Nosy customers

Most families have one or more individuals who I will refer to as ‘Mr Know-it-all’ though it could just as easily be a woman. He is the one who makes it his duty to suggest, advice or even order the rest of us socially inadequate individuals on various topics right from which movie to see to the hottest funds to invest in. Nothing is too personal for him.

I recall one such person, a far-off relative of my wife. That did not stop him from introducing himself at a family function. As is the case with these unique species, he somehow knew most of our family history such as the number of kids and their ages while we did not even know if he had any children! In a few minutes he was probing me to increase that knowledge and find potential areas where he can dish out sage advice.
“So, your daughter must be in PUC now. What combination has she taken?” he started. Uh-oh. Not a direction I wanted the conversation to take. “Arts,” I mumbled, bringing the inevitable response. “Arts? what! Not engineering or medicine? Why did you let her?” I could have told him it was her choice since she loved writing. However, that route was fraught with danger.

A Mr Know-it-all typically turns a blind eye to emotions or preferences and will respond with a barrage of facts and examples to support their pre-conceived viewpoints. So, to make it easier for him to digest I said, “Well, she was adamant about becoming a journalist and would not listen to our advice,” with a suitably aggrieved parental look which begged for sympathy on this betrayal from ones own progeny. Did not help.

“Journalism? Children are too carefree these days. Journalists have to work hard but get paid very less. She will have to travel a lot also. Bad decision,” he opined, looking accusingly at me for not being a more authoritative father. Other times, a Mr Know-it-all will point out facts regarding any decision which we have already taken as completely foolhardy, making us feel like imbeciles for not having sought their astute advice beforehand. It is not possible to avoid it by concealing the information as he will come to know one way or other.

I was visiting another Mr Know-it-all when he suddenly asked, “So, I hear you invested in an apartment on Kanakpura Road?” I nodded dumbly. “How much did you pay?” “30 lakhs,” I answered giving additional details of the property before the inevitable questions that would follow. “Too much!” He shook his head in pity as though a calamity had befallen me. “That was not very smart. Renting in that area is difficult. You should have asked me. I know of similar apartments for 25 lakhs on Bellary Road. As this location is closer to the new airport, it is a better investment.”

The best course was to look distraught and curse my stupid decision openly. Giving your line of reasoning is futile as it will be countered and you will be left feeling even more insecure. “I made a mistake. Next time, I will ask you first,” I surrendered and slunk away with my head lowered.

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