from Fearless Puppy on American Road by Doug "Ten" Rose                                             Return to Chapter List

Defeating the Bait-and-Switch

You may be asking, “What is the old psychological bait-and-switch move?” I’ll tell you. It’s the oldest trick in the book. It is often done without the awareness of the perpetrator. More often than not the perps aren’t even in touch with themselves enough to realize they’re doing it. (Occasionally, it is a more malicious and intentional form of manipulation.)

Let’s say that you are Party B. A fellow staff member—or even your boss, or a co-worker who wants to climb the ladder of success over your dead body, your mother, teenage son, or whomever—is Party A. (If you are already saying, “Hey I’m the A. Let that other pain-in-the-butt be Party B,” then your chances of avoiding the pitfalls of the psychological bait-and-switch are very good!)

You are a nice, friendly, kind, and cooperative person. Party A is a nasty, sarcastic, wired-up type who loves to screw and manipulate people. Party A people are warped, frustrated, and believe that since they have no happiness or sense of self-worth, neither should anyone else. They love to pull your chain, wouldn’t climb off your back if you bought them a diamond-studded rope ladder to do it with, and they live to annoy.

As usual, you are trying to be nice to everyone. You speak to Party A as you would to anyone else—intent on a happy and harmonious relationship. But Party A doesn’t know how to handle this. The rip in the fabric of this person’s reality tells him or her that it’s an either-me-or-you, dog-eat-dog, take-advantage-before-being-taken-advantage-of world where being aggressively defensive is of paramount importance. These attitudes usually result in behavior that is nastier than a pickled egg fart collection in an airtight room. Day after day you try to be nice to this person in the hope that your goodness will prove contagious. Mr./Ms. A stays deaf to your most cordial approaches and continues to dump bucket loads of irritating drama into your life.

Sooner or later it happens. You lose it. After what seems like eons of dealing with this situation in a civilized manner, you just can’t take it any more. You give Party A a rebate on the ration of shit that he or she has been shoveling in your direction for so long. After a good ten minutes of yelling at each other, you stomp away with your blood pressure raised and your day ruined. You’re now as stressed out, aggravated, and miserable as A has always been. You’re soured and angry.

This is you now! The attack on your peace of mind is no longer singularly directed from an external, defensible source. It now has an internal base that’s a lot more dangerous to you. The nastiness of A, formerly a minor influence outside of your psyche, has now eaten away slowly but steadily at your patience and compassion until it has succeeded in boring a hole right through your previously harmonious state of mind. Your structural integrity has collapsed and is now being eaten by your newly acquired chemical imbalance, which is a direct result of your newly acquired psychological imbalance. Your stomach may hurt, your head may ache, and your happiness is in pain.

As this happens to folks like us, Party A people will be laughing their asses off! They may have had a conscious plan to do you in, but more likely they’re so out of touch with themselves that they don’t even know what they did. They’re happy anyway.

A subconscious mind can be a dangerous thing. That’s why so many of Earth’s most famous wise folk have spent so much of their time moving their subconscious depths to the conscious surface.

So now A is happy and B is ragged out. Anyone walking into a room where both A and B are present would be fooled. It would appear that Party A was a B and that Party B was an A—and in fact, until B regains composure and simple sanity, that indeed has become the truth of the situation! Every time A comes into the room, B gets nervous, aggravated, and apprehensive. Party A’s job of making B a lesser human is completed. B has now effectively taken over the job that A was doing. B is now busting his or her own chops and getting on his or her own nerves. Party A doesn’t even have to be around! B will still be nervously concerned with what A might do or say next.

Party A, thoroughly satisfied with the success of this process, is now more B-like in demeanor—relaxed and happy. Party B, on the other hand, is now suffering a self-engendered attitude attack as well as the real attacks on his or her peace of mind that Party A may still be generating. In addition, B has to deal with the degree of self-loathing and embarrassment caused by losing composure in public and embracing an inferior mind set.

The bait-and-switch is complete.

* * *

Maybe the rest of the staff will outsmart Beryl. Maybe they will snap back into happiness, realizing that what they want to be is more important than what any negative external influence wants them to be.

The only way to win this game is to not play.

Maybe this episode will soon dissolve, and the memory be treated as a bad dream that was somehow shared by the whole crew.

That would be nice.

I really don’t like the thought of waking up Kali and the hounds.

* * *

The problem fixed itself quickly. None of the endings I had dreamed up for this soap opera occurred.
Within two days of the major bickering and nonsense, Beryl decided “the vibe wasn’t right.” She packed up and drove off into the sunset.

She was correct. The vibe wasn’t right. It will improve now that she is gone.

I hope the poor girl develops a happier attitude in her next location.

* * *

It seems like a good time for me to head out too. This place is great, but there’s a whole lot more of the Southwest to be explored.

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