If only I were smarter…

We have a new girl who has joined the company. This is how my conversation with her went the day after she joined office. Sometimes I take the initiative to introduce myself to lost-looking new entrants. This time The Girl chose to do the initial talking.

The Girl: Where do you live?

Me: In XYZ  sector of XYZ.

The Girl: Do you own the house?

Me: (gaping open mouthed)

I don’t think I need to tell you, I haven’t exchanged a word with The Girl since that day. We sit together in the bus( for lack of another option,  not  out of choice), use the same bus stop in the morning and evening but I make a conscious effort to not talk to her. That one conversation with her has ticked me off so royally that I don’t think I want to get acquainted, leave alone make friends with her.  If you are a little nosy, I will tolerate you. But if you are going to ask me if I own the house I live in in the second sentence you say to me, rest assured we won’t be talking much in the future.

The most annoying part of this episode is not the question she asked me, but the fact that as shocked and annoyed as I was, I answered her (naturally after  a time lapse of about 5 seconds, which I took to recover  from the initial shock). I don’t know why I did that,but I always react like this. I answer people even when they are being rude and impolite.Even when I would rather just tell them to take a hike. It’s almost as if I have been socialized into reply to everyone’s queries.  As a kid it was drilled into my head that it was rude to not reply to people promptly when they had asked you a question. It was wrong to keep people waiting for a response. But there must be some practical boundaries to this rule. When people ask personal questions that are really none of their business, I shouldn’t be compelled to answer them. I should  be able to come up with a prompt but polite “No, I don’t want to answer that” or a super smart answer that takes them by surprise and effectively shuts them up. In reality, I am capable of doing neither. I will first be utterly shocked and/or disgusted, then recover to answer the question , and fianlly proceed to remain upset for the rest of the day. Since I don’t think I will ever be able to point blank tell someone to mind his/her business, I think i need to go for option-2 and get smarter. And real soon. During a casual lunch table conversation with the boss I made an oblique referene to this incident( of course, with changed identities). She had this to say “She really said that?! Why didnt you tell her, nahi mera ghar nahi hai. Pehle log rehta tha. Unka murder kiya, body pheka, aur tab se us ghar main rehta hai hum log” (Please pardon the terrible Hindi but I am reproducing what she said verbatim.)

Now why couldn’t I think of that answer???!!

6 thoughts on “If only I were smarter…

  1. May I suggest another option that works brilliantly everytime I am faced with a question that I don’t want to answer?

    I smile a big smile and ask the person, “Now, why would you want to know that?”

    It works, try it out sometime 🙂

  2. hey parul…thanks for stopping by…will give your idea a shot the next time i am faced with some impolite questions..not that i want to face such a situation again..EVER!

  3. Now dude i think our meeting is long overdue!!! like hello!!!!!! i cant belive it that you would answer that kind of question straight off…think u could do with some dosage on indirect answering!!! or better still just straight blunt replies..extra smart ppl deserve blunt replies 🙂 u r crazy…i would have told such a person..what do u think..take a guess! and told her in as many words as to dude really how does this matter or this is like the compulsive question you need to ask everyone when you meet them first time! 😀

  4. At 40+ I am still very un-smart in the face of such questions! Occasionally after the moment is over I come up with brilliant retorts. A blank look, and total ignore might work, as if you never heard the rude question, as if such questions are too cheap to deserve an ear. Continue the conversation as if the question was never asked. Might work.

  5. hi indian homemaker.. i do that too…smart answers come to my mind a tad too late! i dont think i’d be able to totally ignore questions, no matter how rude.. i find it hard to “ignore/delete” people… will try continueing the conversation pretending i dint here the question tho.sounds like a good idea.

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