Anger management

Last week I went to confession and told the priest that I had been swearing, along with other things I’d better not mention here. And when I finished my laundry list of sins, he asked, “Are you an angry man?”

I paused and thought about it, and even though I flip out once or twice or 20 times a day, I don’t consider myself “an angry man” … except when someone tailgates me or lets the door slam in my face or takes my parking space, especially at Christmastime, or is standing in my way text-messaging while I’m racing for the train.

“No, Father,” I replied. “Why do you ask?”

“This swearing,” he said.

“!*%@*#[email protected]# That’s nothing,” I wanted to say, but I was in church.

Instead, I told him I was trying to control it and making progress and that, heck, he should give me a little positive reinforcement instead of a lecture on anger management. At that point, he suggested therapy.

“@#%#!**! Are you crazy?” I was about to say, but bit my tongue because I didn’t want to act like an angry man.

He got me wondering, “Am I an angry man?” Sure I swear, but doesn’t everybody once in a while? And I really, truly am trying to control it, which means to say I don’t swear as much as I used to, and I don’t swear as much as a lot of people I know. And just to set the celestial record straight, I absolutely never swear in church.

Generally, I have a good reason for swearing, even though every so often I swear in front of someone who seems stunned to hear those words coming out of my mouth, which makes me turn red and feel like a real loser.

Nothing is more disturbing than listening to kids swear, and many do, which leads me to think they learn it from their parents. My kids rarely heard me swear, except when I caught them swearing.

“*%#$%*@!! I never want to hear you say *%#$%*@!! again! Where did you learn those words??? In school? From your mother?”

There’s certainly too much swearing in society, and I’m going to start a crusade to control it. Bribery might work. Prison won’t. Electric shock treatments may be the solution.

There are good economic reasons not to swear. It can be a “career ender,” according to a recent study that showed 57% of employers weren’t likely to promote someone who swore in the office. (That means never swear at the boss and only swear under your breath.) They also said it showed a lack of “professionalism,” whatever that means.

Half of those surveyed confessed to swearing at work. Employees in the age range of 35 to 44 cursed the most and those 18 to 24 the least. And I suspect that employees 45 to 65 didn’t curse at all on the job because they had been laid off.

The survey by CareerBuilder said swearing indicated a lack of control and maturity, which may be true, although my grandmother lived into her 80s and was very mature for her age, but that didn’t stop her from muttering a mouthful of classic Italian curse words.

Anyway, as a penance, I’m renewing my vow to stop swearing — once I cure my *!*#%*@!!# anger problem.


Joe Pisani may be reached at Joefpisani

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