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Glad He Got Fired
from Melissa

We had a new employee at work and he sat at the desk next to me. I have extremely bad fingernail P. One morning he looks over and says, "Girl, you are in serious need of a manicure."

"No," said I. "I have psoriasis. This is just how my nails grow."

Then he asks the Stupid Question. "Isn't there something you can do for that?"

"If there were," I said. "Don’t you suppose I would have done it?" Who the heck would want there nails deformed on purpose? At least he got fired a week later. -Melissa

*****

Ed’s Response: You’ve touched a nerve, hit a hot button, Melissa. Senseless verbal reactions. How do we deal with them? How much inanity can we absorb? The Don’t Say This list is full of stupid statements.

Ok. My two cents.

Sometimes people risk saying something stupid because it (a) breaks the ice and is (b) self-effacing in the process. They feel compelled to communicate about what so visibly ails us, but they don’t want to offend us, so they make themselves seem small in comparison to us. Substitute for "small" in the preceding sentence any of the following: stupid, clumsy, uninformed, naive, innocent, simple, idiotic.... The intended result is always the same: Rather than be offended by their bringing the subject up, we will reward with information because they are so badly in need of it (because they are small, stupid, clumsy, uninformed, naive—). I rather suspect your hapless colleague did not ask "Isn’t there something you can do for that?" because he really thought you were dumb enough to know about it but not be doing it, but because he wanted you to tell him more about your P. When you’re not involved in the exchange, but studying "in transcript" (more or less like this) it’s easy to argue the offender thought his inquiry more sensitive than a simple, "What in hell is wrong with your fingernails?"

All the analysis aside, it’s still irksome to be caught off guard this way. I’ve come to the point where, whenever and however possible, I thwart the offender’s attempt to get me talking about my P....

"Mister, you are in serious need of a manicure."

Silently I hold up my hands and peruse my nails and let my eyes grow wide with feigned alarm. "Good lord!" I finally exclaim, "I should say so!"

End of conversation.

Keep smiling, Melissa. -Ed

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