I have a serious problem. It keeps getting me into troubling situations. And yet, even though I know about my problem, I still can't figure out how to fix it.
The problem is this: I can't say no. I just can't do it. I am especially prone to fall victim to this curse when confronted with an unexpected request--one for which I have not prepared an acceptable version of "no."
Yesterday, I was standing in line at the bookstore, eyeing the delicious Ghirardelli caramel squares that are always on display near the register. (You'll be happy to know that I did not purchase one. See Thursday's post.) I was daydreaming--possibly even humming a little--minding my own business and totally unaware of an impending attack. As I set my books down and the friendly lady scanned them, she suddenly hit me with, "Do you want to donate a bag of coffee to send to our troops overseas?"
I panicked. I wasn't expecting this question. "Yes!" I blurted out.
"Thanks!" she said, scanning a bag of Seattle's Best Coffee. I saw $9.99 show up on the register screen.
WHAT THE?? A multitude of thoughts passed through my head:
Is a bag of coffee really $9.99??
I've never bought coffee before in my life--why am I buying it now for troops overseas?
Don't the troops overseas already have coffee provided for them?
Should I tell her never mind?
But it was too late. She was handing me my books with a serene smile...she was throwing the bag of coffee in a box that will supposedly end up overseas...and I was walking away, $10 poorer.
To be honest, it doesn't bother me that I spent $10 on coffee for troops overseas. If they truly need it, I am happy to provide it. What does bother me is that I said "yes" without thinking--that it's always my knee-jerk reaction to say "yes" whenever anything is requested of me.
"Rachel, can you teach the afterschool SAT class?" (even though you are totally stressed and overwhelmed by teaching as it is...)
"Rachel, do you want to come to my Pampered Chef party?" (at which you will be pressured into buying an expensive kitchen item which you will never use since you hate cooking...)
"Rachel, can you go to Platos Closet and sell back this box of clothes for my family because they are 'racist' and won't let us go in there?" **This was a real request made by a woman who goes to my church who is infamous for abusing people's generosity. And, like a dumby, I said...you guessed it...
Oh my. This is a serious problem. Aren't there books and films about this? Isn't this the premise of a recent movie entitled, Yes, Man? (I never saw it--but if someone asks me to, I'm sure I'll say yes.) And I seem to remember that Ella was plagued by a similar malady in the novel Ella Enchanted.
I hope a fairy godmother or handsome prince frees me from this curse. But in the meantime, I've devised a phrase which I can blurt out the next time a devious bookstore clerk asks me to make a coffee donation:
"Not today, thanks."