Do you remember learning about self-esteem in grade school? When they teach you to stand up for yourself in an assertive way? To speak up when someone doesn’t give you the respect that you deserve?
As it turns out, that’s only half the lesson. Because they certainly don’t teach you how to respond when someone gives you respect that you don’t deserve….
I went to happy hour with a friend one time. It was still early, so there was only one other customer sitting at the bar as we walked up. The bartender was deeply immersed in conversation with this guy, and as we waited for her to serve us, I couldn’t help but overhear their entire conversation.
Apparently, the bartender had gotten sick a few weeks ago and was worried that she had an ear infection. But, she didn’t have any medical insurance, so she didn’t know what to do. As the other guy nodded along sympathetically, I thought this was sort of a strange thing for a bartender to be telling a customer.
Maybe she knows him? Maybe they’re friends, and he’s just here to chill with her?
Finally, the bartender noticed me and sidled over. I ordered a round of drinks and handed her my credit card, telling her to keep the tab open. She glanced at it and then, somewhat unexpectedly, said this:
“Oh hey! Can I ask you a question?”
I furrowed my brows at her sudden eagerness.
“Okay, so I got sick a few weeks ago….”
And she carved a screeching u-turn right back into the story that she had just told the other customer. As I sat there, listening to her kvetch about her ear, I began to wonder if this bartender just had a case of oversharitis.