a Women Writers' Showcase

Self Improvement
by Margaret B. Davidson

I'm a wimp, everybody says so.

It's not that I haven't made an effort to be assertive; it's just that each attempt has met with failure, even embarrassment.  Last week's debacle is a fine example.

I'd lain in bed berating myself - tossing until the covers were in sweaty knots. I should've said no to Sopwith.  I should have told him I couldn't be at work at 6:30 for a project that "I was uniquely qualified to handle."  He was manipulating me because I was the only employee who never stood up to him.  Annie or Joe could handle the job equally well, perhaps better, but they would've refused.
I needed rest.  In desperation I downed two sleeping pills. 

I was awakened by a demanding screech.  Cursing, I grabbed the phone.  "Hello."

"Is this Ms. Hanson?"


"Ms. Hanson, this is Sleep-Tight Security calling to report there's been an electrical outage in your area and you'll need to reset your system."

I turned the green glow of the clock toward me and saw that it was just past three o'clock.  Were these people nuts?  I'd had enough.  I wasn't going to let them get away with it.  I was going to assert myself.  Like a crazy person I screamed into the phone,

"Do you people know what time it is?  It's three o'clock in the morning and you wake me out of a deep sleep to tell me there's been a power outage?  Are you mad...?"

"Ma'am... Ma'am..."


"Ma'am, it isn't three o'clock.  It's seven-thirty.  You'll need to reset your clocks as well."  The voice was bland.

Mortified, I stammered a feeble apology and hung up.  So much for "assertiveness."

Arriving at the office I found Sopwith pacing like a hyena that had missed its supper.

"You're two hours late!"

Instinct suggested I return to my normal "wimphood" and offer to stay late to atone for my transgression, but this time perversity got the better of me. This time I was unable to dismiss the surge of power I'd felt while screaming into the telephone.  I'd enjoyed it; I wanted more.  I needed that euphoria again.  So I let loose for the second time that day.

The expression on Sopwith's face was almost worth it.

So that's how come I'm now seated opposite Mrs. Levenworth of the "HelpforLess employment agency, and she's handing me a bunch of assertiveness training brochures and explaining that self-confidence is necessary to landing a job in today's market.

I figure it's hardly work explaining that assertiveness is what landed me in this pickle in the first place.

The End

Born and raised in England, Margaret B. Davidson now resides in upstate New York.  She has close to two hundred short stories published in small press print and online magazines, and is enjoying her new role as Humor Page Editor for The Writer's Hood ezine.  Margaret's husband provides moral support for her writing endeavors, while her cat helps with the typing. Contact Margaret.