So to speak: Unsolicited opinions

Opinion Thursday 19/May/2016 10:02 AM
By: Times News Service
So to speak: Unsolicited opinions

I have no problems with people who think they know too much only if they could keep their opinions to themselves. I bumped into an old acquaintance last week and it went wrong in the first five minutes of our meeting. After exchanging brief pleasantries, he wanted to catch up with the lost time. He asked me whether I was prospering and I said I was managing quite well. He also wanted to know how exactly I earned my living and he frowned when I told him I was a journalist.
“Do you make enough from that?” He inquired, surprised at my choice of profession. I assured him I was making ends meet and I was quite happy with my work.
“I am sure you are,” he said, “but journalism doesn’t make much money for a man with five children.”
It was fast becoming one of those moments when you get hot under the collar. I kept my cool and assured him that I was managing my economy fine and he had nothing to worry about.
“You could get a permanent job somewhere else and still earn extra money from the newspapers,” he kept pressing on, “what about your old job at the airport? Can’t they have you back?”
When I was lost for words for his outrageous comments, he took the opportunity to continue and added, “but you were teaching after that and now you are doing something else. You need to stick to one thing, you know.”
My mobile phone came to my rescue. I gratefully whisked it out, took my time talking to my wife, hoping he might move on. He did not and I had to end the telephone conversation as he was standing next to me. He carried on where he had left off.
“How do you know that people enjoy what you write? I read one or two of your stuff and they were pretty boring.”
“Yeah, I am sometimes known for that,” I told him, wishing he could shut his mouth, then quickly switched the conversation, “do you still supervise the garbage with your municipality job?”
He took that as an offence and sharply said, “I am a health inspector and not a street sweeper!”
I restrained the urge of extending the sweet revenge. As it turned out, he finally got the message. I was glad to part company with him and spared myself further embarrassments. People like him with nothing better to say get under your skin. They think they know better and the right to pass judgement on what you do with your life. Sometimes, some tradesmen use it for their own professional advantage by deliberately trying to make you look like a fool. An insurance salesman tried to make me buy a policy I did not need. He stopped me in a crowded shopping mall and offered his product.
“You don’t realise how seriously you need life insurance,” he explained when I declined his offer, “how can you be sure your family will be well provided for when you die?”
I tried to side-stepped him but he blocked me. For the next five minutes, he tagged behind me like a tail, desperately trying to sell me a life cover. He pretended he knew all about my life and how badly I needed to insure myself. Luckily for me, a woman who was amusingly watching us from a distant, stepped in between the salesman and I to end it all. “Leave the poor man alone,” she barked at him. As I watched him walking away, I wondered who was going to be the next person with bad persuasive skills to ruin my day.