Status Quo: Can I Just Go to the Bathroom?!

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Illustrations by Nichole Samanich,

Illustrations by Nichole Samanich,

"Hey, can I ask you a question?" you submit in your usual humble, curious, sensitive, empathetic, inquisitive tone.

"You just did!" he spits, cementing his reputation as the frigging worst.


You calmly and innocently tried to get an answer, putting the person in a position of subtle power by admitting you need their help, and they spike it back in your face like an awful, pedantic schoolteacher responding to "can I go to the bathroom" with "I don't know can you!?"

Oh wow! You've taught me a terrific lesson just now! And, it's definitely what I'd most like to think about while I
already clearly have a different issue! How about you calm down about syntax and just interpret the ambiguity in my admittedly logically improper question with the same grace we all use all day long to decode the imprecise language around us. This is a great tangible opportunity for you to practice not being a gigantic asshole, if you were looking for one.

May I humbly suggest to you, kind citizen and curious asker, to try switching, regardless of who you're asking, to:

"Mind if I ask you a question other than this one?"

It's really the Steve Jobs black turtleneck of requests for help, and it might just really turns things around for you if you happen to be around secret assholes.

(Turtleneck credit: Chris Burrows)