Saturday, August 22, 2009

Am I Cursed?

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 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."


  1. Oh my gosh, you are so funny! You made me laugh out loud, especially at that RIDICULOUS Plato's Closet request! Just start saying no and eventually you won't care when people act annoyed that you say no. I used to care, but I don't anymore. On the upside, now that you've announced via your blog that you aren't interested in Pampered Chef parties the girls in your ward may invite you to fewer! :)

  2. Haha! Your blog posts are so entertaining. I love to read them.

    Good luck in the future in this area. I'd love to see how your future "no" experiences go.

  3. Glad to know someone is worse than me!

  4. I used to be the same way as you. I bought everything from traveling salesman. But living with Brent for 13 years I have taken a complete switeroo.
    Love the post.
    Just start with one no, and then 2, and before long it will be so easy.
    I can't believe you say the d word and you buy coffee!

  5. I have a similar problem. Maybe it has something to do with our occupation... I think most teachers have this curse to a certain degree!

  6. Haha, I can think of several people I know who have this problem. Luckily I'm not really one of them. Sure, sometimes it is hard to say no, but if I really don't want to do something, I usually think of a way. At least you are nicer than me. :) Good luck saying no, you can do it!!

  7. Rachel that is exactly what I always say at the supermarket, dept store, whenever anyone asks me to donate any money or sign up for any Store Credit Cards, etc. "No thanks, not today" and trust me it works perfectly because that way I don't come out as a cheapo and I don't fall for something that I know I'll regret later so take that first step and empower YOURSELF and so "no" it's not as hard as it sound...really. :-D

  8. I can help you with saying no. I am really good at it.

  9. I am glad to say that I DO say no to store credit cards! It's just the good causes that KILL me. I don't want to say no to someone in need! Even troops overseas who want coffee!

    Thanks for the emotional support, everyone.

  10. I like "yes" people. I think they are the best people this world has to offer. :)

  11. Hey Rachel- Would you like to clean my bathroom? You see I'm just really busy and...- loved the post.

  12. You're hilarious. And such an excellent writer - I guess it comes along with being an English major. And yes, you can say no!

  13. How true, how true. The confessions of an overcommiter. I'm one too. I'm tired of it though. I'm going to start saying no to something or someone. I just haven't found anything to let go of yet.


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