I got caught out the other day doing some voluntary work. Actually I was covering for the paid staff’s lunch, which I do as a personal favour, not because I’m asked to.
At the time I made a remark to someone in response to a rather fatuous complaint. “Don’t worry, I’ll pass that one on.” I said in cheerful tones. Honestly, I thought the guy was kidding me by making such a nonsensical remark so my initial response was to blow off his complaint as though it were of no importance. Much to my surprise he came back at me with; “You just insulted me.”
To which my conditioned reflex was; “Wasn’t meant as an insult. I’m sorry you feel that way.” My mental response was a slightly confused ‘where the hell did that one come from?’. Although by then all I saw was his retreating back. Damn! Someone had been playing victimhood poker and I’d been so involved with other thoughts I missed an opening gambit.
Upon reflection I should have trusted the evidence of my own eyes. My accuser moved like someone with poor self esteem. Hunched up shoulders, slightly dragging footsteps and wearing his defensiveness like a shield. If I was security or a copper, he would have flagged up on my ‘Up-to-no-good-ometer’ right away. He acted furtive, if you know what I mean. If asked, I would have said the adjective ‘creepy’ would not have been too far off the mark. A veteran offence seeker like that should have had my mental defences ready with all guns loaded. Fortunately they are so rare in our neck of the woods that I’ve gotten out of practice dealing with such people. Good natured joshing is more usual in our part of Canada.
Notwithstanding, when playing victimhood poker, the idea is to trump the ‘offendedness’ of your opponent by insisting that you are the hurt party. No matter what the complaint against you, you must always claim the other party is actually in the wrong. This is a great game, and if played well can reduce one player to a grovelling apology in three sentences or less, regardless of any fault.
Let me demonstrate by example. Say we have two verbal combatants, Player 1 and Player 2. The game begins when Player 1 claims that their ‘feelings’ have been hurt. The reality of the Player 1‘s claimed offendedness does not matter, as Player 2‘s game objective is to negate present and future offence seeking behaviour. To win, Player 2 at no time should neither raise his/her voice, nor give the vaguest indication of smiling. An expression of indignant ire is a distinct advantage.
Player 1 opens with: “You insulted me!”
Player 2 counters with: “I find that accusation rather offensive.”
Player 1 is forced to fall back on: “But you insulted me!”
Player 2 can now offer: “Please don’t be patronising. I find your attitude vaguely (Player 2 inserts relevant ‘ist’ here). Kindly take your prejudice elsewhere before I call (Enter relevant authority figure here).”
Now this should be a winning gambit, as all Player 2 has to do to win is to insist that Player 1 is acting out of ‘prejudice’ and committing some vague sort of ‘thought crime’. However, it cannot be stressed too strongly that at no time must Player 2 indicate anything but muted moral outrage. Mocking laughter is only permissible after Player 1 is almost (But not quite) out of earshot. Extra points can be earned, should Player 1 return, hotly demanding apology for their ‘hurt’ feelings. At this juncture Player 2 should claim to be laughing at something else that was actually funny, and demand to know why Player 1 is indulging in ‘Offence seeking behaviour’ which Player 2, in his/her turn finds ‘violently offensive’ which Player 1 should immediately apologise for. In its purest form, this game is almost like playing ‘Cheese shop‘ without the Cheese, the shop, or the Monty Python references.
The winner is the first to obtain an apology.
I missed an opportunity like that? Crikey. I must be getting out of practice.