Socially Acceptable

One thing that bothers me, (yes, another “one” thing that bothers me along with the countless other things on this blog,) is when people ask questions that they know you want to give a certain answer to, but you’re forced to give the opposite answer in order to remain sociably acceptable.

As an example of what I mean, lets say you’re famished and you’ve bought chips for dinner. You’re sat eating them. You plan on eating them all, you’re that hungry. Someone who you like will come over to you and, in such a nice polite way, will ask “Can I pinch a chip?” You don’t want to give them a chip, but you feel compelled to say yes because to say no would be socially unacceptable. Plus, they’re asking the question and THEY are also assuming that you’ll say yes because it isn’t socially acceptable to say no. So you let them have a chip and you leave yourself a little less food.

There are just some situations that you just can’t say no in, and the people who ask these type of questions know you can’t say no too. With all this pressure to say yes, you really have no choice.

In a similar situation, the closest I’ve come to being socially unacceptable was when I had chips and gravy one time. Someone came up to me and commented on how good my chips looked, then asked if they could pinch one. I replied “If you come near my chips, I’ll stab you with this fork.” Then I laughed. I only laughed because I surprised myself with my honesty. It was as though my subconscious took over and I accidentally said what I meant.

BECAUSE I laughed, they thought I was joking and assumed they were ok to take my food. So as they leaned across to take one, I stabbed their hand. Shocked, they let out a quick yelp as they recoiled. They looked at me quite stunned, as if the warning I gave wasn’t clear enough. They seemed to quickly replay my answer in their head, and came to the conclusion that I MUST have been joking because NO-ONE EVER says no. Then they laughed and said “I didn’t think you were ACTUALLY going to stab me!”, before leaning across and continuing to take a chip. So even though I went one step further than just saying no, and I made a genuine threat AND followed it through, they STILL took it that I meant “Yes” because EVERYONE ALWAYS says yes.

It could be my fault, to be honest. The very first time someone asked I would have been taken aback by the cheekiness and let them. This probably inadvertently set the precedent and so every time I’m asked I just say yes, because that is what I’ve always done.

Maybe I’d like it more if this unwritten law were to be extended to other situations too, where people don’t want to agree but would be forced to comply because that is what is expected.

Lets say you went into a library. You saw a book on a shelf that took your fancy. You take it to the check out desk, but instead of checking the book out you ask the librarian… “Instead of borrowing this book for a few weeks, can I just keep it forever?” The librarian, knowing that they should really say no would be forced to say yes instead.

In a bank, you could go in and ask the cashier “Can I have one of those pound coins at the side of you for free?” The cashier, knowing you shouldn’t really be allowed to take free money from the bank and yet knowing that you’re assuming you’ll be allowed to, would hand you one. They would do it quite begrudgingly, but they would HAVE to do it because turning someone down is not socially acceptable.

I know these are extreme versions of the original and very unlikely to ever happen, but wouldn’t it be great if they did? If it ever did come to pass that this rule became standard, at least I’d feel that I hadn’t lost all those countless chips in vain.

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