The Problem with Not Nipping It in the Bud

Watercolor on paper. Copyright 2014 Totsymae

Watercolor on paper. Copyright 2014 Totsymae

Folks, maybe you couldn’t rightly tell but I’m from the south. That simply means that I’m genteel, polite and I, occasionally, display a smile at the absurd.

I said all that to say this. I think I’ve generated myself a slight problem of sorts, on account of being so southernly nice. There’s this woman who finds me so interesting, I reckon. she’s always trying to be up and inside of my business. Look, I’m just regular, plain ole ordinary folk much like yourself, so I haven’t quite figured out why she needs to know the whys and whatnots of me taking a day off. I don’t be off much at all in the first place but it seems she feels the need to know the details of my absence.

Instead of me saying, “If you don’t get your life, I’m gonna carve you a new one,” I figured with her being so smart, being a problem-solver and all, she’d take the social cue of me staring at her without so much as a blink, and go on ’bout her nosey business. But nooooo. She stares, waiting for a response as if she’s the check signer.

Now, why I’m off has no affect on what she’s gotta do. What I absolutely loathe is folk wanting to know the whys and whats on account of being a no count busy body. They have no use for the information other than wanting to know. I was thinking to put out my business in the form of a magazine and have her subscribe for $500 a month. That way we’ll both know if what I have going on is valuable enough for her to pay for. I’d be required to disclose every why and whatnot, in that case. Maybe we could even do lunch and I’d talk about myself in the third person, saying stuff like, “She didn’t come to work ’cause her jeans  were so tight, she couldn’t walk,” or “She hurt herself twerking at a Miley Cyrus concert.  Pulled a hamstring like you wouldn’t believe.” 

How do you gently keep folk outta your business? Or is gentle not a term you’d use to describe how you go about it?


33 thoughts on “The Problem with Not Nipping It in the Bud

  1. I like your imaginary comeback! What a difference between real life and our fantasy lives where we can say these things without consequence. Cos she is being straight up rude and insensitive with it not to take the hint.

    I tend to be on the polite side… but if I am tired or stressed I too easily revert to my terse Chinese heritage. This leaves me feeling bad sometimes… but on the other hand it’s the opposite of an open invitation to snoopers.


    • Yes, she is being rude; quite invasive. I’m beginning to not like her but I know part of that is me not addressing her. On the other hand, she talks too much, so that’s why she’s got me giving her the side eye.


  2. I start out gentle like you. Then silent avoidance. I had a neighbor like that. Before long I was blocking her from my cell phone, my Facebook page and avoiding her altogether. Eventually she got it. But if none of these work, then I tell them right to their face. I did that once. Never heard from that gal again. Enough said.


  3. Or the next time she takes a day off, get up in her face about it. Your readers have a lot of good suggestions, too. There’s more than one way to skin a cat!


  4. I tend to be politely evasive, but it sounds like you’re past that. If Bless your heart doesn’t work then I tend to move into abruptly shocking and outrageous (Injured while tweaking with Miley would qualify). Doesn’t win me friends but it can be satisfying and usually works like a charm.


    • I always feel slightly guilty but when I ponder it, she doesn’t seem to, this being repeated behavior and all. I just wish she’d get it. I’ve got good feedback on how to lose her interest, so I’ll be trying at least one.


  5. From one Southern Lady to another, some folks simply cannot take a gentle nudge in the direction necessary to remove them from your porch. There are times it requires more than genteel tones and polite terms, we must revert to other less kindly notice.

    I believe the offer of a $500 monthly subscription might work. I like Patricia’s suggestion, the request for money whether a loan or a gift always seems to send others away. Outrageous excuses though, I would not offer these up, any person who wishes to be up in your business is certain to also be a gossip and would immediately put your business in the street.


  6. If there’s a really nice way to do it, I’m not aware of it. It’s in times like this where I’m reminded of my favorite refrigerator magnet: “Friendly persuasion is nice but nastiness gets better results!” Sometimes, you just gotta bitchslap someone to get them to understand that you want them to leave you alone…


    • It’s a huge flaw to be that way, don’t you think? There’s a quote I discovered recently that sums up why I should think more along the lines of kindness, which goes: Before you speak, ask yourself: Is is kind, is it true, is it necessary, does it improve upon the silence? (by Shirdi Sai Baba) These words make me deliberate what I must and need to say. But lo and behold, if she catches me on the wrong day, I’ll liable to take a verbal swing. It’s getting on my nerves.


  7. I just make a point to stonewall people like this. Be polite, but very apparently terse. “Where were you yesterday?” “Took a day off.” “Why?” “To do some stuff.” “What kinda stuff?” “Just some stuff I needed to do.”

    If they don’t have the sense to give up, you could make it more and more painful for them and resort to monosyllabic grunts in response to their interrogations.


  8. I have noise canceling headphones for that! Nothing like an embarrassingly, loud “Can’t hear ya, m’am!”

    Seriously, when asked too many questions, I flip the script and begin to ask them all about THEIR business. Just as they’re done, add a little “Well, would you look at the time?”

    Honestly, I get into this dilemma every now and then. There’s a nosey body I see at the gym, on FB, etc. Always asking about my damn background, home life, trying to figure me out. Less is more, I have to keep reminding myself.


  9. I used to be polite, but now that I’m older and from Idaho, I would just throw a potato in her face. “There’s plenty more where that came from, sister!”


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