Hax: 'Poor me' co-workers all protest too much
Adapted from a recent online discussion.
I could use advice on how to respond to my co-workers, who often talk about their supposedly impoverished childhoods even though, in less guarded moments, they reveal things that make it clear they didn't really grow up poor. It's like some weird contest. None of them grew up in worse circumstances than I did, and I wasn't poor.
Usually I ignore them, but I get annoyed when I have to listen to, “You wouldn't understand, Jane, because you didn't grow up poor like Mary and I did.” How do I let them know that I know they're full of it?
— My Poor Co-workers
Why do you need to?
There's the possibility that they were, indeed, needy and you're drawing incorrect conclusions. (Not that anything justifies a who's-the-poorest contest.)
These are sufficient arguments for not saying anything, but Ms. Shoulder-Devil has one, too: Watching people profess things that you know aren't true inspires some of us to make popcorn and grab a seat. Any “You're so full of it!” outburst would be counter to your own entertainment interests.
On a different tack, if you aren't amused: Interject brightly that you had to walk to school uphill! both ways!, and then leave. That's universal code for: Be martyrs on your own time, please.
To: Poor co-workers:
I'm relieved to know I'm not the only one in the middle of a who-had-it-worse competition. It is annoying, and I did go the route of just letting them make fools of themselves.
But do be careful what you mention from your own childhood. I recently said I would love for my daughter to have horseback riding lessons as I did as a child (to one co-worker in a relevant discussion of children's activities) and now I am the Queen of Sheba. I get comments about my charmed upbringing and how wonderful it must have been.
Why is this a contest?
You had a pony. That makes you the winner of all things to every overgrown 6-year-old in your workplace.
That does mean, alas, you can't use the “uphill both ways” deflection, lest you become the office Marie Antoinette, too. But you can respond impassively, “I was lucky in some ways and unlucky in others — like everyone else, I imagine.” And, thereafter, decline to engage.
I'm in a relationship that might need to end. She's awesome, but I can't seem to pull the trigger on committing to her. We are in a long-distance relationship and see each other only on weekends. I feel a breakup over the phone won't do.
She has things going on on weekends that I wouldn't want our breakup to spoil. How do people time breakups to be most sensitive?
— Timing a Breakup
The ideal timing is the overlap among these elements: when you're sure, when you can get there, and when you won't disrupt something important — as in, a deadline, test, major event. You don't have to tiptoe around every entry on her calendar.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Reports include ‘aliens’ as origin of Russian holes
- Pirates inquire about Red Sox LHP Lester
- Starkey: Would one big move kill Pirates’ future?
- Pennsylvania sued by U.S. over police fitness tests
- Chevron puts Moon HQ plans on hold
- Albert Gallatin bus driver pleads guilty to sexual assault
- Police: Westmoreland women stole thousands to pay for dog show hobby
- Former walk-ons may lose scholarships under Penn State’s Franklin
- Adelphoi resident charged as adult in Latrobe assault
- Steelers hoping that youth movement breathes life into team
- NFL notebook: Browns receiver Josh Gordon hires lawyer to help with hearing