Nancy Roman

Making Waves

You know those wave machines on cruise ships and amusement parks?  The ones that let you surf in a swimming pool?

pool surf


No?  Truthfully, me neither. I’m neither a cruise ship nor amusement park type of person. For the same reason:  Nausea.

(Our local amusement park went through a major renovation about thirty years ago. And when my sister brought her kids for the grand re-opening, she reminisced:  “See that ride? Your Aunt Nancy threw up on that ride. And see that ride?  Your Aunt Nancy threw up on that ride too.”)

But back to wave machines.

I need one.

I need to make some waves.

My husband is mad at me right now. He’s mad at me because I don’t get mad.

Oh, I get mad enough at HIM. He wants me to be mad at other people. And at bad situations.

And I don’t know how.

I was raised by an extremely non-boat-rocking lady. Mom and Dad had a very equal marriage – two really smart people making smart decisions together.

But for my Mom, that was as far as it went. She felt that in all other situations, you should just be nice. Accommodating, accepting, agreeable. She said we’d be happier in the long run if we *Don’t *Make* Waves*.

And I don’t.

Can’t park here? Okay.

An hour wait for dinner? Okay.

Additional shipping charge? Okay.

Bad haircut? Okay.  (Well, not okay really. I will go home and cry. But Okay… it will grow.)\

As I get older, I find that there are many things that are actually easy to let go. I’m not much bothered by lousy service in a restaurant or clothes that shrink in the dryer. Or the price of gas. Yeah, I remember, gas used to cost 33 cents a gallon.  But I also made $59 a week. Are the oil companies gouging us? Certainly. Am I going to go on a rant? Nah.

But there’s other stuff that is harder to ignore. And maybe I shouldn’t. Not much gets changed if you don’t show some righteous indignation.

There’s lots of shit going on in the world that I want to scream about. And sometimes do. I am a hippie from the sixties after all –  ‘Peace and Love’ accompanied by a big dose of  ‘Let’s March in the Streets’. But I decided two years ago that  this blog would not be political, so I will stick to what I need to get mad at in my personal life.

I’m a bit of a doormat – a big one according to my husband –  at work. Since my first job (making sandwiches for vending machines) – I have never said “no.”  Anything and everything. Lots of weekends, evenings, with any and all tasks. I ordered supplies as well as made sandwiches; I opened the mail as well as solved Medicare issues; I inventoried equipment as well as produced financial statements; I prepared slides for the CEO’s speeches as well as calculated return on investments.

My current job is no different. Luckily, I am not asked for much overtime anymore. I work some weekends but compared to previous jobs, I’m a part-timer. But I still never say no. And holy cow, it doesn’t take long for everyone to know that. I may have the title of Controller, but people come to me when they need mailing labels, or the copier is broken, or the bathroom sink is stopped up. My favorite request was from a lady in shipping who came into my office and handed me her electric bill. “Can you mail this for me?” she asked.  Okay.

But I truly believe that you’re not a doormat if you really don’t mind.


There’s a nagging part of me that is getting bugged. And there are some tasks not in my job description that are absolutely beginning to get under my skin. And one especially is escalating.

So here’s my dilemma:

I have about a year to my retirement.

Part of me wants to just get through the next year. Continue to say “Okay” – keep my head down, and let the year go by. No Trauma. No Confrontations.  I’ve worked that way for more than forty years. And I’m still here. So it’s a good strategy.

But another part of me though wants to say, “Hell NO!”  I want my last year to be one of respect. I’m the Controller, not a servant.

So what do I do?  Do I go out like a lamb or a lion?

Me, trying out (not too successfully) a power pose.

Me, trying out (not too successfully) a power pose.





  1. i like


  2. Bonnie

    Ugh, why is everyone retiring?


    • Because I’ve had enough of working for someone else.


      • Let me rephrase that: My crap capacity is just about full.


  3. Oh, I would definitely say something… but not when I’m in a “Hell NO” frame of mind. Best to confront when emotions aren’t close to the surface. Love the power pose!


    • You have a good point. I think I will try to find a diplomatic way to stand up for myself on the important things. That might restore my self-respect. But I’ll let the trivial stuff go.


  4. Ray G

    Other people tend to like the lambs of the world. If that’s what you might prefer to be, then you’ll be happier. And be remembered as a nice person. Retirement is nice. Very nice.


  5. I can’t help much since I’m in the opposite situation. I have always been, shall we say, “forthright” with my opinions. Now I am 6 months from retirement and I am trying to end my career on a “nice” note! But it’s hard to change my stripes and I frankly don’t care much any more.


    • I have trouble being assertive. I am not sure how I ever got to be a manager.


      • Well, I haven’t been allowed to be a manager! Good thing!


  6. Totally depends of how much it’d sticking in your craw. You’ve worked a long time. You’ve risen to Controller. Shouldn’t be mailing people’s letters, or doing their bidding otherwise. It’s one thing to be nice. It’s quite another to be trampled because you are.


    • I didn’t really mind dropping the letter in the office post. It’s the big stuff that’s beginning to bother me. But I might be better off seeing it as small stuff….


  7. Can’t say anything on this one, were it me I would stand up but that is me. Love the pose.


    • I’d love to retire knowing that I have finally stood up for myself. But on the other hand, I hate making waves.


  8. I’ve gone the other way – as I get older (and became a parent) I’m picking my battles. Before I waded in to everything all guns blazing. Exhausting…


    • I like the waters calm. But part of me would like to stir them up a little before it is too late.


  9. I’ve never been uncomfortable confronting at work – everywhere else, I’m a go-along to get-along person. I really ask myself if something is going to bother me 5 years from now. If the answer is yes – then I go all in. If not – no need to elevate my blood pressure.


    • That’s a good rule of thumb. Mostly I don’t mind at all. I can throw a letter in the mailbox. The issue I’m deciding whether to confront or not is doing extra work that is not part of my job – and then having that work be criticized.


  10. Susan

    Goodness, you can tell we were brought up by a brother (your Dad) and a sister (my Mom), with your Mom thrown in. It’s in the genes, we can’t help ourselves. I see myself in every word you wrote. Sometimes I hate myself for it, but most times I just go with the flow……


    • It drives my husband nuts that I am so non-confrontational with everyone but him.


      • Susan

        I’m the same way, I guess you only yell at those you love.


  11. If it were me (and I speak from experience), I would keep holding it in until that becomes impossible, then walk out in a huff just days before the benefits (or bonus or whatever) kick in, giving me one moment of “Yay, it feels good to stand up for myself!” and a lifetime of poverty. Whatever you decide, don’t do that.


  12. Love your power pose! If your nature is to say yes, I would guess that you are asked to do these things, not because you are a doormat, but because you are perceived by your co-workers as easy going & they know that if you ask, you are likely to say yes. Some would call it being a team player. To suddenly change the essence of who you are just to prove a point sounds like an invitation for stress. If you decide that enough is enough, it doesn’t have to be communicated in a negative way or with guns a blazing. You can simply reply, “no, I’m sorry, I can’t but I am sure if you asked so & so, they would be able to assist you. At the end of the day, you just have to be comfortable in your own skin.


    • Wise words. I think my peace-keeping mindset is part of who I am, and maybe I should be happy with that part of me.


  13. Trails and Ultras

    If you don’t feel like you’re being a doormat and you genuinely don’t mind doing these things then I would carry on as you are. I get told I’m too nice all the time-people must think I’m repressed and secretly full of resentment, but in fact I feel cheerful and content most of the time. I don’t feel put out by working harder or longer. If I did I wouldn’t do it 🙂


    • I see the truth of that. Most of the time I don’t mind at all. It is even satisfying to feel cooperative and helpful. My big issue is doing work that is clearly not my job, and then being criticized that the work is not good enough. If I do someone a favor, I want a thank you – not a scolding.


  14. June

    I can so relate to this!! I’ve been retired for almost 20 years. And for 10 of those years I was totally ticked off because the month before I was retiring, I had to do something I absolutely hated doing. My daughter finally told me (when she was tired of hearing my ranting) why are you still bitching about something that happened so long ago. For heaven’s sake, let it go!!!
    You’ll absolutely love retirement.


    • My father once gave me mother some similar advice. She had a work issue and was complaining about it every night. He finally told her that if this problem really bothered her, she should do something about it. If she doesn’t want to address it, then maybe it wasn’t really that bad a problem. She thought about it. And stopped complaining. I think back on it, and I don’t know whether she stopped complaining because she addressed the issue, or because she decided it wasn’t so bad. Either way, she was in a better place, wasn’t she?


  15. Perhaps a bit of a compromise would work. You don’t have to say “no” or “yes” for that matter. You will be gone in a year. They must know that. They will have to find a new “doormat” or figure out stuff for themselves. So how about something like…,
    “You know, *Dimwit* (insert name here), I’m not always going to be here to do this for you. I will be happy to show you how to take care of this so when I’m gone you can handle it on your own”.
    What? It could work.


    • This response has the potential of working. They will think you really care about them while you are dodging their request. However, as others have said, pick the ones that bother you most. If it’s not appropriate to push the work back to the person (like they are your boss) maybe it’s time for the “we should be training someone to do this” talk.


    • Very true! Pretty soon this person will need to find another servant. I’d better advise that person to start looking!


  16. It something bothers you, maybe you should let loose, but in an organized, well-thought out way. If you start start with small things now and continue for a year, people will remember you. “Boy, has that Nancy every changed. It’s a good thing she’s retiring.”
    Be true to yourself and plan a kick-ass retirement. ~(*_*)~~


    • That sounds like fun. But I probably couldn’t do it. I want people to like me to much. I want someone to cry when I leave 😉


  17. Great power pose! 🙂 I think you should go for it, but in a way that feels comfortable for you… though it probably won’t feel comfortable the first time! You’ll probably feel awful the first time you try it, but under the ‘awful’ will be some well-deserved satisfaction.

    I like to get along with everybody, too, but I don’t mind saying no as long as I can say it in a way that doesn’t upset people. Little things like mailing letters wouldn’t bother me if I was going by a post box anyway, but things that take up my personal time or sap my energy are where I say ‘no’.

    My best response is, “Gee, I wish I could help you with that, but I’m just too booked up right now. Maybe (insert name here) can help you.” If you’re at work, you may need to justify that with a list of your current projects, but in personal life no further explanation is required. The people who truly care about you will understand, and the people who get upset aren’t worth your emotional energy.

    I know, I know. Easier said than done… but it’ll get easier with practice. Congratulations on being on the home stretch!


    • I certainly can demonstrate that I have enough to do! Just not the nerve to say it.


  18. Christine G.

    Not surprisingly (since I am your sister), I was pretty much a doormat too. But as I approached retirement, I was training someone to replace me.(Since I am also remembering your blog on giving yourself compliments, I should also note that I was hard to replace; they needed two people to do it.) Anyway, as people came at me with various oddball requests, it got really easy to say ” you should go to *** with that. She will be replacing me and she should learn how to do it.” So then she could decide if she was going to be a doormat too.


    • It will be nice to pass the doormat torch. (And I’m surprised they only needed two people to replace you. I figured four at least.)


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