• StevenF

When You're Not Having An Omega Night

Updated: Jan 3

So for those of you who don't know, I work at an attraction in Las Vegas called Omega Mart. It's kind of hard to explain what it is, but it starts off as a weird grocery store with all these portals that lead to another world, and it kind of becomes this real-life Choose Your Own Adventure (remember those books?)

My job entails working with the public, and most nights I enjoy it, but there can be a small faction of the public that—how can I say this kindly?—is challenging to deal with. Last night was one of those nights. Several in our Vegas New Year's Day crowd were being obnoxious and difficult.

While not enjoyable, I'm glad it happened so I can talk about it here. In my blog, I'm trying to promote how to maintain a positive attitude and how to change one's mindset to deal with life more constructively. But I am not always great at doing this myself, although I am trying to do so.

So what does one do when confronted with people who are less than kind? How can one not allow those people's behavior negatively? Is it possible?

I believe it is. It is often not easy; sometimes it feels impossible, but I believe no one can make us feel a certain way; we choose to react to however they treat us. Last night, I was not as successful at choosing my reaction. I had two sets of guests in particular who were difficult to deal with, one of whom we had to call security on. My reaction to that particular guest's behavior caused me to have to step off the floor to decompress and collect myself.

Let me tell you what happened with the second guest. We have slides at Omega Mart, but we have to close them every hour for about fifteen minutes to sanitize them because of COVID protocols. Last night while the slide was still closed, I had a group waiting for it to open. One of the men in the group was kind of an obnoxious individual who kept asking to go down the slide. We had five minutes left before the slide would reopen, and he was getting in my space. I told him he could go down in five minutes, and he attempted to push past me. I probably should have called security then.

Eventually, I got him to back off. Once the slide opened, I attempted to explain the safety procedures for going down the slide, but the group was loud and gregarious and weren't paying attention at first. I quieted them down, pleasantly saying that nobody would be going down until they paid attention, which they finally did. A woman in the party went down first, then this man got ready to go down.

I am always very clear to the guest how to enter the slide and that they can't go head first, but this man made it a point to enter the slide head first, and I instinctually did something I wouldn't have thought I would do: I grabbed the man's ankle to prevent him from going down. Normally, if I guest does that, we just let them go and call security, but I grabbed his ankle and told him to pull himself back up. In grabbing his ankle, I pulled on the sweatpants he was wearing, which started coming off, revealing his bare butt. He was just laughing and thought it was a big joke. I wouldn't let go and told him to hoist himself up. He proceeded to not make any attempt to do so and deadened his weight to make it harder for me to pull him up. I would not let go. He was a heavy guy, too. I said, "Sir, you can't go down the slide headfirst." The rest of the group, his friends, just stood looking at us and laughing, making no attempt to help when I asked them. The man finally gave me his hand and I hoisted him out.

Had I been thinking more clearly, I would have just said, "Sorry, dude. You lost your chance. You won't be going down the slide tonight." But instead I reiterated how he was to go down the slide, he stepped in as if he were going feet first, and then quickly turned around to go head first. So I called security, and we had to temporarily close the slide until the matter was resolved. The man's friends said, laughing, "So did he ruin it for all us?" I said, more tersely than I would have preferred, "Well, we're temporarily closed right now and you're not going down at the moment, so yeah, I guess he did."

At that point, I felt angry and frazzled, still upset about an earlier interaction I had had with another obnoxious couple. Eventually, we got the slide going again, but I called my manager to arrange for me to step off the floor. She couldn't have been more kind or understanding. I heard security had talked to the man and he had scoffingly said something like, "Boy, you guys take yourselves a little too seriously." It was all a big joke to him—a safety measure designed to keep him from getting seriously hurt.

At the end of the night, I thought to myself, "Why did I grab his ankle? Why didn't I just let him go?" It really wasn't because I didn't want him to get hurt, although that was part of it. But what I really think was going on is that I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of going down the slide headfirst, which he clearly wanted. In that moment, I didn't care that his pants were coming off, that his bare butt was showing, if he was humiliated (he clearly wasn't), or how much he was fighting me. I just didn't want him to win.

But in a way, briefly as it might have been, I did let him win. I'm not talking about his going down the slide; I'm talking about how I allowed his behavior (and the other couple's behavior) to control how I felt for a good portion of the night, and as Will Smith allegedly said, "Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feeling, and emotions." Why give dumb asses (excuse my language) that power? I maintain that each of us has control over how we respond when confronted with something unpleasant.

As an actor, especially, I have been trained throughout my career to put on a certain type of character regardless of how I might be feeling in my real life. I've done shows where I was tired, annoyed, or sick as a dog, and the show might have required me to be peppy and high-energy, so I simply had to adjust. The audience doesn't care if I'm sick, annoyed, or tired. They came to see the entertaining show I'm paid to do.

I've also used this skill in retail jobs and in my current job. Now I'm not saying one can't feel upset or hurt if someone disrespects or abuses them. I certainly don't think repressing feelings is healthy—believe me, I did that for years.

But I do believe we have the power to not allow another person to control our mood. So these are some of the things I do—sometimes successfully, sometimes not—in these situations:

  • For every unpleasant guest, there are numerous fun and kind guests. So I try to concentrate on those interactions. Why let the one or two bad apples affect my mood when there are so many other lovely people out there? So I try to focus on the good rather than dwell and stew about the bad.

  • Understand that how the person is treating me is their baggage. It doesn't need to become mine. We don't know why people are the way they are or why they behave the way they do, but if they are unpleasant, obnoxious, or rude, that says much more about them than it does about me. Why am I going to let their bad mojo rub off on me?

  • Let it go. Even if I allow someone to momentarily affect my mood negatively, there is no reason to hang on to that feeling. All we have in life is the present moment. The past is in the past. So many of us (including me last night) choose to mull, stew, dwell, and hang on to the unpleasant things, big and small, that happen to us. We don't need to. We have the power to move on. Sometimes letting go of the ankle is better for one's emotional sanity.

  • Overcompensate. This may sound like a weird one, but it works for me. When someone is rude or mean, I actually turn on more charm and kindness. It's not always easy to do, but it gives the instigator less power, and there is also no reason for the innocent bystanders nearby to be negatively affected by what I may be feeling.

  • Breathe. This is why I chose to step off the floor. I find if I can just take a minute or so to take some deep breaths, quiet my mind, and compose myself, it helps me reset.

So these are some of things I do. What do you do when confronted with emotionally-assulting behavior?

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