I am a huge fan of Dear Prudence. As in not having missed a column or chat in the last five years. (Probably even longer.) For a student of human nature, it’s a most excellent read. And usually pretty amusing. Suddenly the annoying people in my life don’t seem all that bad in comparison to what some people have experienced.
Unfortunately, though, sometimes people write in about things that they find absolutely appalling and I realize that those are things I have actually done. So, according to the audience of Dear Prudence here are 5 reasons why I am very, very rude:
1) I have pet a stranger’s dog. (More than once!) I’m sorry. If a friendly dog is jumping up on me, I’ll probably just pet it out of habit. (And then run home to wash my hands so I don’t break out in a rash!)
2) I have asked if expecting parents have any names picked out. (Again, more than once.) This seemed like a nice question to ask. Again, I’m sorry. On the upside, expecting parents, you don’t have to worry about me “stealing” your baby names for the simple reason that there are no babies in my near future. And I won’t play name police if you decide on a totally different name once the baby arrives.
3) I have asked many, many people about the origins of their unusual last names. (Asking about ethnicity is-I know now-a very touchy subject.) I’m sorry! In my defense, I grew up in the South where being Italian-American was exotic. People often asked me where I was from because I didn’t have an accent like them or a common last name.
4) I have complimented a (close) friend on her weight loss. I am so very sorry! She looked great and I thought I could be encouraging that her hard work had paid off. It never would have occurred to me that someone might find this insulting.
5) I have offered to help a disabled person. I am truly sorry! This one is the most embarrassing to me by far. It seemed like offering to reach something on an upper shelf at the grocery store for someone in a wheelchair would be helpful. But, apparently, this can be perceived as very offensive. Fortunately, the gentleman in this instance did not seem to mind and took me up on the offer.
The bottom line, I think, is to give people a bit of grace. Sometimes what bugs you isn’t intended as rude. Obviously, I wasn’t trying to be offensive with any of the above. Mostly, I was just trying to make conversation, be helpful, and/or show interest in others (and their pets). Now I know, however, what could be perceived as appallingly rude.
Have you ever discovered that a habit of yours has been complained about in an advice column?