Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Bite Me! And Words That Bite

by Kris Pitcher

I'm happily and productively minding my own business in my office when I'm joined by my colleague. "Wow! You've really packed the food away today!" She says looking at my Pyrex pyramid. I look at my 3 empty medium sized containers flanked by 2 smaller ones, with 3 plastic spoons spooning each other by their side. My meal time remnants were nestled next to my cooler which contained one last meal.

Before I could say anything she came at me again. "What's in all those anyway?!" "Well," I start...kindness I think to myself. "Lean meat and vegetables. And oatmeal in the little ones." I finish. Bite me! I've lost almost 5 pounds this month, what have you done! This comment remains behind my smile.

"I'm here 8 hours" I explain, "so, I eat 4 meals here every day." I go on to explain that I eat about 1700 calories each day. But I can see she's stopped listening. She proceeds to tell me she doesn't think she eats enough early on in the day, and then too much in the evening. I suggested she spread her calories out during the day, eating every few hours. I've suggested this several times a year...for going on 5 years.

I don't think people mean to be abrasive. I have to believe they're just interested in what you're doing. But people say the darnedest things. I'm warming a meal in the microwave in the work room and someone says, "What strange thing are you eating today?" Well, I wasn't aware that I had the reputation for eating weird things. Um, chicken and broccoli...very odd. "Oh, that isn't so strange!" She said. Why, no it isn't. But this exchange sure was!

Maybe doing something different just makes us hypersensitive. Maybe people don't think before they say things out loud. Maybe people don't know how to ask about what you're doing in a normal way? I'm not sure. But sometimes people say things that bite. I don't think about my eating "behavior" as being that different. I bring food from home with me, and I eat it. But I guess based on what others around me are's pretty weird.

So, once again I will resign myself to not be phased by words that bite, or to retort with "Bite Me!". I will remind myself that people are interested and are looking for a way to make conversation. I will put down my defenses and my sensitivities and I will think kindness before I respond.

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