Too Polite

A few weeks ago I was having some soreness in my neck and shoulders, so I made an appointment to get a massage. Before the massage started, the masseur told me to let him know if anything he did caused me any pain. Well, while the guy was working on my sore shoulder it was quite painful. But for some reason I didn’t want to complain. After I flinched several times, the masseur stopped the massage and told me to sit up. He looked me in the face and said “Are you really so concerned with being polite and not hurting my feelings that you are willing to lie here and let me hurt you, rather than just saying ‘please stop that hurts’?” I realized at once that he was right. Why was I so afraid of complaining or of offending this guy – who I barely knew and who I was paying – that I was willing to endure actual physical pain?

This got me thinking about other situations in my life where I opt for “pain” in order to keep up my idea of good manners.

If you go to dinner at someone’s house and they serve a dish you hate, do you choke it down with a fake smile or do you ask for an alternative? If someone from work gives you an ugly sweater in the secret Santa gift exchange, do you keep it? Do you even go so far as to wearing it to work so that the giver can see you in it? Would it kill you to say I’m sorry I will never wear this and I hate for you to waste your money, could I return it for you? Do you endure 10 minutes of irritation while trying to politely get off the phone with a telemarketer or do you say “bitch please” and hang up on them? And why do I always try to pretend to the person that called me at 5:30 in the morning that “No no, you didn’t wake me up”? Have you ever sat through a movie you hate rather than walking out just because you don’t want to disturb those around you?

Have any of the following statements fallen off your perjurious lips:

  • “How nice we love Merlot”
  • “I’m in no hurry you go first”
  • “No, I do like this hair color it was just what I wanted”
  • “We love having ________come over. She’s such a well behaved child”
  • “You take the last one I’m not hungry”
  • “Isn’t it my turn to pick up the check”
  • “That was good for me”

If you relate to most of this, you are obviously either from the South, too afraid to hurt someone’s feelings, or worst case scenario – both. Don’t get me wrong, I would not want to live in a world where people didn’t try to be nice to one another. But as I get older I think maybe letting go of a little of my “fear of offending” baggage might be a liberating thing.

So until next time “fuck off”….just kidding, sorry, and please don’t tell my mother I said that.