What do you mean, he’s in the restroom?

cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by mpujals

If you’ve ever doubted whether assertiveness works or not, I come bearing testimony that might serve to restore your faith.

Allow me to explain.

For the past two years, we’ve been dealing with the maddening situation of a leaky  roof.

You’d figure a situation like this could be dealt with through a simple file claim to our insurance company.

But alas, such is not the case.

It appears we have to go through a homeowner’s coop who dispatches the designated personnel in charge of investigating homeowners’ claims.

After this, the powers that be determine whether your circumstances merit repair funds and another six months to actually disperse them.

Ironically, those funds are the same money we’re paying in monthly coop fees.

Consequently, we’ve drowned in a sea of red tape for the past twenty-four months.

I wish I could say that we’ve finally achieved success in this endeavor, but the truth is that half the team has failed miserably.

And by half the team, I’m referring to the Significant Other.

His inability to find the time, mental energy, physical energy, or “the right words,” have left us with a soggy roof that, according to my calculations, will be falling on our heads in a week.

However, I shouldn’t complain.

After all, I’m guilty of having sent the wrong “man” for the job.

Moreover, we all know what happens when there’s a mission failure.

Yep. A cleaner is called in.

And yes, that cleaner would be me; the right wo-“man.”

However, my cleaner duties were not as simple as I thought and I had to resort to a different sort of assertiveness.

One that went something like this:

Me: Good morning. This is Bella calling for Mr. So and So.

Receptionist: Let me check if he’s in.

(A moment later)

I’m sorry. It appears that Mr. So and So is in a meeting. Would you like to leave a message?

Me: No, thanks. The last fifty messages left by my significant other haven’t been replied to, so I don’t think leaving one more is going to make a difference. I’ll call back later.

(Twenty minutes later)

Me: Hello. This is Bella, calling for Mr. So and So.

Receptionist: One moment, please.

(A moment later)

I’m sorry. It appears Mr. So and So is out to lunch. May I take a message?

Me: No, thank you. I’ll call back later.

Receptionist: But…

Thirty minutes later.

Me: This is Bella

Receptionist: Yes, I recognize your voice. (Really?) He’s not in now.

Me: Who’s not in now?

Receptionist: Mr. So and So.

Me: So you do remember! And do you know where he would “appear” to be?

Receptionist: I believe he’s in the bathroom.

Me: You believe or it appears?

Receptionist: Aren’t they the same thing?

Me: I don’t know. You tell me.

Receptionist: (Exasperated) Ms. Bella, you’re going to have to call later.

Me: No, thank you. I’ll just wait till he’s finished.

Receptionist: I’m afraid that’s not possible. We’re not allowed to tie up the line.

Me: You mean to tell me there’s only one line on your switchboard?

Receptionist: It would appear so.

Ten minutes later.

Me: This…

Receptionist: He’s still not out.

Me: Are you kidding me?

Receptionist: I assure you I’m not.

Me: And I assure you that I’ve cleared my schedule so I can take care of this matter once and for all. Given this is all I have on my “to do” list today, I will continue to call every ten minutes until I speak to Mr. So and So.

Receptionist: One moment. I see him exiting the restroom.

(Whispering allows me to catch the words “call,”  “ten,” and “crazy”.)

And then a male voice…

“This is Mr. So and So. It appears you need to speak to me.”

And that’s how being a pain in the ass assertiveness saved the day.

So for anyone who thinks assertiveness only has one face, I’m here to clarify this isn’t true.

Sometimes it has an attitude, or a look, or a raised eyebrow, or the use of certain vocabulary.

Other times, assertiveness can have a “ta da!”  moment when a person is an outright nuisance.

Yes, people, and outright nuisance.

Because it’s all about making yourself heard while still respecting the rights of others.

And because no one said you can’t assert yourself by being a pain in the ass.

When was the last time you were assertive?.


28 thoughts on “What do you mean, he’s in the restroom?

  1. You go girl! I’m sure the receptionist started to be afraid when she heard you voice. *lol* Good for you.
    The last time I was assertive was today. My vendor shipped us something via UPS Ground instead of 2 day. I called and made them find my order. I asked them if they noted the huge line with the word NOTE all in capital letters. That should have been a clue to pay attention. I wouldn’t have ordered the stuff shipped faster if I didn’t need it.
    They are sending my product over night at their expense. I will get to refuse the one that will get here next week.

    1. Kudos, Bernie! I think it’s unacceptable to pay for faster service when in fact companies are going to send it whenever and however they feel like it. I’m glad your stuff is coming in overnight! :)

    1. Cathy, welcome! The tax man and this sort of problem is unacceptable! :) Tell me you’re being assertive about it! hee hee!

  2. I second what Danielle says, Bella. I want you on my team! So funny that the receptionist said the guy was in the restroom (for 10 mins). Waaaa?

    1. Jann, who stays in the bathroom for that long while at work? But I think this is something these receptionists are made to say when the person in charge doesn’t want to talk to clients. I’ll happily be on your team as well! :)

  3. Bella, you go on with your bad self girl! Your first beef being with the significant other who didn’t get the job done reminded me of a friend of mine, Rebecca. Their sky roof had been leaking for quite some time, and she’d begged and pleaded with him to get this problem taken care of, but to no avail. Finally, out of sheer frustration, she grabbed the shotgun and blew the sky roof to smithereens. That’s when he decided to “git-r-done.”

  4. Bella~

    I could so relate to this post today as I contemplated what might happen to me if I buried my significant other today in the back yard. I weighed my options, wondered what my chances would be to get a woman judged and all women jurors who would relate to my frustration.. All I asked (eighty-seven times) is for him to drop the garbage bill and netflicks DVD in the mail. Did he? No!

    As for the remainder of your story… too painful!

    Assertive? In this manner, not recently. Just creating a blog, and going through the process of figuring out how to find an agent, writing a book proposal, and becoming a self-marketer (which I hate) is taking up all of my assertiveness these days.


    1. Brenda, you had me howling with your contemplation! Men can be so clueless! It sounds like your plate is full, but in a good way! I’m certain that in spite of your lack of time, you still find time to be assertive…or plot! :)

  5. Bella,
    Do you ever wonder why everything must become such a struggle? In the bathroom doing a crossword puzzle most likely. I am not an assertive person, but I can kill you with kindness. I hope your roof troubles are on their way to being solved.

    1. Georgia, I too wonder why it seems that most of the time life seems to be one long uphill climb. The only thing that keeps me going is reflecting on the old adage of “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” However, in all sincerity, I think I’m strong enough. No need for any more tests of strength, eh? :) The roof troubles are still very much in existence but at least I was able to communicate with the person in charge of sending out the report of the status of our case. And that’s something! Thank you for your well wishes!

  6. Excellent post! I’m trying to become more assertive, but I tend to fear confrontation. I’ve gotten better at defending myself though :) Baby steps.

    1. Haley, so true…baby steps is a great indicator that you’re on your way to becoming or achieving whatever you want in life. Good for you! The Significant Other claims to hate confrontation and that’s why every day he gets less mission assignments! :)

  7. Bella – You’re totally my kind of lady…I can be really assertive too…..And J is equally good at it…So anyone who gets on our wrong side is big trouble. Debra and Brenda you had me grinning away with your comments!

    1. Corinne, you lucky lady, you! Having an assertive partner is like winning the lottery sometimes! The Significant Other hates confrontation and apparently, and according to him, this is what keeps him from being as assertive as I’d like him to be. Oh well. As long as there’s one of us, right? :)

  8. Bella, YOU. ARE. AMAZING. I can’t believe you actually did that! I’ve taken out my “what laura needs to learn” pad and took a bunch of notes. I really shouldn’t be ashamed or scared to ask for what I want!

  9. Heh, thanks for a fun post.

    I’m not all that assertive, but when necessary (meaning, when I really don’t have a chance of fixing it on my own), I use polite manners and my childish looks and look lost, and cute, and lost, and confused, and don’t give up, and things eventually get done.

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