Monday, August 07, 2006

Can You Take A Hint?

One of the same friends who used to only call when she needed something had a husband who was a world champion hinter.

"We've got to pick up this dining room table we bought, but I don't think it will fit in our car. I don't know where we can find a car big enough. I think we'll need a truck..."

Long pause, while we all consider trucks. Hmmm. My not-yet-an-ex-at-the-time, who was elsewhere, had a truck.

"I guess we could rent something," he continued, staring off into space, not making eye contact. "But it seems like a lot of money, renting a truck, for just fifteen minutes." Pause, pause, pause. "The store is just around the corner." Long pause and a sigh. And on it went. Oh, alas. No truck, no truck.

"Not-yet-an-ex-at-the-time has a truck," say I. "I'm sure he won't mind. You should call and ask him."

"Oh no! I wouldn't want to ask... I mean, if he WANTS to do it. If he OFFERS, that would be great. But I would never ASK."

So I went and asked. An offer is made, and the table is eventually fetched.

He never, ever asked outright. For anything. But he would hint, long and hard and blatantly. And then one day, someone else brought up the subject of some favor thus attained through the Olympic(tm) medal caliber hinting. And the Hinting Husband was shocked and horrified.

"I never asked them to! If somebody offers, I'm not going to turn them down. But I don't owe them anything. If they didn't want to do it, they shouldn't have offered!" And then he chuckled warmly, content in his never asking and owing nothing.

And that, right there, is what bothers me about being hinted at.

Because they don't come right out and ask, they feel free to never return the favor. Because they don't feel that there was a favor. Because they always stop just short of coming out and asking.

So I have subsequently become the densest person on the planet with Compulsive Hinters.

(scene: a fictional and non-existent job, similar to one I held ages ago but in no way representative of any actual employer or co-worker, or of any conversation held with any co-worker or employer or employee ever at any time. Or anything.)

"Gosh, I wish I had some milk for my coffee," says Compulsive Hinter.

"Hmmm." I sit there, sipping my soda.

"I'm stuck at my desk allllll lunch, and there's no way I can get away to buy some milk. I can't drink my coffee without it." Compulsive Hinter stares mournfully at his/her coffee cup.

"Hmmm." I open my bag lunch, brought from home.

"If only someone who wasn't so busy was going out for lunch. I bet it wouldn't take long to pick up some milk. If they took their car..."

I rustle my sandwich baggie loudly. Compulsive Hinter can't be talking to me, as I obviously brought food with me and am going nowhere. And yet, there's no one else in the room.

"Isn't there some fresh milk in the break room? I saw Office Manager opening it this morning," I say, as Compulsive Hinter is settling in for a good long pout with his/her still black coffee.

"Ohhhh." Long pause. "That milk." Compulsive Hinter sets the mug down with a dissatisfied thunk. "I don't really drink 2%. It tastes funny."

Office Manager pops her head in the door. "Hey, Panda. Could you do me a favor? I'm stuck at my desk and I forgot to pack a lunch. Would you mind picking me up a sandwich."

"Sure, no problem." I drop my sandwich and grab my purse. I turn to the Compulsive Hinter. "Do you want me to pick up some milk for you while I'm out?"

"Oh no!" Compulsive Hinter is shocked, shocked I tell you, that someone would think he/she actually wanted something. "I wouldn't want to bother you."

"It's not a bother. I'm going to the deli. I'm sure they have milk. If you want me to pick some up, just say so."

He/she glowers at me, refusing to ask outright.


"Well, you have my cell phone number. Call me if you change your mind."

And checkmate.

He/she never called, and I picked up the milk anyway. Whole milk, just like he/she liked it.

Which he/she refused to acknowledge or use.

Sure, I can take a hint. But I prefer to leave it lying there on the floor, where someone might step in it.


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