An appliance repairman called and woke us up this morning despite being asked twice to call later in the day. When Peggy complained, he said he preferred to call when it was convenient for him. As soon as she hung up, I called him back and got an answering machine. I then called the store where we bought the appliance, and asked for the owner. I knew better than to speak to him when enraged, but I indulged myself.
I have never seen my anger from the outside, but it must look pretty bad because, from the inside, it feels very much like my father behaved. He would tremble; his voice would quiver; and he would spare no measure of abusive language. I differ from him in that I rarely speak until I calm down, and I apologize when I do.
I can count three apologies that I have made in ten years, and one that I wish I had made (I cursed a stranger over who was next in line for a urinal). The total number of instances was small, but the size of my anger was big. If displays of extreme anger worked, they would at least have that to recommend them, but I doubt that anger ever works in the long term. Even if it gets a person what he wants on the outside, it corrodes him on the inside. Then there are its unseen consequences. For example, my foremost memory of my father is of a scary individual with whom I could never relax because I couldn’t predict all of the many things that would push him over the edge. He was lucky that he never got into a mortal scrape, and the same can be said for me.
I drove to the store today and apologized to the owner. He accepted, but I know he will think of me as one who bears watching.
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