Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How Do You Politely Tell Someone...

Would You Like a Tissue?
So, like most of us, I am closer to some coworkers than others. There are a few to whom I can say just about anything and a few to whom I can say some things. Even fewer are those to whom I don't speak at all, and mainly that's because they refuse to smile or even make eye contact when passing in a corridor or juggling to use the microwave. These folks keep their eyes to floor and don't really interact with anyone outside their own departments. They're often weird and socially inept and I've given up on trying to be friendly, simply because they refuse to do so in return. If you work for a moderate or large corporation, then you know exactly the kind of folks I'm talking about.

Then there are those with whom I don't work directly, but exchange smiles and polite "Hellos" when  our paths do cross. Some of them I know by name and others just from seeing around. It was one these co-workers I met in the kitchen today. We both smiled and said "Hello" and we started the usual exchange of pleasantries. "Gorgeous day, isn't it?" 

"Beautiful. Couldn't ask for better."

"Too bad we're stuck in here, all day."

"Yeah. We should have laptops to work outside on days like this."

"That would be nice, wouldn't it?"

Then I noticed it. I couldn't believe I hadn't seen it right away. Maybe it snuck out while we were chatting. But there it was: a rather large and particularly nasty booger hanging out of her left nostril, practically down to her upper lip. Horrified, I wasn't sure what to do. At first, I tried non-verbal cues - rubbing my own nose, sniffing loudly, etc. Finally, I grabbed a napkin and blew my own nose, even though I didn't have to.

"Are you alright?" she asked.

"Um... yeah, thanks." 

Finally, I just couldn't stand it any longer. "Um... you  might want to grab a tissue or something."

She reached up and felt what I had been trying to avoid telling her about and was immediately horrified, herself. "Oh, God!" She turned bright red and reached for a napkin, turning away to wipe and blow. "Well," she said, after throwing the napkin in the trash, "that was embarrassing!"

"No, please. It happens to all of us. I'd rather be told about it than walk around all afternoon like that."

"Yeah, I guess so." 

We finished heating our food and getting our soft drinks and left. I have no idea what she thought of the encounter. I don't know her name. She hasn't been with the company more than a few months or so (or maybe she has and I just didn't notice her until the past few months). Now sadly, until I do learn her name, she will remain "Booger Girl" to me. And even if I find out her proper name, she'll still be Jane, Joan, Jill, Sally, Millie or Betty the Booger Girl. Forever and ever. Amen. And our future encounters will always have that awkward "booger moment" which we'll never acknowledge, unless we end up being great friends somewhere down the road. Then we'll laugh about it when we reminisce about the day I told her she had a big booger hanging out of her nose. Or maybe I'm just romanticizing the whole thing (if 'romanticizing' can even be applied in this situation). Whatever.

BTW - There is always that co-worker who walks around the office picking his or her nose with abandon, finger shoved up there two knuckles deep, distending the nostril to twice (or even three times) it's normal size. Usually this is one of those socially inept people I was talking about earlier. They don't know how dress, don't comb their (often unwashed) hair and usually wear far too much cheap cologne. Avoid that person at all costs. 

And if you are a co-worker of mine reading this post, please don't ask me who "Booger Girl" is. I'm not about to tell. I was raised to be a gentleman, after all.

More, anon.

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