Do you mind if I…?

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I approach the man handing out cheese bread samples and extend my hand,” Do you mind if I I take one?”

“Yeah,” he nods.

“So… I can’t take one?” I ask.

“No, go ahead,” he replies.

“Wait – no, as in no? Sorry, I’m confused…” I say,” Should I-”

“Next!” he says.

Oh, the awkward moments created by this question. A couple of Sundays ago that happened to me at Wegmans. I suppose most people would have assumed that they could have just taken the bread – that’s why the guy is standing there – to hand out free samples. Yet his response to my question unnerved me: what if he didn’t want me to take a sample? What if he so happened to be standing there just for show? Maybe his tactic was to deny everyone a sample so that they would have to purchase the product. You never know.

Either way, there were people waiting behind me, so that would’ve been a lot of disappointed customers. I shouldn’t have been trying to get the cheese bread anyway, because I’m so fat I had other things to do. Like read. And eat innocent little children. Wait, that’s only on Saturdays…

Back to the point. When people ask the question “Do you mind if I…?” people generally respond by saying yes, even if what they mean is no. For example…

“Thomas, I love your blog,” she said,” do you mind if I subscribe?”

“Yes, of course you can,” I said.

In this case I’m stating that she should feel free to subscribe, but by saying yes I’m implying that I do mind if she subscribes – so that means I don’t want her to subscribe. Even when I do. Am I making any sense? Probably not. I’ll go back to my awkward corner of prolonged loneliness now.

Has something similar happened to any of you guys? I decided to write this little post after having answered and asked this question many times, in which I always was left feeling disoriented. I’m cool, I know.



Filed under Personal

2 responses to “Do you mind if I…?

  1. I always get confused with that too! When people ask me, “Do you mind?” I usually try to respond with something other than yes or no, such as a simple, “Go ahead!”

    What gets even more confusing is that in some countries/languages, the yes or no you’re supposed to give in response to “do you mind” or other similar questions is opposite. In English someone might say, “You don’t have class today, right?” and the appropriate response would be, “No, I don’t,” with the no indicating a lack of class. But in Japanese and Korean, for example, you would say, “Yes, I don’t,” with the yes being in response to the question of “don’t have class”.

    • Good idea – sometimes I say “No, I don’t mind” – but even that confuses people. “Go ahead” is a safe response, I suppose.

      That’s intriguing. It brings into question the grammatical construction of the question itself – I guess the simplest solution is to use body language or just ask another question.

      Thanks for reading and commenting! (:

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