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.
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?