Diane decided to dress down to teach Anger Management. That only took her an hour to do, as opposed to the usual two. She couldn't decide which six-inch heels to wear, but knew she'd find the right pair somewhere in her closet. She finally chose the plain black with the tiniest bow on them. Diane liked to be taller than she actually was, no matter where she went. Her short stature was a big flaw in her mind, and she still blamed her mother for it, anger management or not.
Diane's new charity was at a gathering place for the homeless and otherwise disenfranchised citizens.
She arrived early and, after using Fibreeze, drew a large chart on a blackboard about how to control anger.
She used a cognitive therapy approach and loved the results she'd gotten in her own life.
She made five columns on the blackboard and put papers out for her new students.
The five columns had names, as did the whole thing. It was called a Thought Record.
The columns were titled: Event, Rate Thoughts, Hot Thought, Alternate Thoughts, Outcome.
Each column had subcategories as well, like: Where, when and who was present at the event? What percent between zero and one-hundred tops were you angry at the event? Outcome showed a percent of how angry the person was when finished.
Diane wore tight jeans, a loose blouse and sky-high red heels the day she quit that work.
She was nearly used to seeing people who were angry--but it didn't prepare her for that day.
Eight people were her students. One of them never said a word, though the rest were responsive.
This time, Diane decided to ask the silent one why he attended Anger Management classes at all if he never talked.
It was a mistake.
The man, Jack, had plenty to say when she asked him to fill out the Thought Record.
Jack said, "I'm too angry t'do that. Why're you makin me do it?"
She spoke softly when she said, "Try a few columns, Jack. All of us can help you."
At his best, Jack looked like he'd been hit by a truck. His hair was a long, matted mess, and his face was pocked and bruised like a photo from a distant planet. His small eyes were angry, shot with red. His mouth was a thin line that separated a long nose from a jutting chin. Diane was determined to change Jack's demeanor. Perhaps she could even reach his spirit.
"I'm only takin this class 'cause the judge said I hadda," Jack said. "I'm learnin already just watchin you."
Diane said, "Then it should be easy to fill in a few columns. I'll write down what you say. We're all on your side, Jack."
"Okay." Jack sighed. "Th' event was a bar fight. Over at Club Forty-Four. Happened about a month ago. I gotta wallet, see it here? It's chained t'my belt. Somebody tried to rip me off. It happens in some way every damn day, an' I fought with 'em then, alright? An' a damn fool called the fuzz. Who in a bar calls cops?! A first class jerk is who!"
Diane still felt calm and in control.
"How many people were there at the time?" she asked.
"I dunno." Jack looked away.
"What did you think while this was happening, Jack? That's the second column."
"I thought some damn so-and-so was a damn sneaky bastard. I wanted to kill ever'one there. Ain't no one gonna pick on Jack no more. I'm tired, lady, jus' tired, and I ain't one to call on here. What I think don' belong on some blackboard."
One of the students, Caroline, said, "If I can do that about my husband, you can do it about people you didn't even know."
"You're a sissy is what I think!" Jack said, his voice rising.
Diane fought to keep the situation calm.
"Jack, tell us one thought you remember from that event, please. That'll be your hot thought."
"I already tole you," he said, almost laughing. It was a snigger. "I wanted a kill ever'body there. An' I picked up a bar stool an' got a pretty good start on it, too. Got that newbie right across the back of his damn blockhead. That was jus' a start."
Diane felt herself blush.
She was upset now. She stared at Jack with dislike. No. She couldn't dislike anyone there.
She took a deep breath and said, "How would you rate that feeling on a scale of one to one-hundred percent?"
The entire class stared back and forth at Diane and Jack as if watching tennis.
Jack hated Diane and it radiated outward, a ball of fire that came close to igniting everyone.
"A hundred percent, lady, an' that's all you get from me on that. Y'think I'm talkin about some wife or somethin? Like I don' have a life outside this room? I gotta get angry an' stay angry just t'get somethin t'eat! I dive in dumpsters, you moron yuppie! I live in a friggin alley on a piece a cardboard! I'm a hundred percent angry at ever'body! A hundred percent! What's your gawddamn class gotta' say to that!?"
Teddy, who really looked like a teddy bear, said, "I feel one-hundred percent angry too, Diane. I'm trained to be a pharmacist and I live in my car. I'm lucky my church gives me food and lucky I get to park my car...which I'm lucky to have at all...in a garage my brother-in-law lets me use like it was a house. And it isn't! He's like zero percent on the good side. He only lets me use that garage because my sister makes him, and that's only because she can't stand the thought of me relieving myself in public! They're zeros! I'm one-hundred percent angry!"
Diane stood helpless before a barrage of eight voices raised in one-hundred percent anger.
"I'm one-hundred percent angry, too!"
"I'm just as angry!"
"I'm angry! I'm really very angry!"
Diane finally screamed, "Shut up, shut up, shut up!" and left the room, the building, and that particular work.
It was hard to stomp in her heels, but she did. She decided charity just wasn't in her.
Whenever 'talking heads' on the news spoke about the ninety-nine percent against Wall Street bankers, Diane thought of Jack, Teddy and the rest, and knew she was in a very precarious and tiny one-percent, which really pissed her off.