Myna Strikes Again

Picture it. A generic office setting, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. There is a giddiness in the air– it is a half day, and no one can concentrate the day before a long holiday weekend.

I’m talking with my co-worker about something legitimately work-related. Myna is hovering near our desks. Not asking a question, interjecting, or asking to see either of us before we leave. Just staring at us while she is eating yogurt.

It’s weird.

After about 5 minutes, I ask if there is something I can help her with. No, no… she is fine. She just wants to check in with said co-worker before she leaves. And yet, Myna continues to stand and stare.

It’s so weird.

I’ll take a break from the story telling to clarify that this isn’t unusual for Myna. Of her many, many, many quirks, Myna suffers from a colossal case of FOMO (i.e. fear of missing out.) It’s a little junior high, but I also get it. She sits in an office while most of us are in cube farms, so she can get a little isolated. Still, Myna’s FOMO is painful for everyone.

Now where was I… At this point, I realize there is no way that I’m getting back to work. The only way to get Myna to leave is to make idle conversation with her for about 15 minutes until she is reassured that nothing interesting is happening.

We start off talking about her daughter’s birthday party. It sounds like a delightful time was had by all. We talk generically about kids birthday parties. And then….

I can’t remember. Do you want to have kids or not?

I’m 4 days post transfer at this point. I’m mixed with excitement and fear, all of which I want to keep very much to myself. This is a personal question, which seems even more so with the timing.

Of course given Myna’s track record, it is a small miracle that I have worked with her for two years and dodged this particular question. My co-worker is frozen in horror. But I’m prepared. I have a retort.

You and my mother-in-law would love to know!

This usually gets people off my back. I simultaneously remind people that this is a personal question, and compare them to a nosy mother-in-law. No one wants this. It is a graceful out for all parties involved.

But Myna doesn’t take the bait. She asks AGAIN. What kind of emotionally tone deaf person am I dealing with?!

So I steamroll that fucking question by talking about how my mother-in-law has been asking me this question for over 13 years– before Mr. Ostrich and I were even engaged. I tell her about the time she asked at Labor Day cook out. And that time she cried at me over Christmas dinner to “give her grandbabies.” Or at a wedding in front of her three sisters. If I just overwhelm her with information, at some point Myna will forget what she even asked in the first place.

After she walks away satiated with her colleague bonding time, my co-worker looks at me and apologizes for not intervening. Sweet, but what was she going to do? This isn’t on her, it is on Myna.

I thought back to when Myna told Grebe that she would want children if she happened to find herself pregnant. Or when she told another colleague that having babies in ‘Murica isn’t the same as in Nigeria. In both instances I literally walked away because I was so offended. But perhaps that is cowardly.

So here’s a question for the class… Next time Myna asks someone (including me) about their reproductive choices, should I actually tell her to shut the fuck up? Obviously in a nice, work-appropriate sort of way. But is it better to deflect or tackle this kind of shit head on?



  1. C.L. · December 1, 2014

    After encountering this question for so many years, my usual response was “I’ll be happy if it happens, but if it doesn’t, no biggie.” Total lie of course but it usually satisfied people.

    • thecommonostrich · December 1, 2014

      You cool cucumber, you… I don’t think I could be so nonchalant about it.

  2. My Perfect Breakdown · December 1, 2014

    The last person who asked me, my dentist’s receptionist, got the honest truth “we’ve had five consecutive miscarriages and it’s really not looking good for us.” Shockingly she handled it really well. That said, I’m not sure I could be so blunt in an office setting. Maybe you could passive aggressively tell her that its a really frustrating question to constantly be asked, and if you at some point you do decide to have children she’ll find out at the appropriate time.

    • thecommonostrich · December 1, 2014

      Your dentist’s receptionist? Maybe it was one of those “you had to be there” moments, but I can’t imagine any circumstances where that would be okay. Glad she handled it well, though. At least she is half human…

      I thought I was being passive aggressive! Maybe more aggressive aggressive aggressive next time?

      • My Perfect Breakdown · December 1, 2014

        Let’s just say I was pretty annoyed at the receptionist for asking, that’s why she got the truthful and awkward answer! You are right, it really wasn’t okay, but she’s a nice lady and I only see her once a year (assuming my teeth stay healthy), so I’m over it.
        More aggression seems like a good plan although unfortunate and possibly uncomfortable given the work relationship.

  3. thebarrenlibrarian · December 1, 2014

    Oh Myna. When will she learn?!

  4. thebarrenlibrarian · December 1, 2014

    Also, sometimes when someone would really bug me about when we’re going to have kids, I would respond with something like “Well, we plan on it, but Chief and I both feel like we need to get out of the meth business first.” to REALLY make people uncomfortable.

  5. Elizabeth · December 1, 2014

    Working in an open plan office has destroyed my patience for letting inappropriate office chat go. When I’m uncomfortable I usually say “oh my god, this conversation is making me squirm can we please talk about before I incinerate? Generally the next topic is “but WHY was that conversation making you squirm? I maintain you should be able to maim one co worker a day.

  6. Elizabeth · December 1, 2014

    weird, does WP not put in text if it’s in brackets? That should read “insert banal current event topic” before I incinerate.

  7. thecommonostrich · December 1, 2014

    (Agreed. That is weird, but I got your point.)

    Open plan offices are TERRIBLE. I had to listen to a co-worker complain about finding a nanny today (good help is hard to find, in case you are wondering.) I almost threw things at him, but instead cranked up my headphones REALLY LOUD.

    I may have partial hearing, but at least I haven’t assaulted anyone.

  8. mamajo23 · December 1, 2014

    Ugh is she annoying and seemingly clueless. I say at this point if she asks you again or bring it up you just say that you like to avoid religion, politics and reproductive choices in an office setting then smile sweetly and move on. I was always surprised the five women I worked closely with who are all at child bearing age and married never brought this up. I just recently found out that four of us are suffering from IF and have all been secretly going through IVF and the fifth does not want kids. Craziness.

    • thecommonostrich · December 1, 2014

      WOW. What are the odds on that?

      I’ve worked in more female dominated teams before, and this was never a problem. This woman in particular likes to know your business– then tell you how you’re obviously doing it wrong. Everything from planning your vacation to buying a house. Myna knows best! #extremesarcasm

  9. mrsaligators · December 1, 2014

    Ugh how frustrating. I have a coworker who knows we have infertility issues and tells me ALL the time to just get drunk and it will happen. Sure, I went through IVF and spent tens of thousands of dollars under the care of a great DOCTOR but getting drunk is the answer. Duh! I finally broke one day after my July miscarriage and told her it was offensive to me. Maybe with someone like your coworker, directness might make her think twice about what comes out of her mouth.

    • thecommonostrich · December 2, 2014

      Which sadly is why I’ve told so few people. It’s remarkable how much completely unsolicited advice you get– without realizing how hurtful it is.

      I agree- I’ve got to stop being cute about this and just directly tell her this is private. Because I’m sure she’ll ask me again, any minute now.

  10. julieann081 · December 2, 2014

    How annoying. I think you should do whatever feels right for you. Hugs!

    • thecommonostrich · December 2, 2014

      What feels right is running as far away from her as possible! I really do want to say something next time- it’s not okay for anyone to ask that question, doubly so in a work context.

      • julieann081 · December 2, 2014

        That’s understandable. I agree with you 100%. ❤

  11. Lacey · December 2, 2014

    Working in an open floor plan is the worst. No one wants to use the conference room to have personal conversations. They stay at their desks instead – even though they know everyone can hear them. Annoying!

    We’ve been scheduling appointment after appointment with our RE, so in the beginning I was letting my boss know I’d be out. He finally asked what was going on and I felt like I needed to tell him (and only him) because I knew he wouldn’t gossip about it like the women (and some men) that I work with. Now, I plan my appointments around my lunch hour so I don’t have to explain anything to anyone.

    I have only had one person say something offensive to me. The rest have been understanding. I can’t imagine what I would have said to Myna in that moment. I liked they way you handled it. I also think telling her to eff off would work too. Ha!

    • thecommonostrich · December 2, 2014

      It’s great to have a manager who is so understanding and respectful! Mine doesn’t know why I’ve been at a bunch of appointments– and he has made it clear that he doesn’t think that it is any of his business. For this, I adore him.

      Next time, I’m going to try and be more forceful (because there WILL be a next time.) She makes me so uncomfortable when she asks these questions, I don’t see why she shouldn’t be uncomfortable when someone points out how rude it is.

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