NB: There is a pun in the title of this post for those brave enough to find it. It is a little more crass than my typical word play, but so appropriate.
It is true that I cannot be described as an assertive person. In fact, I think my personality can be perfectly captured by the fact that I was walking down a path the other day, reading a manuscript, when I accidentally bumped into a tree. Thinking it was a person, I said rapidly, “Oh my, excuse me, I beg your pardon.”
Then I looked up and, blinking in surprise, I pushed my glasses back up on the bridge of my nose and said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I thought you were a person.”
Then I blushed, looked around, patted the tree, and kept on walking.
But the best example of my lack of assertiveness comes from a time when I was traveling. My flight was delayed seven hours on the tarmac, so by the time I landed in my destination city, my ride had already left. It was the middle of the night, so I had to take a shuttle.
As I was boarding the shuttle, very tired from a long day of frustrating travel, there was a large and vociferous woman shouting on a cell phone and directing the poor driver to load some thirty bags of luggage. I took one of the seats near the front; there were few remaining because of the luggage.
Then I leaned against the window and closed my eyes. Within a few minutes, the woman, still on her cell phone, climbed onto the bus, and sat on me.
Which is to say, she sat half on the seat beside me and half on top of me. I tried to speak up and say something, but she was still on her phone and I didn’t want to interrupt her call. I bit my lip, murmured a faint protest, and she didn’t notice.
I cleared my throat once, and said, “Um, excuse me.” But she didn’t notice.
It wasn’t that uncomfortable, actually. She was pretty soft (being very large) and warm. And I was so very very tired.
Ultimately, I gave up and leaned against the window and closed my eyes.
When I tell this story, my friends sigh and shake their heads, and say, “Oh, standingoutinmyfield, you definitely need to be more assertive.”