I have a problem. Or maybe it’s not a problem at all. Maybe my problem is that I can’t tell if it’s a problem. And maybe THAT’S the problem.
Because here it is: I think I might be too polite.
I identify closely with the ‘Very British Problems’ Twitter account, a funny, satirical site that pokes fun at the British for being too stuffy and – dare I say it – polite. The problem is, as I read through them, I not only giggle, I happily agree with them on so many levels.
But then I wonder if these really are only “British” problems – or are they simply situations that plague the socially awkward among us and lead us to be FAR TOO POLITE.
For example last night the hairdresser burnt my neck with his careless use of the hairdryer but * I * was the one who apologised to him. His reply? “Beauty is pain darling.” Do you know what I did? I smiled and nodded… Because I’m a dickhead.
Here are some more examples of over politeness going too far:
1. Never wanting to use an exclamation mark yet worrying you’ll come across as miserable without one.
The problem with the written word is that there is no intonation and until someone designs a universal Sarcasm Font, we will have to resort to punctuation marks and emoticons to get our enthusiasm across. I’ve become so used to putting a smiley face into my correspondence that I no longer know where to draw the line. The exclamation mark DOES make things look super friendly but can also come across a little maniacal. It’s a fine line.
2. Saying you’re pleased with your haircut despite the deep inner sadness it is causing you.
I once believed this was only a woman’s pain, but now I realise it is a pain shared by both sexes. You sit and watch your reflection in the mirror as your world slowly falls apart. But do you stop them? Oh no, you don’t even make a move or say a word as they sheer off more than double the amount of hair you requested. Instead, you continue to answer the extraordinarily personal questions they ask you as they annihilate your fringe. Then you smile over excitedly and agree to be up-sold on some unnecessary hair products while taking out a second mortgage just to pay for it all.
3. Keeping absolutely still when someone else walks in when you are in the toilet stall.
Why?! I mean we’re not exactly in the toilet to get updates on the NASDAQ are we? We’re in there for one reason and one reason only. Why, then, do we get stage fright? Why do we have this great fear that someone will, heaven forbid, hear us – how do I put this (oh the irony) politely – break wind? We will probably wait out the other person OR make an inordinate amount of noise with the toilet paper to cover our tracks. Special mention goes out to the far too polite cry “Someone’s in here” when someone (presumably a blind person) pushes on your door even though it clearly says ENGAGED.