That Always Gets My Goat


The General and I don’t always see eye to eye. Part of the reason is that neither of us see as well as we once did. Sometimes the frustration associated with the lack of clarity or our inability to read and comprehend the fine print is the catalyst for conflict. Some of you are probably thinking I don’t have the sense to leave well enough alone. I mentioned “conflict” and as you know, my blog sometimes carries a very accurate and detailed description of life as I know it. The General, on the other hand, would refute my reflection by suggesting that I write historical fiction . Did I mention that “always gets my goat?”

In case you’re wondering what that means, don’t feel alone. I’m not sure I understand the origin of that expression either, but the expression comes to mind every time the General suggests I’m writing fiction rather than an autobiographical narrative.

Out of curiosity I looked up the expression “get my goat” and discovered there is no clear consensus of where or when the expression originated. One possibly flawed explanation is that goats were placed with race horses to keep them calm. When ne’er-do-wells wanting to alter the outcome of a race stole someone’s goat, it was unsettling to the horse and the horse didn’t run the race at their full potential.

“A man is only as good as his word” is one of the life lessons I was taught early on in childhood. Consequently, when I hear the General tell someone that my reflections of everyday life are flawed, I find it a little irritating.

For the most part my experience is always good, but on rare occasion the General has the capacity to ruffle my feathers. She would probably counter that, “I don’t adhere well to gentle redirection”. Perhaps she’s right, but sometimes the redirection is unwarranted and the accusations lofted my direction are closely akin to projection and imposing what she’s thinking or experiencing on my persona. At least, that is my take on the experience.

Yesterday is a prime example of what I’m talking about. I simply asked the General for her help. The next thing I know she was suggesting I needed to “have an adjustment in my attitude.” There was nothing wrong with my attitude!

(In writing this, I threw in the “!” mark to give her the benefit of the doubt. By now you’re probably thinking she was right). The problem was setting the clock in my vehicle. Despite my best efforts at re-setting the clock in both my work car and my truck to accurately reflect the time, I’ve come up short.

Consequently, I asked for the General’s help in resetting my clock when we stopped at the post office to get the mail yesterday. She took the manual out of the glove compartment and with an “air of anybody can do this” if they follow the written directions, I left her to work her magic while I went into the post office.

As it turned out she wasn’t any more successful than I had been. Getting back into the car, she read the manual to me while I attempted to follow the directions. The next thing I hear is that I needed to adjust my attitude. My attitude had absolutely no correlation to the incorrect time reflected on the clock in my vehicle. And no, it didn’t help for her to suggest it was really easy to set the time in her car.

Before we left the parking lot at the post office and headed to the grocery store, we attempted one more time to collectively work together to solve the problem. It proved to be another failed attempt. The clock and my attitude was still the topic of conversation (she was doing all of the talking & I was listening) when we got to the grocery store.

Actually, I wish I had recorded the conversation. I hate it when someone asks me to remember a telephone number. I repeat it over in my head until I’m asked for the number. I did the same thing yesterday with the General’s take on the problem. Long story short – I was the problem.

Stepping inside the grocery store, I took out my iPhone and wrote it down. I didn’t want to forget it. Fact or fiction, I had the conversation clearly recorded in my memory. Honestly, the General is really good when she wants to push my buttons. All I wanted was for her to push the correct button in my car and accurately set the clock.

The General was on a roll. Her voice was calm (she never loses control). However, her message was clearly authoritarian rather than authoritative. She should know by now that approach doesn’t work well with me. However, at that point, I’m not sure she cared whether it worked well with me or not. This is what she said: “You blunder through not thinking…” What did she mean by that? She then threw in the concept that “I was not listening.” Trust me, I heard every single word she shared! To add insult to injury, she alleged that, “I was just mashing buttons”.  As if that wasn’t enough, she added that “I had an attitude problem.”

I was only in the grocery store a few minutes. When I returned, the clock was still incorrect, but we both acknowledged we were getting hungry. Embarrassingly, a quick trip to “Chicken Express” apparently solved the problem with my attitude. Of course we were hungry! After all, it was an hour later than the time reflected in my car.

In the event, the General should counter that this is simply one more attempt to “make it up as I go along”, please let her know that you don’t think I’m creative enough to make this kind of stuff up. “It is nothing but the truth, so help me God.”

All My Best!







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