Welcome to Thatz Not Okay, a regular column in which I school inquiring readers on what is and is not okay. Please send your questions (max: 200 words) to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject "Thatz Not Okay."
I have a new doorman and he's really great. He seems to actually enjoy his job, like the building residents, and not just have a smile plastered on top of general contempt for us.
Here's my problem though: when I leave AND enter the building he tells me to "Be safe!" as if me, a man in his thirties, has not mastered crossing the street or like he is concerned that once I get back into my apartment I am going to decide to play with knives and plastic bags. I think it is nice that he is concerned for my safety but to say it feels a bit condescending if there isn't an obvious added danger.
I'm thinking about saying something to his boss, along the lines of “I think he is great but could he stop saying that?” Is that okay?
Thatz not okay.
Is it possible that the reason your doorman is so polite to you is that he realizes you are psychotic and is afraid of triggering your unmerited righteous anger?
Do you take all casual valedictions so literally? If a waiter tells you to take care, do you get up in his face and snarl, “Look me in the eyes when I say this: I AM ALWAYS CAREFUL”? Do you snap at cashiers who mumble “Have a good night,” because you don’t like being told what to do? Did you used to flip a fucking shit when your old doorman (the one you probably got fired for no reason) would call out “Goodbye!” (a contracted form of the phrase “God be with ye”) because God—HA—God has not been with you since he cast you out of his heavenly kingdom a thousand lifetimes ago for daring to question his sovereignty. God is the reason you toil away in this mid-priced apartment complex, a prisoner of your doorman's kindness. God made it His mission to ensure you know only misery.
Having said that, I do encourage you to contact your doorman’s boss, because your insane complaint paints a glowing picture of his performance.
“No, listen…He ALWAYS says ‘Be safe.’ Like, never misses a day saying it. I can’t set foot in this building without him acknowledging me!”
It’s like demanding to speak to a manager because "this silverware has been polished to a gleam that is nearly blinding!" or writing a letter to your councilwoman to complain that "the benches in our local park have been arranged with such perfect symmetry that the resulting design is an offense to God."
Can you imagine how you (not you, but a human man) would feel if you somehow managed to get this friendly doorman in trouble for doing his job too well? You say yourself he’s “really great." His only crime: espousing the controversial gospel of “Be safe.”
The proper response when someone tells you “Be safe!” is You too, George, my man! or even Always am! Not blind rage.
I’m sorry your sins against the Lord have condemned you to a life of maddening routine, dooming you to walk the earth for all eternity without the promise of death, the threat of which, ironically, provides the sense of urgency that makes life worth living. I’m sorry everyone you allow yourself to become close to—the brunette in #509 who is hit by a motorcyclist one Wednesday morning while crossing against the light; the kind-eyed Cuban deliveryman who succumbs to a tragic plastic bag/knife incident one evening after dropping off your arroz con pollo—is subject to the whims and wills of fickle fate while you are cursed to a forever of unimpeachable safety. I’m sorry if the cavalier politeness of your well-intentioned doorman reminds you everyday that you have nothing to live for and, conversely, that nothing will ever stop you from living.
But don’t try to get him in trouble. You’re such an asshole.
Riding home on the bus, I was playing games on my smartphone when a stranger asked if he could use it to make a call. I responded, "Oh, this? It only gets data and text." (WHICH IS A LIE!). Luckily for me, he chose not to push the issue of my dishonesty, and politely said "Okay, thanks." I felt bad for lying to him, but I only pay for 300 minutes a month, and I did not want my phone to be stolen.
Lying to strangers on public transport (or anywhere for that matter) in order to prevent them from using your belongings: Is that okay?
The entire world doesn’t win carte blanche to use your stuff just by asking for it. “Can I borrow…” is neither a formality nor a magic spell; it’s a request. That’s why we have to be so nice to people with Netflix passwords.
Number one, no one should be making a phonecall on a bus. You will unfailingly have to shout to be heard over the clatter and clank of the bus (first sentence after “Hello?": “YEAH, NO, I’M ON THE BUS!”), which is rude to other passengers.
Number two, you are under absolutely no obligation to let a stranger use your phone. You don’t know what some random person is going to do with it. Dial in a hit? Send a text message to a disgraced politician? Just fucking gank it and run? You don’t need any of that.
Do you feel bad about telling white lies to those aggressive quasi-charitable panhandlers? (“Actually, I do have a minute to learn about wind energy, but I’m going to use that time to buy a pretzel instead!”) Frankly, I’m impressed you came up with such a smooth fib on the spot. I’m printing your question here mostly so we can all memorize your lie and regurgitate it the next time a stranger asks to use our phones.
It’s not surprising that the man accepted your lie about the limitations of your data plan without demanding proof (Like what, an itemized cell phone bill? A character statement provided by a non family member?). If he’s looking to borrow a cell phone on a bus, he’s probably not a lawyer. Also, while data & text only plans don’t actually exist (at least according to the techies I polled), it’s not like your lie was super egregious.
“What, this? It’s a brick! It’s my lucky brick that I carry around with me everywhere! You can’t make calls on it! I wish that you could but, sadly, we do not possess the technology!"
I get why you feel bad. What if God was one of us – just a stranger on the bus trying to make his way home? There will always be “do unto others” extremists who will tell you that you are a bad person for not letting the stranger use your phone. These people are much more likely to have their phones stolen or get slammed with overage charges.
(Also, if you want to use a phone for free, you are better off walking into a place of business and asking if you can use their landline because it's an emergency.)
(Only do that if you're having an emergency.)
Submit your "Thatz Not Okay" questions here (max: 200 words). Image by Sam Woolley.