Some years ago after an afternoon with a difficult client, a co-worker stopped me and explained that the woman had been so unreasonable due to an apparent case of Retina Rectal Syndrome. The co-worker, a grandfatherly type named Bob, explained in his gentle voice that his wife, a hospital nurse, had described this sort of thing often. I was 25, still naive and bought it--hook, line, and sinker.
"Apparently, there is a nerve that runs from the corner of your eye all the way to your anus. It can cause all kinds of problems in people, can get inflamed, et cetera," explained Bob to me that day. "Sometimes surgeons have to sever that nerve and it can take a long time. It removes your crappy outlook out of life." He stopped and smiled, then added sweetly, "In some people, both eyes need to be done."
I have held this story close to my heart for years. Having been faced with a jerk more than once, remembering the story while someone spews hate has been a life saver. In fact, recently I sat with my husband at a dinner with an out of town guest. The gentleman there was discussing a notoriously difficult (to say it tactfully) supervisor.
"You know," said the colleague to us that night about his boss, "he's had a hard year. And he even just had some sort of surgery for a nerve problem or something." I had to clap my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing out loud.
Retina Rectal lives.