David Royko Psy.D

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Don't Ask

Posted on August 10, 2015 at 1:15 PM

Starbucks people are just trying to be friendly, I know that.

Even for a Monday morning, I was feeling more tired than usual. The chirpy barista clearly wasn’t.

I hate it when strangers behind counters ask me unnecessary questions.

“Are you a guitar player? Are those from playing guitar?” She was asking about the bandages on three of my right-hand fingers.

I’ve gotten used to giving meaningless little generic answers to the usual barista questions about, say, weekends. “Have any plans?” gets “Some, thanks,” not a description of the every-other-weekend drive to and back from Cleveland and the autism-centered activities once there. That would be an actual answer.

But why would anyone ask a customer a question about bandages, unless you’re a health professional and your customer’s seeking treatment? So I just said, without any real inflection, “Oh, don’t ask.” But instead of simply not asking, she wanted to chat about bandages or guitars, and went on with, “Oh, I was just wondering because…” before I finally said, without any real emotion, “I have a severely disabled son who sometimes injures me.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean, I just…” she started to stammer, her voice quieter.

I just said, “No problem.”

And hopefully I’m done with questions about my weekend, at least from her.

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