Monday, June 23, 2008

We Must Remember They Are Fragile

Sad news from the neighborhood. On our way to the Blog Meet Sunday, Tam and I detoured to see the chawed-up street ('cos civil engineering in action is, like, kewl) but when we got there, whups, an ambulance was square in the middle of the street with blinkers going and we could see the paramedics hustling a stretcher along the diggings and neighbors milling about.

We turned and went, figuring our best contribution would be to stay out of the way. The Public Works crew has been shoring up the excavation as they move along but a steep-sided trench is a dangerous place to work; the old storm sewer was bedded in fine sand, cave-ins happen and my first thought was some poor guy had gotten buried.

Wrong. They only worked a half-day.

There are a lot of older folks hereabouts and Tam's guess was, perhaps one of them needed urgent medical attention.

Wrong.

It was a fairly young man and he was quite dead. Neighborhood rumor was he'd had a stressful day, went to the store for groceries and had a sudden heart attack walking back to his house. He fell over and passed on in a neighbor's front yard.

This happens to men more than women. Talking generally and statistically, I'm convinced men handle stress a little differently than women and given that these days, they've not many opportunities to slay the mighty elk or fearsome boar with only a spear, or go shirtless, don a Viing helm and invade England in a dragon-boat, the poor dears try to keep it in and the pressure gets worse and worse and -- boom. And it holds at least as true for the big, tough guys as it does the sensitive types and the ones who look high-risk for a coronary.

The chat shows tell us we have to get our menfolk to "talk about it," that they need to "share their feelings," and while there's some truth there (guys, tell the wimmin in yer life how ya feel about 'em every once in a while, pleeze ?), my take on it (having watched my own long-term relationship melt down and being the daughter of a Father With A Temper)* is most of the time it's better to leave 'em be when they're in a turbulent mood. Honest. Try an' draw 'em out and you're just needling them. It's not right. It just makes it all the worse for them.

I don't know how much of the rumored details of this tragedy past the bare facts are true and how much is merely idle speculation; I have elided and condensed what came to me. But it seems to me that not every vulnerability is obvious -- and not every argument needs to be won. There's no need to be a doormat but a judicious ear for when to use the soft answer that turneth away wrath is an important skill.
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* Up to a certain level of boil, my Dad had an interesting anger-coping strategy: he would become hilariously, wickedly, snarkily funny. Rapier wit? The subject of Dad's wrath were fileted, most often in absentia.

1 comment:

Gregg said...

Having an outlet for the stress, which often manifests as anger, is also a VERY good thing. Punching bags, inanimate preferably unless a combat sport is being studied, the aforementioned combative type sport, or even violent video games can all help to channel that dangerous aggression into safe and socially acceptable channels.