Fighting Passive Aggression With Belated Active Agression

Remember when I told you that I failed at humaning? Though I don’t generally make resolutions I would like to resolve to call out more crappy behavior to people’s faces even if it makes me uncomfortable (I really hate discomfort too. “Death before discomfort” is on my family crest…which, embarrassingly, has the same symbol as the logo for Whitesboro, New York).


The catalyst for this resolution was what happened on Christmas Eve, when I dared to endure air travel. Flying in general is a well of anxiety for anyone not a sociopath, let alone Christmas Eve where everyone is panicked about seeing their family. Throw in the added stress that the plane waiting at the gate had mechanical issues with the mechanic visibly working on one of the engines. We don’t know if our plane is going to take off and people are lining up to talk to the frazzled gate agent who obviously hasn’t logged enough hours to not be working Christmas Eve. Scene set? Am I getting across the level of stress everyone is feeling?

Now, here’s what I witnessed, just the facts: While waiting in line, a pregnant woman carrying two bags was ambling up to where her husband was standing. The pregnant woman asked a standing woman, “excuse me,” so that she could get past her to join her husband in line. That standing woman did not even acknowledge the pregnant lady and there is no chance that the standing woman did not hear because the pregnant lady said, “excuse me” directly into the standing woman’s ear. The pregnant woman, upon reaching her husband adjusted her bags and bumped the previous standing woman, not hard enough to move the standing woman an inch.

The standing woman says, “Oh, don’t worry, you have plenty of room.”

Pregnant woman, still trying to adjust her presumably heavy bags responds, “What?” The question we were all wondering (oops, that’s commentary).

Standing lady smugly responds, as though there is no question she is in the right, “You have plenty of of room over there, you don’t need to bump me.”

The pregnant woman, responds, “I didn’t notice I hit you, sorry.” Then goes back to what she was doing.


IMPARTIALITY OVER: The standing woman smugly adjusts her collar and goes back to daring to think she’s in the right for having won the award for being the most supremely passive aggressive person in the universe to a pregnant woman who tried being polite while this vile garbage person–sorry, “garbage” implies that she once served a purpose–this hobo-vomit masquerading as a human being was afforded the luxury of thinking she was somehow in the right and won that discussion.

That’s where I failed at humaning. I stayed silent. Granted, I was in an airport where ineffectual people delight in their ability to abuse power, but I think I could have out-passive-aggressived her. All I would have had to do was ask, “What do you hope to accomplish being hostile with a smile?” That’s all I had to do.

For extra credit, I could (and should) have matched her hostility: “Who farted on your scrambled eggs? By that, I mean, what do you think gives you the special privilege to ignore a polite request then act like everyone’s Baby Boomer Aunt who thinks she’s the one who’s keeping the family together single-handedly by being hyper-smugly contentious to a pregnant woman who’s having a hard enough time negotiating the world with her rapidly changing dimensions as a result of incubating a human life? Are you proud of yourself or are you going to take a half-second to be aware of the world around you before lashing out impotently at those who tried to be courteous to immovable narcissists lost in their own feedback loop?”

This is why I’ve made a resolution to be more of a jerk to people who act like minor jerks because I have that ability. If I don’t use my mutant power to shame jerks by being a bigger jerk, wouldn’t I be the bigger jerk?


Add yours →

  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself, Pickleope. I’ve found, from experience, that there’s very little you can gain from arguing with most of the a-hole, jerks of the world. They generally are too confident in their sense of smug, self-righteousness to take other peoples’ opinions about them to heart. Besides, there’s a good chance, had you out-jerked her, she would have played the wounded victim card & played it up until she made you look like the bad guy to everyone else.


  2. Not your circus, not your monkeys, Pickleope. Save your mutant aggression skills for when someone is a passive-aggressive jerk to you personally.


  3. I’m with Debra to hold your comments until you are personally affronted. The kind of person you described would only become more vile if someone put her on the spot. There is no dealing with that person, for sure. My granddaughters waited too long to get to the airport in San Antonio to fly back home, even though Grandma had said,”You’d better get there a little early, as people are all flying home and TSA is pretty thorough.” Sometimes what we say doesn’t make a difference. Put on your happy face, and have a fabulous hump-day, my friend.


  4. If you had said something, you might have escalated the situation. It was better to stay out of it. The pregnant woman’s husband should have helped her. He’s the ass who didn’t step up to take responsibility. Don’t fly on Christmas Eve ever again, and if you must fly, then get your frequent flyer points together and go first class. It’s so much better.



    • That presumes a number of things. Flying on Christmas Eve saved me over $300. What you’re suggesting is that I am not perhaps the “ass”, that frequent flyer points are so readily available and easily accumulated that you can upgrade on a flight anywhere near the holidays (I have frequent flyer points with all the airlines, and on a credit card and they don’t add up enough to get me a free soda let alone an upgrade. You have to fly twice monthly to get enough frequent flyer points to upgrade to the exit row, plus an extra two grand to fly first class around the holidays.), and that I am so influential/wealthy that I can not only get first class on one flight but also a connecting flight. Great advice, if I’m part of the one percent.


  5. Yeah, it’s tough to get involved in minor things like that, bc you dont want to escalate the situation too much and bring any more embarrassment/attention to the victim, depending on the case. I tend to just act really passive aggressively back. Like if I’m behind someone who is being a jerk to the grocery checkout person, I’ll make eye contact with the checkout person and roll my eyes towards the customer like “yo, this bitch is crazy, right?” I’ve also been known to mouth “what the f#$*&” pretty well.


  6. What… flying in general is a well of anxiety for anyone not a sociopath? Why, thank you for the compliment. I’ve been saying this for decades but my relatives think I’m nuts. Isn’t that ironic? I’m obviously taking your word for it, so maybe I shouldn’t be too harsh on Uncle Bob just yet.

    “Who farted on your scrambled eggs?” would’ve been a nice touch. Very PC. But I may be biased since scrambled eggs make me want to eat backwards. Thanks for the wonderful comment too. I knew I could count on… you. Hey, I’m a poet.


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