Don’t Tell Me What To Do

A few weeks ago, two different men both took it upon themselves to give me, a perfect stranger, an unsolicited directive.

In the first situation, I was taking photos for a work assignment and had gotten enough candid shots that I decided to ask a group of two people if I could take their picture.

The guy responded, “You shouldn’t have asked. You should have just taken the picture.”

The next situation was a couple of days later when I won at Bingo (because I’m secretly eighty years old). Only I’m not quite sure I’ve won at Bingo — it’s one of those weird ones where you have to fill the corner like a postage stamp, and mine was in the bottom left corner.

After calling out an (admittedly unsteady) “BINGO…?” I walk to the front to present my card, and from next to me a voice calls out, “Yell louder.”

And in both cases, my answer was simple: “Don’t tell me what to do.”

I am not kidding. I know this seems like one of those retroactive story corrections where it’s like, “Oh, I WISH I’d said that at the time, so I’m just going to write it that way because that’s how it SHOULD have happened and I am the editor of my own life story.”

Nope. In both cases, my immediate, kneejerk response was to respond to their demand with one of my own.

Don’t tell me what to do.

I wasn’t particularly confrontational about this declaration. I even did in it in a sort of Bee and Puppycat singsong voice because it’s funnier that way and I’m uncomfortable with conflict. But I still said it, and it felt great.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a little older, a little saltier, or just a little more aware of my own boundaries, but I bristle HARD when people try to issue me commands in a way I haven’t always in the past. Something about the brazen chutzpah of a stranger (or heck, even the occasional friend) who somehow thinks it’s their right and privilege to bark directives at me or try to tell me what I should be doing just sets my brain on fire.

The dude who tried to tell me how I should take pictures, to his credit, did back off and apologize for trying to tell me how to do my job, and I couldn’t tell you how the other dude responded because I flounced right past him to scoop up my sweet, sweet Bingo winnings (a water bottle and a t-shirt).

Honestly, I’m not really sure where I was going with this. It just feels nice knowing that my lizard brain is capable of prompting more than just ineffective vowel sounds whenever unsolicited advice strikes.