5 Favors People Love to Offer (That No One Wants)
I've written about people you meet in hell and people who deserve to die for everyday crimes against humanity -- y'know, like eating pungent food on public transportation. But today's column is about people who attempt to make this world a better place with their tiny acts of human kindness ... and why I hate them. Yeah, I'm difficult to love. Actually, hate's too strong a word. The point is, even though we generally like it when people do nice things for us, there are some favors no one really wants. Here are five.
Apparently, when you search "favor" on Getty, it pulls up barefoot mountain dancing.
Holding Doors Open from 30 Feet Away
It's typically a lovely gesture when someone holds a door open for you. It's a wonderful way of saying, "Hey there, tiger. Here ya go! Please benefit from the fruit of my labor as you journey from one location to another." Some sociologists say the tradition of holding a door open for a fellow pedestrian started in ancient Rome, when centurions would use it as a training exercise to build wrist dexterity and foster teamwork. OK, one sociologist says that. Well, actually just some guy I met at the bus stop who once took a sociology class. Fine. No one says that.
But no one likes it when you hold a door open for someone who's like 30 feet away. All it does is create 15 seconds of awkward. A door comes into view somewhere on the horizon, you make out the faint outline of a traveler far ahead of you and then light emerges from the next room as he opens the door to enter. Surely the door will close behind him, but wait, what's this? The door -- it's staying open and he's not entering. He couldn't be waiting for you -- you're like still 20 strides away. Good Lord, he is. Wait. Do you know this guy? Is it your dad? No, it's just a complete stranger staring at you. And waiting. Don't rush, he says. Take your time. But you quicken your pace. How can you not? Don't rush, he says again, and you do an awkward half-waddle with an arm outstretched in the final three steps to signal the impending hand-off, shaving a microsecond of discomfort off this inexplicably awkward and needless exchange.
The last thing you see before the douche chills set in.
Offering to Go With You, if You Can Just Wait for Like Five Minutes
It's typically a lovely gesture to offer companionship to someone riding solo. "Hey there, tiger," you say (because apparently you call everyone tiger), "I can come with you!" What better present than giving the gift of you! No need to travel alone, good friend. We shall walk side by side along this road of life!
Still not relevant.
But no one likes it when your offer of companionship comes with a delay. "Oh, you're going to Starbucks for a cup of coffee? I'll go with you ... just give me like five minutes." No. No, I will not give you five minutes. Why? Because despite carrying giant buckets of self-loathing, most of us can stand to be alone with ourselves for the 3.8 minutes it takes to go to the lobby and order a venti latte. And we want our venti latte now, dammit. Not in five minutes. Also, it's never five minutes. Not ever. You say five minutes, but it's a filthy lie, and as awesome as you are, and as horrific as the thought of a lonely elevator ride is, waiting 10 minutes for a coffee-run companion just isn't worth it.
Drinking less of this might make you a tad more patient.
Lending You Books, Music or Movies You Don't Want
It's typically a lovely gesture to share things with friends. My buddy Jason Roeder once bought a pitcher of beer for our table. It was awesome. And I still treasure the hepatitis B Adam Tod Brown gave me just by virtue of breathing air within a five-foot radius of him. Also, sometimes friends share things that must be returned, like favorite books (when books existed) and CDs (when CDs existed) and movies (when movies existed). Or I guess today friends might rip those things for illegal sharing on their buddies' hard drives? I'm not sure, but whatever the method, it's usually thoughtful when someone wants you to experience the same joy they've felt from a piece of art. It's also kind of flattering, as there is an implicit belief that you share their sensibilities.
Adam Tod Brown wearing a sweatband, as is his custom.
But no one likes it when you force your crap on them. And don't give me that "Oh, but you asked!" garbage. If you're hanging out in your cubicle jamming out to tunes and someone asks, "Whatcha listening to?" that is not free rein to insist they take home your collection of Lithuanian prayer hymns or Air Supply. We're just being polite.
And what's even worse is that once you force us to borrow it, you follow it up with "Didja listen yet? Didja? Didja?" No. No, we didn't. We're going to stare at it for many weeks until it finally makes us so sick that we skim it for 30 seconds, pick the song we claim to like, say the rest is OK and leave it on your chair when you go on vacation.
"Oh, um, I liked, uh, track ... 3?
Giving You a Shortcut When Your Normal Route Is Totally Fine
It's typically a lovely gesture to share your knowledge with another. We all like behind-the-scenes advice and shortcuts on the road of life. Got a line on concert tickets? Share away. Know a trick for saving money at hotels? Let's hear it. Know a shortcut to avoid the hellacious traffic that could add literally hours to our journey? We're all ears. No one in their right mind (or even me in my wrong one) would complain about such things.
Know who's great at shortcuts? Roman centurions. I'm just kidding, my friend just bet me 10 bucks I couldn't use the same pic three times in one article. Actually, I'm still kidding. I have no friends. I had one once, but I kept talking about the Romans.
But no one likes it when you insist upon shortcuts for journeys that are not particularly problematic. "You took Old Spring Road to the Dairy Barn? Oh man, what are you thinking? You gotta take Old Mill, then get off at Parker Drive and cut through the neighborhood. That way you miss the stop sign by the Taco Bell and the stop light by the public library!"
"But I got here in like 10 minutes," you say. "What's the big deal?"
"The big deal?! You could have gotten here in half the time. I'm telling you. Old Mill Road. It's all about Old Mill Road. Listen to me. I know what I'm talking about."
But we won't, and we hate you. We will never take Old Mill Road. Ever. We will only think you're a d-bag every single time we drive by it. And we will pray for the day where there is a major accident or road construction on Old Mill Road. Because that's the day we'll be sure to mention to you that we almost got completely fucked by taking your advice, but thank goodness we stuck to Old Spring Road instead.
"Good Lord! That could have been me. Old Mill Road indeed!"
Offering to Teach You Something You Don't Want to Know
It's typically a lovely gesture to teach someone something. After all, that famous proverb goes "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for life." Personally, I don't buy it. I mean, who is this dude who lives by the ocean but has no idea how to fish? What does he think all those fishermen he's begging off of are doing? He probably can't be taught. What I'm saying is, maybe just give him some fish. And cut it for him. Also make sure he's using a spork, because sharper utensils are probably a hazard. Poor dude.
But no one likes it when you offer and then insist on teaching them something they never wanted to know. "Nice knitted cock ring," you say, noticing your boss's knitted cock ring prominently displayed on his desk. I mean, what else could you say? It's on his desk. He wants you to see it. But then suddenly it's all, "Yeah, knitting's really relaxing" and "You should try it" and "Here, let me show you how." Next thing you know, you're knee-deep in yarn and needles and your boss is spending lunch with you every day, measuring your junk to estimate how much yarn is needed. Unless this is just me? Also, turns out it wasn't a cock ring. Just a mitten, but you get the point.
This is my boss.
The Romans are big fans of HATE BY NUMBERS. Also follow Gladstone on Twitter and stay up-to-date on the latest regarding Notes from the Internet Apocalypse. And then there's his website and Tumblr, too.
For more from Gladstone, check out The 4 Kinds of People (And What You Can Learn From Them) and 6 Non-Medical Excuses That Should Qualify You for a Sick Day.