Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Yeah, yeah, yeah… No.

“It’s funny – the Hawaiian method of communication.” I glanced over at M’s husband, waiting. Whether it was profound or a gigantic lie, it would be delivered with grave seriousness. So I tried to pay close attention from my blissfully relaxed state.

“You’ll go in somewhere. Let’s say you want a specific movie. So you go to Blockbuster and say, ‘Do you have Fight Club?’ And the guy just stares at you. So you think, and say, ‘Brad Pitt? Ed Norton?’ When that doesn’t work either, you throw a few mock punches.”

I nod, understanding so far.

“So it’s good when the guy finally says, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah!’ He’s excited, you’re happy, and everything’s going pretty well. But then he keeps talking, standing there behind the counter. ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah! … No.’ The ‘yeah’ – even in repetitive form – is just a sign of understanding. Not of agreement. So basically he’s saying, ‘I finally comprehend you! But no, we don’t have what you want. Sorry.’” With a nod to acknowledge the truth in his story, he waits until M and I stop giggling.

“It’s like ‘Roger’ basically. Do you know what ‘Roger’ means?” He asked M.

She shrugged and I went to google as I sat on the lanai with my laptop, basking in the joy of wireless signal and a gorgeous view.

“I think it means ‘Understood.’ Or ‘I heard you.’” He mused.

Message received.” I confirmed. “And understood.”

“Right! So when I ask a question, and someone says ‘Roger,’ I keep waiting. Because they just said they heard and understood my question. They didn’t answer it. But I think they think they said ‘yes.’ But they didn’t. I think.”

“Roger, Wilco.” I said, with a smile at M. “Message received, and I will comply.”

I generally find it difficult to say no. If I understand your request – sometimes even if I don’t – I tend to agree. It’s the desire to be liked, wanting to make people happy. The thought of annoying someone by refusing a request makes me cringe. But…

I was cuddled in a nice seat on the plane that would take me from HNL to LAX. A window seat with only 1 chair separating me from the aisle. I was 3 rows back from the middle set of lavatories. I could see the large movie screen quite well, but wouldn’t be distracted if I decided to read. Good seat, I decided happily. I booked early and chose carefully, pleased with my planning.

A girl, age 15, I guessed when I smiled at her, sat next to me. An older woman approached after placing her bag in a seat across the aisle and up one row.

“Excuse me.” She said with a sheepish smile, and, knowing what was coming, I nestled deeper in my seat. “We’re together, and I wondered if I could trade seats with you.”

“Where are you sitting?” I asked, wincing already. I love window seats. I’m not the best of flyers in general, and being able to curl into a wall, watch what’s happening outside – it helps me stay calm. She nodded at the seat on the aisle of the middle section, and I wrinkled my nose.

“I’m sorry. I really prefer the window.” I said, turning to apologize to the girl as well. She smiled and shrugged. The older woman sighed and cast me an irritated glance. It didn’t bother me as much as it once would have. And to prove I’m not inherently evil, I did make friends with my seatmate. She was 10, not 15 (we exchanged birthdays. Are children looking older or is it me who's aging too much?). Her phone was much cooler than mine, though she didn’t have nationwide long distance. My iPod was newer than hers, which pleased me no small amount. She lived in LA, so she didn’t have two additional flights lasting more than 8 hours (with 2 layovers). Lucky. But she was in 5th grade and hated school, so she was jealous that I was finally done. I called it even overall. (And no, it doesn't escape me that I was competing with a 10 year old.)

On the same flight, the woman ahead of me asked if she could close the shade over my window. First, she shouldn’t have been reclined into my space at 4PM. Second, I was clearly reading! Using the light coming in the window! But she ambushed me while I was happily listening to music, pseudo-watching King Kong and reading.

“Oh, OK.” I said without thinking. I frowned while she happily slammed the plastic covering down and reclined back in her seat. My new friend had been reading as well. The woman in front of us turned to frown at me when I turned on my overhead light, and my patience ended.

“I’m reading.” I sneered, and opened the window halfway. “And I’d like the window shade open.” There’s no redeeming ending to this story. She made me mad. Therefore my bad behavior was provoked. So there.

I was working from home today, nestled on my loveseat, trying to focus on Wicked (which is getting so good!) and working on this talk I have to give in a couple weeks (I quake with nervousness. Seems like I’d grow up eventually, but I’m semi-terrified about it. Has anyone else noticed I'm looking pretty immature through this whole post? It's unfortunately not intentional.). I saw someone walk to my door, tucked in the L of my house past my front window. I glanced at Chienne – she was sleeping on the couch – and unfolded myself to wander to the door. I leaned down to grab her collar as I unlocked and opened the door.

“Hi.” He said – a young man, rather dirty, wearing mirrored sunglasses. I nodded in response and just stood there, waiting to see what he wanted.

“What’s up?” I finally asked, growing tired of bending over the dog and shushing her as she started to whine.

“We’re working next door. Building a deck. And we tripped a circuit.”


So I continued. “Mine is in the garage. Maybe you could look in their garage.” I suggested, still not knowing why he was here.

“We don’t have a key.”


“So we wondered if we could use your power.” He finally continued.

“Oh. OK.”

“So you don’t mind?” Actually, I wasn’t sure. This was one of those roger-OKs, not an affirmative OK. But it seemed petty to refuse, so I shrugged and said it would be fine. Which meant the dog was locked inside all day since they were in and out of her fenced yard. They knocked twice for me to reset my breaker box. The second time earned them a glare and huffy sigh. This is what I get for being nice to people, I thought irritably.

So I had no trouble sending the Orkin man away when he came to inform me of the neighborhood special. Enough, after all, is enough.

It amuses me greatly that I was attempting to prove that I was more mature by learning to refuse some requests. I fear I actually provided evidence for my selfish immaturity. The truth hurts sometimes, doesn't it?


MplsJu said...

I just read Wicked this winter...how far are you? I won't tell you my final opinion of the book until you're done (I'd hate to ruin any of it) but I'm curious what part you're at.

post-doc said...

Elphaba just met with the Wizard. I'm nearing the end. About 2 hours of audio left in something like 18 (I'm guessing here - could be wrong) hours total. Can't wait to hear what you thought! It moved really slowly for me at first - without the nudging from a friend, I would have quit after she left college. It was bumming me out. I'm glad I picked it back up though. Makes the commutes go much more quickly.

apparently said...

Saying no is good for you. Doing it well is a skill we all need. I usually say NOOOO with my eyes in hopes of not being asked. Of course I now travel with The Kid so people don't bother to ask for favors.

post-doc said...

I subscribe to the 'don't make eye contact' strategy. :) Thanks for the support though - I'm learning and eventually I'll master the graceful refusal.

admin said...

Wicked is fantastic. I loved it and had hubby read it b/c I thought all these things that the author incorportated were great...He didn't share my enthusiasm. My mom couldn' even finish it, I had to tell her the ending. This summer I plan on reading Confessions of an ugly stepsis. Hopefully it's just as good.

post-doc said...

I wouldn't have finished it without prodding, so I feel for your mom. :) But I did enjoy it very much - finished it this morning and moved right on to Son of a Witch to see what's up with Liir. But the author reads this one, so I'm adjusting to a different voice telling me the story. We'll see how it goes.

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