On Losing My Temper…Really Scary

Posted: May 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

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Yesterday, my wife and I were leaving the Helmsley Park Lane hotel.

I had judged a boxing match the night before in Madison Square Garden and I got in late. i didn’t get much sleep but was excited about Sunday because we were going to the Hell’s Kitchen Food Festival and then to the Broadway show about Elvis, called the Million Dollar Quartet.

Then we got stuck in an elevator with five other people. A small elevator. One woman was 83 years old and another woman, probably barely 30, really struggled with claustrophobia. I was the only guy.

At first the hotel didn’t quite have a sense of urgency (at least in their voices) when they spoke to us through the speaker. I became the spokesperson and adopted that calm but assertively angry tone when i talked to the hotel personnel.

I was kind of proud to be honest because I felt a change in their attitude when I bassed up my voice and told them that I was unhappy with their level of energy around the issue. After a little while they began to fawn over us as I mentioned our level of displeasure with the situation.

Did I mention our room was $340 and every three steps i took in the place I had to tip someone?

We got out after 45 minutes and the hotel apologized profusely. i mentioned that my car was now over 24 hours in the parking lot at $51 a day and I didn’t want to be charged for a second day because of the elevator mishap. A nice gentleman in a suit walked me to the parking garage and promptly too care of the matter and paid the $51 for the previous day.


I felt good, like I didn’t over react or make a situation worse.

Then the parking guy pulled my car around. The driver seat was broken in the extreme forward position. I’m over six feet tall. The parking guy didn’t care. He shrugged and walked away.

I lost it.


This machine being an elevator...

Loud F-bombs.


Yeah, growls.

More F-bombs.

The gentleman who walked me out to the lot was now with another man. They both had walky-talkies. It dawned on me that they were security and they were looking at me. They didn’t say anything but they stayed close.

I walked to 57th St.

More F-bombs.

More growls.

The parking lot guy made himself scarce.

I tugged on the seat. My wife played with the electric button. I tugged. I started and restarted the car. Eventually the seat moved.

My neck hurt from yelling. My head pounded with my pulse.

My wife was frightened. I had a tough time settling down.

What happened? Was it fatigue? Was it the elevator? Was it that the car in the shop four times in the last 2 weeks before this trip? Was it the little parking lot guy who acted indifferent?

Was it something else?

Was it the sense that the hotel owed me? That I could be indignant? Was I getting off, just a little bit, on scaring people with my anger?

I have to admit getting that angry brings with it a bit of a rush. People scatter. People look worried. Something was running through my veins.

I’m not happy with myself. I hate scaring my wife. I still feel the effects of it this morning. I’m a bit ashamed.

Honestly though, there’s small part of me that kind of got off a bit on it. Not a lot. But it’s there. I’m not comfortable with that feeling. I don’t completely understand it but I can see why some people get angry often. There is sense of power that comes with it.

I don’t get it. I didn’t like it.

Actually, I didn’t like all of it.

  1. ginny says:

    My Inner Sicilian does not emerge very often. When it does – WATCH OUT. Usually abuse of a child or animal has precipitated it – sometimes road rage. It kinda scares me cuz it is so violent. But at the same time it makes me realize how I might lift a car off a person crushed underneath or rescue an animal from a body of water or a burning building. It is visceral and affects my heart rate and bloodpressure and vision. Way scary.

    I guess if you and I were not so nice, Tom, and blew a fuse almost daily like the Colonel does, then we would be less violent when we do blow!

  2. michael rivest says:

    Tom – I suspect your reaction and your sentiments are not unusual. You’re probably just more honest and self-aware, not to mention more reflective than most folks.

    I had a similar experience on my trip to Little Rock recently. I had resolved to deal with airline foolishness by simply “walking with it.” Good thing, too, because it was the trip from hell – both ways. I never lost patience with anyone and was quite proud of myself. I actually saw the humor in it.

    Until the end… After having missed every connecting flight – sometimes for the most pointless airline screw-ups, I was about to make my last connection in Philly that would get me to Albany. We were lined up at the door of the plane, waiting to get out for nearly an hour.

    I tired of the pilot coming on in his contrived, everything-is-right-with-the-world “pilot voice” I’d been hearing for nearly 48 hours. When I finally said, calmly but LOUDLY. “I have a connecting flight and I’m happy you and the crew are able to hide airline incompetence behind your disengenuous aura of calm. Now just open the f-ing door and let me out.”

    Of course, the flight attendants shifted into the “We have an unruly passenger on board” mode. I didn’t feel embarrassed, but it struck me as interesting that post-9/11 changes are also being engaged to paper over their fucking (oh, my, I said it without the hyphen) disregard.

    I still love you, Tom. Let’s travel together some time and beat the shit of people.

  3. Kymm says:

    Continuing effect from the daily shit sandwich?

    Drip drip drip …oh hell yeah this is good ….splash!

    • Karen Syed says:

      Well, I can feel your pain. I am trying very hard to keep my cool right now.

      **Warning**Huge hissy fit and whining session to follow, but Tom made me do it…

      I just got home from having to drive in an hour’s worth of traffic (each way) to Baltimore
      to do something for someone (doing it at the last minute because said someone put it off until I had a hissy fit). I had been gone since 8 am this morning, which meant I have been up since 6:30 am.

      Lost my frigging car in the parking garage…yes, folks, I lost my car. When I got there elevator was out of service so I had to walk down five flights of stairs…can you say heart condition??? So when I was walking down I must have looked at wrong sign. Found missing car two levels away.

      So, as we are coming home, said person informs me that we should go do something cause I don’t spend enough time with her. Um…sorry, but the 5 hours I just spent FOR her are the same as WITH her. No one seems to remember that I have a job. 🙂

      So I get home to find that the software I ordered on the 10th from a town 45 minutes away from me and was shipped Priority is still not here. I asked to go pick it up the day before they shipped and they ignored my questions.

      So this $200 software is the ONE thing standing between me and the printing of four books that need to be printed, shipped, and received by June 7th.

      So then I set up the laptop and plug in the mouse and nothing. Zip. NADA!Piece of…

      So as I consider your post, I do not feel any sense of power, I actually feel very put upon, and abused, and small…and I don’t get it. And I don’t like it!!!

      And my silly husband just said to me, “Maybe you should try a little patience, honey.”


      Oh hey, I forgot to hit submit and in that time I was just notified that we got rooked for our placement at the biggest event we do all year. Oh goody…half as much space for twice as many authors. I should be popular in a few minutes.

  4. I have been there to that point you speak of and it is a paradox of emotions, a double-edge sword to get that worked up and adrenalin rushed; once when in highschool at a school where I could not play baseball due to having just moved from Chicago to a small town. I acted at coach’s assitant, worked out on the field with the guys, batting practice, etc. Anyhow when our team played a neighboring school and kids got on the bus and gave us the finger, I grabbed a bat and rushed up the bus steps prepared fully to whack some assholes, but my cousin and teamates dragged me back and held me down. It just took that creep giving me the finger through the glass but it was the whole of it, being ruled ineligible to play. Sitting on the bench knowing I was a better ballplayer than any of them on either damn team.
    Stubborn as hell, I told them after that that I would never play for this school’s team, ever. And I didn’t.
    The other time I totally lost it was even worse. It was April 15th and I was an adult this time living in Chicago. Just parked my car in the Burger King parking lot next door to the post office as the PO near home had NO parking lot! At all. I was paying my bloody taxes. I come out not five minutes and my car is GONE. Towed. Look across the street and the infamous Northiside Wrigley Field area tow trucks are lying in wait for the next sucker to park at BK and walk off. When I got to the ticket window a mile away, thanks to my brother’s having come get me, and I began arguing with the guy behind the glass and bars through a tiny hole, I totally LOST it. Guy was twice my size and likely could have broken my neck but I called him and his operation every name in the book – sparing NONE. I challenged him to come out from behind the locked glass and bars. I was livid. My brother – yeah – he had never seen me ever lose it like that, and he kept telling me to shut up and just pay the bounty or ransom rather. When they took my car, it was like the last straw and it was damn personal.

    Oh yeah, there was that third time with that cop who ticketed me for speeding.

    Rob – generally a man of peace and happiness, espeically nowadays since the advent of The Kindle ebook which is keeping me smiling and out of trouble.

  5. What a frustrating weekend! Next time stay at the New Yorker across from the Garden. They’re cheaper, newer, (though anything is possible re: elevators) and you’ll love the tiny, tiny rooms 🙂

    These situations are why I run. I burn off the anger that can erupt when living in the city gets to me.

  6. Kymm St says:

    There is only one time I have ever really blown my fuse. Many times when I have come close – only once where I have had adrenalin flowing through me to such an extent that I have had a mixture of feelings between, ‘WOW!’ and ‘What the hell was that?!?’

    To try and not make a short story seem very long – my 2nd husband was a pig! He beat me daily – would make me stay awake for weeks at a time – putting an alarm on to wake himself every hour so he could check if I had done what he told me to (chores etc) then beat me some more because he was tired……you get the idea!
    His last beating of me also entailed him thrusting a screwdriver into the back of my knee to pin me to the floor.

    The neighbours heard my screams and called the police.
    On recovering he tried to beat me again .
    I have no idea where the strength came from – I was literally superhuman – I grabbed this man – who was at least 150lbs heavier than me and 7” taller – pinned him against the wall – clearing the floor by a few inches – pinned a knife to his throat and told him if he ever came near me again – I would kill him! (There were a few F words thrown in there!) He ran out the house scared – calling me crazy – and after getting an injunction served so I could have time to move – I did press charges.

    The adrenalin rush was amazing – I remember literally panting afterwards and a couple of weeks later realising how close I had come to killing someone. I distinctly remember the feeling of my heart thundering, a mixture of exhilaration and on grabbing him by the throat the ‘whooaaaahhhhh this is cool’ feeling. When he ran out I was angry with myself that I had done that in front of my 2 children – who were extremely young and cannot remember any of it.
    I was angry not because I had done it – but at the loss of control causing me to question myself. Looking back on it over 16 years later – I can still remember the ‘whooooaaaahhhhh’ feeling more than the being angry feeling! Adrenalin has a lot to answer for!

  7. Vinmeister says:

    Wow, I’m glad I wasn’t in that elevator. I would have been among the screaming women; I’m terrified of getting trapped in an elevator. Anything less than ten floors and I’m walking. If it’s a sketchy place, I’m walking regardless.

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