. I used to cry over my homework and my dad would go apoplectic: “stop crying! I can’t understand you!” I saw rage, which would make me cry harder – I missed what he really meant: I’m your daddy and I just want to fix what is making you SO upset but I don’t know how.
Without homework anymore, I cry at work. (I also cry 100 ft under water, on ski slopes, on the subway, you name it.) At one job, my boss would yell until I cried. At another, I treated my amazing manager to frequent gross, snotty crying, because I was going through the tumultuous end of a relationship that was THE WORST, and it was a time of personal discovery – the tears were about relief and opening up to a woman who I aspire to grow up to be, not because anyone shouted. She helped me figure out how to express myself better, and taught me how to fake it until I make it at the office so I could turn fear into confidence. It paid off: the next job, crying was infrequent. I only really remember one particular episode where I hung up the phone with a colleague, double waterfalls flowing in frustration at not being able to move at lightening speed toward my ideas, only to look up and see my publisher in my office doorway
“I swear to god I will put my big girl pants on in ten minutes but right now I just need to cry about it!” I sobbed.
He walked away only to return with a bottle of Cuervo and a cup, “Do a tequila shot. Or man up, calm down and let’s fix this.” I did the shot and then calmed down and started working on a solution with his help.
Tears have always come quickly – hot liquid frustration – when I can’t find the right words to say or someone is not understanding me, when I feel overwhelmed. I’ve trained myself to choke back the tears, stop the tingly sensation in my nose, reduce the red veined flush from my eyes, hide it all with a fake sneeze or cough to justify the welling of my eyes. After Tequila boss, I went to another position where the stress, anxiety, coupled with the frustration at the entire machine of the company meant that some days I was in a perpetual state of welling. My rib cage would pulse like getting chest compressions from a cat. I often said nothing in meetings, knowing my voice would betray my emotional state. It helped alert my manager to the fact that I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t receiving the right training or tools to make me better at my job, we weren’t speaking the same language. While a positive result, I could have achieved the same with calm, direct, communication instead. My problem with the waterworks is that it makes people think I’m waaaay more upset than I really am. It makes me seem sensitive, which isn’t a bad thing, but it does make them question your ability to take tough news with grace or make difficult decisions, which makes them question whether they should put you in charge. It doesn’t say I’m any less capable of my job, but certainly less capable of surviving the workplace. It connotes instability when I want to promote reliability.
Sometimes it doesn’t have anything to do with what is happening. I can’t tie my foot knot in aerial silks, so I start sniveling. Trying not to snivel so my aerial coach doesn’t go home at night thinking she made a student cry only makes me cry harder. I want to just explain I’m not upset about the foot knot! It’s just one more thing I can’t with today! I want to list all the things I could have cried about today but didn’t because I manned up and took control of the situation and solved the problem instead of crying about it. But instead I look like that type-A perfectionist who takes a tiny failure and makes it a huge drama.
I haven’t cried in my current job. I’m in a decision making role and I want to appear confident and resourceful. Plus, everyone is really nice. Even after a particularly tough Monday, I was was cool and confident. There’s a boy that leaves me tongue-tied, but happy. I was on my way to aerial silks and I was going to rock that foot knot. The rain was making everything shiny and magical. While trying to fix my phone on the subway, I had missed my stop but I could multitask the slightly longer walk home by calling customer service.
Calm, polite, cool: “My power button wont actuate; please send me a replacement.” The man read a script that ended in lies about me voiding my warranty. I countered confidently: “There are 42 pages on Apple forums about this being a known hardware issue” but I got the same response. He wasn’t listening to me…and suddenly I could feel it: the missed subway stop was a longer walk in the rain, I forgot to waterproof my boots because I’m disorganized because I’m tired because if I managed my time better I wouldn’t have been up late writing a proposal because I napped most of Saturday because I was tired from going out Friday which I shouldn’t have done because I’m trying to save money and I spent money on a cab Thursday to see said boy who leaves me tongue-tied for the 3 hours he was in the city in between a business trip and going rock climbing someplace sunny and warm without me and its raining here and I could have asked to go to the sunny, warm, rock-filled place, but didn’t because he leaves me tongue-tied and I miss him but really am I kidding myself here that he even LIKES me because there was that one time one ex said NO ONE WOULD EVER LOVE ME and I believed him and why am I so stupid to believe that??? rushed up and geysered from my eyeballs.
I just want a replacement I squealed, the space between the words punctuated by charming f-bombs. Please hold for a manager. Hold music pulsed in rhythm with my hysterics. Within 30 seconds I was sharing those hysterics with a manager. 2 minutes and a new phone was in the mail. 12 hours and said new phone was in my hand, shrink wrapped with the ammonia smell of new plastic.
Yes, sometimes you have to man up. And sometimes, you just need to cry about it.
And sometimes you drink (or eat) tequila.
Makes about 15. Meringues are finicky. Don’t cry if you mess them up. Do it again but better and then make custard with all the yolks.
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teas cream of tartar
- pinch of salt
- 3 teas tequila, divided
- 1/3 cup lime jam or marmelade
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment or silpats. Put egg whites in the bowl of a large stand mixer, (Make sure it’s super clean! Fat kills meringues!), and beat on high until soft peaks form. Add cream of tartar, salt, and sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form and meringue is glossy. Pour in only 1 teas tequila and mix until just combined. Transfer mixture to pastry bag. Pipe into rounds with slight depression in the middle for jam. Bake for 2 hours until crisp and cookies lift easily from cookie sheets.
When cookies cool, warm jam over low heat in a small saucepan. Mix in 2 teas tequila, drop onto cookies. Store in tupperware for up to 3 days.