Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: June24 on July 16, 2013, 12:24:17 AM

Title: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: June24 on July 16, 2013, 12:24:17 AM
I have a problem with a work acquaintance who can be very crass and obnoxious, and I would like some advice on how to deal with her without being rude myself.

I am not friends with my colleague "Hyacinth" - she is pushy and has been known to say really inappropriate things in front of senior colleagues, so I try to distance myself from her.

Hyacinth has gotten into the habit of asking me where I purchase my clothes, bags, and shoes, and critiquing how much they cost. She always does this in front of other people. Usually I can get away with "oh, I don't remember, I've had this for a while" or "it was a gift", but occasionally she will recognize a well known brand and latch onto it.

Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?
Me: Oh, it's just a bag I've had for a while - I really enjoy it because it's very comfortable to carry and goes with a lot of stuff. (I then try to move on quickly to other topics. When the bag is from X designer, I don't want to tell her because she will lecture me about how I shouldn't waste money on it. I'm not really sure what else to say here. It would be awkward to tell her to let it go and that I don't want to talk about it. Should I say less? I don't want it to seem awkward, so I try to be conversational when she remarks on something that I'm wearing/carrying. My bags don't have noticeable logos on them - maybe just one really small one on the hardware if you get really close.)
Hyacinth: I'm pretty sure that's X designer. Did you buy it yourself?
Me: It was a gift. So about the project...
Hyacinth: It must be nice to have your parents buy you everything. I'd never want to waste that much money on a bag. That cost $X - it's a complete waste of money.

As you can imagine, this is really awkward and embarrassing for me and for other people in the group.

More background:
I don't discuss any financial problems at work, nor is there anything about me that would make people think that I'm really poor and or that I am getting into debt buying stuff that I can't afford. Hyacinth is about my age (mid 20s) and we work in an environment where it's not unusual to see people wearing/carrying luxury items - it's usually the more senior people, but the younger people do own nice things as well, so I don't really stick out unless a person is very familiar with various designers and can identify their clothes/shoes/bags without an obvious logo.

Hyacinth has been unpleasant toward me since I met her - she once started a conversation by asking me "what's your deal", and then rapidly followed that with "what do your parents do", "where did you go to school", "where did you go to high school", "is that a private school" and "do you have a boyfriend". All normal questions, but the rapid fire questioning without giving me a chance to ask her anything in return made me feel like she was sizing me up. I also don't think that it's a matter of her being jealous - she seem to wear nice clothes and has a disposable income. Both her parents work in a lucrative field and went to fancy schools, which she never lets us forget. (Not sure why she talks about it all the time and brings it up every time she is introduced to a new person, since pretty much everyone in this environment has/is working on a graduate degree from a great school, so it's not like she's impressing us.)

My questions are:
1. How do I stop her in her tracks when she asks me if an article of clothing is from X well-known designer, especially in front of other people?
2. How do I respond to her lecturing me about the price of things? Is it better to let there be an awkward silence and switch topics, or should I tell her that I don't want to discuss how I manage my money? I'm not sure which is less jarring, especially since she often does this in front of other people whose opinion of me matters.
3. If you were in my shoes, would you stop wearing some of the nicer things that you own to work, or would that be giving her too much power? I really don't want to have to do this.

She really only seems to do this to me. Other people whom I like seem to get along with her just fine. To clarify, I don't mind someone telling me that they like X item of clothing that I'm wearing or asking where I got it. It's just that Hyacinth seems so catty and focused on the price.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Deetee on July 16, 2013, 12:30:05 AM
Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?
Me: Oh, it's just a bag I've had for a while. How are your vacation plans coming? Are you still planning to go to Aruba? etc...

or

Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?
Me: Yes, isn't it just great. I remember when I bought it. We were downtown for my sister's birthday and we were all supposed to meet at the station, but my sister's best friend wasn't there and wouldn't answer any texts and we didn't know what to do and so we went and got ice cream and while we buying ice cream we found sister's friend just sitting there and we asked her what she was doing and she asked what we were doing and it turned out she thought we were meeting at 3 when we were really meeting at 2 and.......
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: NyaChan on July 16, 2013, 12:33:38 AM
"Did you buy it yourself?" -- "Why do you ask?"
"How much did that cost?" -- "Why do you ask?"

Odds are she'll say something like, "I'm just asking" and you can say "Oh really?" and then immediately bean dip.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: DottyG on July 16, 2013, 01:02:50 AM
"Did you buy it yourself?" -- "Why do you ask?"
"How much did that cost?" -- "Why do you ask?"

Odds are she'll say something like, "I'm just asking" and you can say "Oh really?" and then immediately bean dip.

This.

Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Raintree on July 16, 2013, 01:04:26 AM
I could use some practice with these kinds of people myself.

Ideas:

"Did you buy it yourself?"
"Excuse me?"

"How much did you pay for that?"
"Wow, are you really asking me how much I paid for my purse?"

"You spent too much! I know those cost $XXX!!"
"You sure take an unusual interest in my spending."
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Pen^2 on July 16, 2013, 01:38:39 AM
My sister used to do something similar to this. Every gift she got, she would scour the local shops and find out exactly how much it had cost the giver. Next time she saw the giver, if the mood struck her, she would start up a conversation in order to judge them based on how much they had spent. Not classy, I know.

Bean dipping just didn't work at all. June24's example seems to show this also: Hyacinth just interrupts the topic change with her unwanted statements. My sister would also flat-out ignore anything you said that wasn't about the bag (or whatever it was) and would have a one-sided conversation by herself if she needed to, with her victim trapped backed up in the corner of the room unable to escape. Non-committal responses were ineffective, as were things like "wow, what a personal question" or "you seem really interested in how much things cost." She'd just keep going no matter what was said to her. (I once said, "oh look, the wall fell down" and she didn't even blink.)

I found the only way to stop it was to walk away immediately, before she even finished her first sentence, if it became obvious that she was going to harp on about how much something cost and why I'd spent too much or not enough. I'd grunt, "sorry, I just remembered something..." as I turned and quickly left.

Try bean-dipping some more, and use the responses suggested by others. But some SS simply don't care to listen to you; they are happy to have a one-sided judgemental conversation. If she turns out to be this kind of person, as my sister was, are you able to up and leave when Hyacinth starts up?
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: June24 on July 16, 2013, 02:11:36 AM

Bean dipping just didn't work at all. June24's example seems to show this also: Hyacinth just interrupts the topic change with her unwanted statements. My sister would also flat-out ignore anything you said that wasn't about the bag (or whatever it was) and would have a one-sided conversation by herself if she needed to, with her victim trapped backed up in the corner of the room unable to escape. Non-committal responses were ineffective, as were things like "wow, what a personal question" or "you seem really interested in how much things cost." She'd just keep going no matter what was said to her. (I once said, "oh look, the wall fell down" and she didn't even blink.)


Yep, this is it exactly. If you try to change the subject, she just ignores it and keeps talking what she wants to talk about.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: PastryGoddess on July 16, 2013, 02:22:01 AM
Hyacinth sounds very insecure and seems to have a need to bring others down to make herself feel better. 

You are doing a form of JADEing, which is not helpful. Stop actually answering her questions, because that opens you up to more of her intrusive questions.  Every time she brings something up, I'd turn it around on her either with a question or a pointed comment about taking so much interest in you.

"Why do you ask?"
"Why do you need to know that?"
"You seem to be awfully interested in my purse/shirt/shoes/etc, why is that?"
"How is that any of your business?"
"Why does it matter?"
"Thank you, this is a nice [item] isn't it"
"What's your point?"
*awkward pause* "So anyway, as I was saying" *Back to topic before she interrupted*

It would help if you added a mental "Bless your heart" after everything you said.  You tend to get a look on your face that's a cross between pity and amusement.  It induces frustration in busybodies.

If you aren't able to leave after dropping these one liners, then make a very obvious show of changing the subject after each and every question.  Make it a game.  See how many times you have to change the subject before you can leave or she stops asking. 
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: aiki on July 16, 2013, 03:03:32 AM
Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?

You: I'm really not interested in discussing the price and provenance of my belongings with you. How about that local bean dip team then?
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: figee on July 16, 2013, 03:11:16 AM
If Hyacinth won't let you change the subject the only thing I can suggest was something I leant at work when people were criticising something I am involved with but not in charge of, and they made it into a personal attack.

Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?

You: Why?

Hyacinth:  Blah blah, waste of money...

You:  So noted.  (Silence)

Hyacinth:  Waste of money etc etc.

You:  I've noted your opinion.  Now its time to move on.  OR repeat 'So noted'.  Then nothing more.

This isn't exactly polite but it is business-like and tends to shute people down.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: magician5 on July 16, 2013, 04:56:22 AM
Don't ask questions ("Why do you asd?" - just shut it down: "I'm not comfortable discussing things like that."
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Sharnita on July 16, 2013, 05:54:35 AM
I'd be tempted to act amazed and say "I don't think the people at St. Vinnie's/Goodwill/wherever knew that when they marked it at $3."

Now, if you were complaining about never having money and came in with a ton of designer hand bags I wouldn't blame her for an internal raised brow but since you have never indicated any financial issues she shouldn't even be thinking about it let alone verbalizing it.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Margo on July 16, 2013, 06:22:41 AM
I might try, just once saying something like "Yes, it is. You've spotted my one luxury"
If she goes on about it being a waste then something such as "It's not a waste to me. The pleasure I get from having something this beautiful / this quality is worth it to me. I of you don't feel the same than you're right that *for you* it would be a waste"

and then the next time try for a slightly bored tone and "Hyacinth, didn't we already have this conversation?"
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: bonyk on July 16, 2013, 07:04:56 AM
Hyacinth is trying to embarrass you.   I think deflecting or asking "Why do you want to know?," lets her know that you do, in fact, feel embarrassed.  You need to go on the offensive.  "None of you business," or "We don't have a relationship that makes discussing personal finances appropriate," will help take some of your power back.  Be prepared for a parting shot or two from her.  Just remain even keeled and repeat what ever line you settled on.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: MrTango on July 16, 2013, 07:08:59 AM
I could use some practice with these kinds of people myself.

Ideas:

"Did you buy it yourself?"
"Excuse me?"

"How much did you pay for that?"
"Wow, are you really asking me how much I paid for my purse?"

"You spent too much! I know those cost $XXX!!"
"You sure take an unusual interest in my spending."

I like these ideas.  Don't answer any personal questions she asks you.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: whatsanenigma on July 16, 2013, 07:11:33 AM

Hyacinth: I'm pretty sure that's X designer. Did you buy it yourself?
Me: It was a gift. So about the project...
Hyacinth: It must be nice to have your parents buy you everything. I'd never want to waste that much money on a bag. That cost $X - it's a complete waste of money.

Hyacinth has been unpleasant toward me since I met her - she once started a conversation by asking me "what's your deal", and then rapidly followed that with "what do your parents do", "where did you go to school", "where did you go to high school", "is that a private school" and "do you have a boyfriend". All normal questions, but the rapid fire questioning without giving me a chance to ask her anything in return made me feel like she was sizing me up. I also don't think that it's a matter of her being jealous - she seem to wear nice clothes and has a disposable income. Both her parents work in a lucrative field and went to fancy schools, which she never lets us forget. (Not sure why she talks about it all the time and brings it up every time she is introduced to a new person, since pretty much everyone in this environment has/is working on a graduate degree from a great school, so it's not like she's impressing us.)

She seems very concerned about everyone's parents, especially for a group of working people in their twenties.   Maybe her parents are rich but don't give her anything fancy, and she thinks your parents are rich and do give you fancy stuff all the time.  Maybe she has somehow come to the conclusion that you are a spoiled brat, who has only succeeded in life thanks to Mommy and Daddy paying for everything.

That wouldn't be fair, of course! And what your parents give you or have given you in the past is between you and them.  I am  just wondering if, if this is the angle she's coming from, there might be something more specific in terms of dealing with it, rather than just generic bean dip, etc.  I don't exactly know what that might be, but being able to operate her with some details might help.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: CharlieBraun on July 16, 2013, 07:15:10 AM
I would be of a mind to respond with outrageous and clearly absurd lines, much like Sharnita's suggestion.

"That bag costs Xx!  What a waste?"
"Yes, but this one makes fresh espresso."

"I recognize that designer!"
"Really?  Where is that guy?  Was he outside or is he in the building?"

"Where did you get that sweater?"
"Back of my closet.  Near the entry to Narnia."
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: AmethystAnne on July 16, 2013, 07:16:30 AM
June, as I was reading your OP, a thought/question came to me. I wondered if she thinks you are some kind of competition for her in some way. By bombarding you with intrusive questions, that she is trying to maintain her alpha female status over you in your age group?

Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: *inviteseller on July 16, 2013, 07:28:07 AM
Sounds like Hyacinth (last name Bucket???) is jealous and sees you as her rival.  There is no real reason why, just that she feels she is better and how dare you have anything more stylish/classy than her.  Next time she gets into interrogation mode, just look at her with boredom and say "I always thought it gauche to discuss what someone pays for something."  Then just change the subject/walk away.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: lowspark on July 16, 2013, 07:55:46 AM
My stock "answer" to what I consider nosy questions is to smile and then either turn my attention to someone else or walk away. I used to belong to a social group where there was one woman who would ask really nosy intrusive questions (including asking about how I could afford xyz, so along similar lines as what you're dealing with). I never ever replied verbally. I just smiled and then started talking to someone else.

Now, the alternative to that is to actually confront her with the very thing she is supposedly criticizing you for.

Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?
Me: Yes. I paid $500 for it! Isn't that great?
Hyacinth:  That's a complete waste of money. I'd never want to waste that much money on a bag.
Me: Too bad. I would. And did. And I'm pretty darn happy with it.

In other words, gloat. Now, normally, obviously, it's not something you would want to do. But heck, she's asking for it so I see nothing wrong with throwing it right back in her face.

And no. Absolutely Positively No Way should you stop wearing these items to the office. I'd purposely wear them and keep flaunting it. You could even make it a point to stop by her desk and let her know just how much you did pay (and pad the number if you want). Sort of head her off at the pass. I'll bet that will shut her up in short order.

There's really nothing to be ashamed of. You earn your money and it's your perogative to spend it any way you see fit. She's making you feel bad for something you shouldn't be feeling bad for. By making her realize you don't feel bad at all, and in fact are proud of how much you spent, you will completely deflate her balloon.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Redsoil on July 16, 2013, 07:58:44 AM
"I always find discussion of money very crass."  That should stop her dead in her tracks.

It's one thing if people discuss certain topics pertaining to money in a friendly fashion, but not when it spills over into judgement, one-upmanship or nosiness.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: JoyinVirginia on July 16, 2013, 08:07:14 AM
Hyacinth, what did this designer ever do to you? From your tone I can tell you hate anything by x designer.

Oh this old thing? I've had it for years, just pulled it out of the closet.

i'm so glad you like it! Can you believe I found it at exclusive consignment store?

Whenever she asks you price, act like she just complimented you. Thanks so much hyacinth, so glad you like it.

Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: msulinski on July 16, 2013, 08:26:13 AM
I agree with lowspark. If she asks about a designer, be truthful and say, "Yes, it is from designer X. Thanks for noticing." Or something along those lines. I still wouldn't mention how much I paid for it though. Don't let her make you feel ashamed for owning nice things.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Tabby Uprising on July 16, 2013, 08:34:34 AM
If she brings up the subject while you are in a meeting, you can say something like, "I chose not to participate in this survey. Thanks!" Flat out ignore any further questions she asks.  Maybe just raise your eyebrows at her and give a slight shake of the head.

You could also try a sillier approach:

Hyacinth: How much did you pay for that?
OP: One million dollars.... plus an entire herd of pink unicorns. 
Hyacinth: No, really, because I bet it was expensive.
OP: An entire herd of pink unicorns, I said! Alas dear Hyacinth, I have no more unicorns for you.  No more.

Hyacinth:  What brand of shoes are those?
OP: Oh, my elves make these.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on July 16, 2013, 08:46:48 AM
Perhaps not perfectly polite, although probably OK if you take out what is in the brackets but I think I would be responding with:  None of your [dingdangity] business.  To each and every question.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Eden on July 16, 2013, 08:56:56 AM
Now, the alternative to that is to actually confront her with the very thing she is supposedly criticizing you for.

Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?
Me: Yes. I paid $500 for it! Isn't that great?
Hyacinth:  That's a complete waste of money. I'd never want to waste that much money on a bag.
Me: Too bad. I would. And did. And I'm pretty darn happy with it.

This was something like what I was going to say. Do deflect or avoid if you can but if Hyacinth gets in a "I would never spend that." I'd respond with, "Well I would." or "Fine by me, leaves more available for me to buy." or something else. Basically emphasizing that you are not ashamed in any way.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Shoo on July 16, 2013, 08:58:48 AM
Maybe you should just say, "Not your business."
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Raina on July 16, 2013, 09:24:58 AM
One phrase I've been practicing often as I have to deal with a couple people like this is: "I don't discuss my finances with anyone other than my husband."  If you aren't married, you could certainly just shorten it to "I don't discuss my finances with anyone." and if she persists, follow it up with "No."  I practice it in front of the mirror before I have to deal with people like this  ;D

Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Judah on July 16, 2013, 09:30:04 AM
Maybe you should just say, "Not your business."

Or, "How does that concern you?" or my personal favorite, "Why would you ask such a personal question?"
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: TootsNYC on July 16, 2013, 09:32:14 AM
The moment she asks you about one of your possessions, say, "Hyacinth, I really don't want to talk about my possessions. Please stop asking."

Or quote She Who Must Be Obeyed ("Rumpole at the Bailey") and say, "The very idea! Noticing people's things!"


Oh, as for the parents thing--maybe she feels that all the good things she has came from *her* parents (which makes her feel inadequate, bcs the basic social construct is "grownups don't accept help from parents"), so if you are "winning," it must be because of your parents. And so she is attacking you on the very point that SHE feels vulnerable on.   Classic projection.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Twik on July 16, 2013, 09:38:39 AM
There's clearly some sort of insecurity going on there. I wonder if she REALLY comes from a wealthy family, or is desperately trying to make it sound so? People who come from wealth don't tend to obsess about money to the degree she does.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Hmmmmm on July 16, 2013, 09:51:20 AM
Hya: Is that bag designer X?
You: Yes
Hya: How much did you pay for it?
You: Why are you wanting one?
Hya: No, they are way to expensive for a bag.
You: Well, it sounds like you already know the cost so why are you asking me?

Hya: How much did you spend on that shirt?
You: Why?
Hya: I bet you spent X amount.
You: Hmmmm

Never justify your purchases to her. Never tell her how much you like X. She is jealous and insecure about you for some reason. Don't feed her drama.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Amara on July 16, 2013, 11:28:25 AM
Hyacinth is rude. Actually, she's beyond rude when she pursues it. So I wouldn't put up with that at all. I wouldn't deflect, bean dip or otherwise try to redirect her. Instead, I would meet her rudeness head one with the same (polite but very direct) response each time: "My personal life is just that. Personal. Have a good day."
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Diane AKA Traska on July 16, 2013, 11:34:20 AM
Seeing as how she does this primarily in front of others, I would just place my hands on my hips and say "Are we really going to go through this?  Again?"
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: TurtleDove on July 16, 2013, 11:42:28 AM
I like the suggestions of "joyfully" making it clear she's being ridiculous. Shock her with your a sure responses. I like the unicorn herd option, or a fantastical story of how you stole it from Zsa Zaa Gabor years ago.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: BarensMom on July 16, 2013, 11:45:15 AM
I agree with the previous posters who said that speculating on the cost of other people's items is rude.  My repeated response(s) would be, "I was brought up that it was bad manners to talk about money."  "I was raised that it is rude to talk about money."  "Where I come from, it is bad form to talk about other people's things." "I was taught that it is rude to comment on what something cost."

All of the above is true - it is rude to comment on the cost of what someone else owns or to make any mention of another person's finances.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Cami on July 16, 2013, 11:55:34 AM
I had a coworker about 30 years ago who was aggressively intrusive with his questions about personal matters. These included asking what you did after you left work the day before -- so these questions were daily.

 If you responded with, "Why do you ask?" He would cheerfully respond, "Because I'm curious! Now tell me." He would literally follow you around pestering you for an answer. He once stood outside the ladies room door waiting for another coworker to get out so he could keep pestering her.

The only way I found to shut him down was to use this scenario:

"Why do you ask?"
"Because I'm curious!"
"Well, curiosity killed the cat."  And then refuse to answer any more questions.

FTR, he never learned to stop asking the intital question in the 4 years I knew him. I just learned to ignore him and eventually, he would wander away, perplexed about why I was so "mean". The people who didn't ignore him suffered the constant pestering during their entire employment.

In retrospect, I wonder about his intelligence level since even a dog will stop bugging you if it doesn't get what it wants.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: TurtleDove on July 16, 2013, 11:57:26 AM
"Hah! What an obnoxious thing to ask!"

"I love this bag too! It's not for sale though!"

Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: nayberry on July 16, 2013, 12:06:18 PM
tell her you got it at a thrift store
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Zizi-K on July 16, 2013, 12:09:20 PM
When I got engaged, I had people have the nerve to ask me "Oh, how many carats is it?" or "How much did it cost?" Luckily, with an engagement ring, you can plausibly say that you don't know. I would say, "Oh, I'm not sure, Fiance didn't tell me. But I just love it, blah blah blah!"

With this woman, I would just be direct because it sounds so persistent and annoying. "You know, Sally, I have to say that I find it super weird and really intrusive that you always ask about my belongings, their cost and origin. Those things are none of your business, and I don't believe your opinion of my purchases is any of my business. So, in the future, when you ask me questions like that, I'm just not going to answer them. I'm just letting you know now so if I don't respond to you in the future, you know why."
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: goldilocks on July 16, 2013, 12:14:28 PM
My mother does something similar, and it's a little bit hard to ignore her.  For background, I've worked since I was 16, and saved money.  She's never worked and has blown through the money my dad left her.  I ususally don't tell her when I buy something, of course sometimes it's unavoidable.

So, she'll say "Is that an designer X bag? (logo is pretty distinctive)?  Well, it must be nice!"
ME:  It is.

HER:  It this new furniture?  Must be nice.
ME:  It is.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: CrazyDaffodilLady on July 16, 2013, 12:16:04 PM
Tell her nothing.  Just toss it back at her.  You can have a lot of fun doing this.

Hyacinth: How much did that cost?
June24: I just knew you were going to ask that question.
Hyacinth: So how much did it cost?
June24: I even knew you'd ask twice.
Hyacinth: How much did it cost?
June24: You must really want to know to ask three times.
Hyacinth: Tell me how much it cost.
June24: Don't you have something similar?  How much did that cost?
Hyacinth: I DO NOT have one like that, and I want you to tell me how much yours cost.
June 24: Oh, I really thought you had one like it.
Hyacinth: NO I DON'T and that's why I want to know how much yours cost.
June 24: Thank you for asking.  As they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. 

I could keep this up all day, and Hyacinth would never learn how much my item cost. 
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Kaypeep on July 16, 2013, 12:24:49 PM
How tedious to deal with someone like this.  I'd call them out on their rudeness but in a "fun" way. 

CW:  What brand of shoes are you wearing?
ME:  Oh!  Is this that game where I answer your question and then you complain and try to make me feel guilty or something, by recounting how expensive my shoes are and what a big waste of money they are, or how it must be nice for me to be able to afford Brand Name items, yada yada?  Yeah, I'm not going to fall for THAT again!  Nice try!  "A" for Effort, though! hahahahahahah" (and then walk away laughing WITH her, not at her.)
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: snowdragon on July 16, 2013, 12:29:17 PM
I had a coworker about 30 years ago who was aggressively intrusive with his questions about personal matters. These included asking what you did after you left work the day before -- so these questions were daily.

 If you responded with, "Why do you ask?" He would cheerfully respond, "Because I'm curious! Now tell me." He would literally follow you around pestering you for an answer. He once stood outside the ladies room door waiting for another coworker to get out so he could keep pestering her.

The only way I found to shut him down was to use this scenario:

"Why do you ask?"
"Because I'm curious!"
"Well, curiosity killed the cat."  And then refuse to answer any more questions.

FTR, he never learned to stop asking the intital question in the 4 years I knew him. I just learned to ignore him and eventually, he would wander away, perplexed about why I was so "mean". The people who didn't ignore him suffered the constant pestering during their entire employment.

In retrospect, I wonder about his intelligence level since even a dog will stop bugging you if it doesn't get what it wants.
[/quote

You met the male version of my ex-coworker, Linda. Linda had a primary co-worker ( the one she worked with most often) who was also her victim for this type of intrusiveness.
  Linda would ask Andi what she did that night, or over the weekend and who she was with, ect. If Andi told her - and Linda did not approve,  Linda would make scathing comments about Andi's character and morality ( ie "You rode in a car with a man, I had no idea you were that loose." and she was totally serious about it.) Andi was helping to raise her niece and nephew's while her brother was in Afghanistan - so that made Andi "gay" and in Linda's world view this was a major sin. If Andi should tell her to that she wanted to keep her private life private ( and I heard her do so, her first day of work)  Linda would complain to the higher ups and Andi would hear about how "Linda was just being friendly and Andi needed to be nicer, Andi could share something from her life with Linda." So when Andi finally turned on Linda and told her that these things were not her business and she had no call making judgments like that and spreading them around, she really did not feel badly about Linda's "hurt feelings"
  It came to a head when they ran into each other while shopping, and Linda made nasty comments to Andi - in front of the kids. Andi told her off and Linda went in the next morning and complained, conveniently leaving out that this happened off work grounds and out of work hours. Andi pitched a fit and one of the other staff who had been witness to much of this came up to back her.
  Things never improved with Andi and Linda, and Andi left after about 3 years...even more reticent to get involved with the people she works with than ever.
  How do I know all this? Andi is one of my closest friends, and we worked together at this place. I saw much of this first hand. 
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: rose red on July 16, 2013, 12:38:33 PM
tell her you got it at a thrift store

I'm sorry, but I can never understand why anyone would feel the need to downplay their stuff.  Now if I got a designer bag for $3 at a thrift store, I would obnoxiously brag about it to my friends (not coworkers unless we're close because it's none of their business.)  However, if I paid full price because I worked and saved up or even given gift money, I'm not going to brag, but I'm also not going to lie to make others feel better; like I should be ashamed.

The OP shouldn't even have to say where she got it (whether thrift store or LaFancyStore) or how much she paid.  I would give a cold look and say "I don't discuss personal finances." or "That is my own business." or one of the other phases PP's have suggested.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: DottyG on July 16, 2013, 12:46:49 PM
Sounds like Hyacinth (last name Bucket???)

"The BOUQUET residence!  Lady of the house speaking!"

http://youtu.be/xTQjT8r6dLE

CharlieBraun said
Quote
I would be of a mind to respond with outrageous and clearly absurd lines, much like Sharnita's suggestion.

"That bag costs Xx!  What a waste?"
"Yes, but this one makes fresh espresso."

"I recognize that designer!"
"Really?  Where is that guy?  Was he outside or is he in the building?"

"Where did you get that sweater?"
"Back of my closet.  Near the entry to Narnia."

I like this!  Might as well have fun with it.  And it would keep things from being awkward for the bystanders as well.

Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Pen^2 on July 16, 2013, 12:47:19 PM
It might be worth trying this, courtesy of Moss from The IT Crowd (warning: loud initial music from the theme song):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abE1vThQMyI (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abE1vThQMyI)
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: lowspark on July 16, 2013, 12:51:53 PM
tell her you got it at a thrift store

I'm sorry, but I can never understand why anyone would feel the need to downplay their stuff.  Now if I got a designer bag for $3 at a thrift store, I would obnoxiously brag about it to my friends (not coworkers unless we're close because it's none of their business.)  However, if I paid full price because I worked and saved up or even given gift money, I'm not going to brag, but I'm also not going to lie to make others feel better; like I should be ashamed.

The OP shouldn't even have to say where she got it (whether thrift store or LaFancyStore) or how much she paid.  I would give a cold look and say "I don't discuss personal finances." or "That is my own business." or one of the other phases PP's have suggested.

I agree 100% with the bolded. Again, you have nothing to be ashamed about so quit letting her make you feel ashamed. Your money, your choices. That's why you should neither quit wearing these things to work nor lie about where you bought them or how much you paid.

Regardless of which route you take to deal with this, the one thing I think you should take to heart is to not let her get into your head. Quit letting her make you feel bad for buying these things.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Amara on July 16, 2013, 01:09:14 PM
Whatever you choose to do, OP, make sure you can live with it for a long time. If you put her off with any kind of explanation or make a game out of your non-answers she is likely to keep pestering you without relief. I still think you need to stop it now and then refuse to even slow down as you pass her, silently, in the future.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: LadyL on July 16, 2013, 01:10:12 PM
Since this is someone you work with, they are not entitled to your attention so that they can make small talk, never mind harangue you about your purchases.

I would retort with "Do you have a work related question?"

If it's clear the answer is "no," I would either turn back to your desk and say "I need to get back to work then" or get up and walk away and say "I need to go pick up copies in the copier."

If she gives you any further trouble despite this (i.e. complaining you are "unfriendly" to coworkers or whatever) I would mention offhandedly to your/her supervisor that "Hyacinth seems very interested in my personal finances, and continues to ask about it even after I've told her to stop. I just wanted to give you a heads up that this is causing tension between us and was wondering if you have any other suggestion to deal with it."
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: ThistleBird on July 16, 2013, 01:17:18 PM
EvilThistlebird is whispering the highschool approach in my ear...

Hyacinth: Where did you get that bag?
June24: Wow, why are you so obsessed with where I got my stuff? This is the third time this week you've asked me that. It's like an obsession with you, isn't it? Have you ever been, y'know, tested? You know, you might have [psychological issue of your choice]. I really think you should look into it.

And then no matter what she responds with, you pursue the line of questioning, suggesting as a concerned acquaintance that her behavior is odd and for her own good she should look into seeing a psychologist. (In front of other people.)

Um... I'll try to get EvilThistlebird back in her cage, now, K?
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: nayberry on July 16, 2013, 01:20:01 PM
tell her you got it at a thrift store

I'm sorry, but I can never understand why anyone would feel the need to downplay their stuff.  Now if I got a designer bag for $3 at a thrift store, I would obnoxiously brag about it to my friends (not coworkers unless we're close because it's none of their business.)  However, if I paid full price because I worked and saved up or even given gift money, I'm not going to brag, but I'm also not going to lie to make others feel better; like I should be ashamed.

The OP shouldn't even have to say where she got it (whether thrift store or LaFancyStore) or how much she paid.  I would give a cold look and say "I don't discuss personal finances." or "That is my own business." or one of the other phases PP's have suggested.

I agree 100% with the bolded. Again, you have nothing to be ashamed about so quit letting her make you feel ashamed. Your money, your choices. That's why you should neither quit wearing these things to work nor lie about where you bought them or how much you paid.

Regardless of which route you take to deal with this, the one thing I think you should take to heart is to not let her get into your head. Quit letting her make you feel bad for buying these things.

i was more thinking of it as a way to shut her up than downplaying the item.

i've outright lied when asked how much things cost, normally in a very exaggerated way so they know i'm lying, "oh this? i made it" or "it cost me a years wages but primarni stuff is worth the sacrifice" (primarni = primark, cheap and cheerful UK store)
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: lowspark on July 16, 2013, 02:05:47 PM
Yeah, I can kinda see that. But to be effective I would think it would need to be something totally out of the realm of possibility so that it's plainly obvious that the response is sarcastic.

Something like, "aliens beamed it down to me" or "it was handed to me by the Lady of the Lake (in a farcical aquatic ceremony)" or some such.

Because to me, saying you bought it at the thrift store just validates the offender's belief that the item isn't worth the amount it would normally cost.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: lilfox on July 16, 2013, 04:03:08 PM
Hyacinth is clearly trying to put the OP on the defensive, because the defensive position is always weaker.  To my mind, the only solution is not to play, don't even pick up the rope and avoid the superiority dance.  I had to learn this for handling a CW who plays the game in a slightly different way but the same basic "I'm the alpha" approach.  Before, I noticed I ended up justifying my position for no reason other than the CW kept attacking what I was saying.  But I never was able to satisfy the cross-examination because the CW's point wasn't to get a better justification, it was to keep me on the defensive.  I realized, I don't need to keep responding to CW.  There's no point to it, so I don't play.

I vote for bland and non-committal as the way to go.  If you respond with bored disinterest, but a half-smile and brief eye contact before returning to what you were doing, that should take some of the wind out of her sails.  It's like expressing that you acknowledge she spoke to you, but you're just not available for conversation at the moment (ever). After all, whatever you were doing before she spoke up has got to be more interesting than having another prickly conversation with her, right?  She might consider you stand-offish, but isn't that a win?

Hyacinth: <any comment that could lead to a negative conversation>
"Hmm?"  (I wasn't listening, and I don't think I missed anything)
"Oh, I don't know." (not interested in having this conversation)
"I don't remember, actually." (still not interested in having this conversation)
"Okay then." (yep, she's still talking)
"Sorry, I'm trying to focus on this." (work is calling, gotta answer)

and the classic:  "So you've said."
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: veronaz on July 16, 2013, 04:05:18 PM
"Did you buy it yourself?" -- "Why do you ask?"
"How much did that cost?" -- "Why do you ask?"

Odds are she'll say something like, "I'm just asking" and you can say "Oh really?" and then immediately bean dip.

This.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Jaelle on July 16, 2013, 04:38:33 PM
"That's really none of your business!"

Said cheerfully and with a smile.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Captain Hastings on July 16, 2013, 04:48:33 PM
I think I would just start making stuff up.

"Is that Designer X?"
"No, I made it myself."
"No you didn't, I recognize that brand! How much did it cost?"
"One million dollars."
"You shouldn't waste your money!"
"But I need a matching bag for every car I own, all twelve of 'em."
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Twik on July 16, 2013, 05:27:28 PM
EvilTwik suggests starting to say something, and then murmuring, "I'm sorry, I was brought up that one should never discuss money in polite company."

It may take her half an hour to figure out you implied she was rude.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Eeep! on July 16, 2013, 05:50:10 PM
Here's my suggestion:

"Is that bag by Designer X?"
"Yes, yes it is!" (Said with relish.)
"How much did it cost you?"
"Oh not much, just my soul" [insert evil laugh]

And if she persists, just default to the evil laugh:
No really, how much?
[evil laugh]
How much?
[Evil laugh]
 >:D
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: JenJay on July 16, 2013, 07:46:41 PM
Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?

You: I'm really not interested in discussing the price and provenance of my belongings with you. How about that local bean dip team then?

This is what I'd do. You know that the only reason why she asks you anything is to get around to how much it cost and then make a nasty comment about it. I'd cut her off before she gets started. In fact, I probably wouldn't even change the subject in an attempt to diffuse the awkwardness, I'd just say the first part and then walk away.  ;)
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Jocelyn on July 16, 2013, 09:57:02 PM
Evil Me would say 'Oh, I got it at that thrift shop over in City X (name a town at a goodly distance from where we are). That one on Main street, that has all the great buys. I go over there several times a month, because they have all this great designer stuff at rock bottom prices. This Coach purse was only $5, can you believe it? The biggest bargains, I swear.'

It should go without saying that there is no great little thrift shop in City X. But she can spend her weekends trying to find it.  >:D
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: KenveeB on July 16, 2013, 10:24:22 PM
Anytime I get asked how much something cost (and it's not one of the rare times it's actually appropriate to the situation), I put my pinkie finger to my lips and say in my best Dr. Evil voice, "One million dollars!"
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: LifeOnPluto on July 16, 2013, 10:24:38 PM
I'd say (sweetly), "Oh hon, it's not good form to discuss money". (I might also be tempted to add "Didn't your parents ever teach you that?")
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Marguette on July 17, 2013, 12:19:41 AM
H: “How much, bla, bla,”
J: [attempt at bean dip]
H: “No seriously, it costs $BigAmount. I would never spend that!”
J: [with hearty enthusiasm, as though it’s a compliment] “I’ll bet you wouldn’t!”
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: VorFemme on July 17, 2013, 09:58:11 AM
"I didn't ask where the person who gave this to me got it or how much they paid."

Even if I gave it to myself....

Except for the one Coach bag I found at the Goodwill near DD's house and she promptly bought it from me to make SURE that it was hers to keep...it was less than $7 USA, with the taxes.

I found another bag that was a bit larger made of Italian leather (according to the tag sewn into the striped lining) earlier this year that looks to be unused - I just haven't gone anywhere where I am dressed up enough to carry an Italian leather bag....I keep looking for a little bit larger Coach bag (I don't recognize most "designer" names - I'm not much of a fashionista at fifty-plus, I'm more about what I like and what is comfortable).  And holds the "stuff" that I want to have on hand while I'm out & about.

Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: snowfire on July 17, 2013, 10:24:02 AM
I rather like: "Well, bless your heart. Didn't your Mama teach you it isn't polite to ask about finances."  Said in a pitying tone.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: June24 on July 17, 2013, 12:24:10 PM
Thanks everyone for the great advice! I'll try out some of these and let you know how it goes!
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Julian on July 17, 2013, 04:05:29 PM
My dear old grandmother used to say "Money and fine words" whenever somebody asked her the price of something.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Janice on July 17, 2013, 04:17:59 PM
I like the silly approach myself. If enough bystanders start laughing, Hyacinth may get the hint that she's being ridiculous. Or not. At any rate, it makes her terrible manners amusing rather embarrassing to everyone around her.

Evil Janice would try looking puzzled and saying "Cost? Money is the root of all evil. I only use the barter system."

And when pressed, go into to the pink unicorns story, or say something like "No, really! I bartered 10 YEARS worth of Christmas cookies for this!"
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: scotcat60 on July 17, 2013, 04:52:31 PM
My dear old grandmother used to say "Money and fine words" whenever somebody asked her the price of something

My dear old Dad used to reply on similar lines "Money and fair words" if asked the price of something.

Hyacinth tells you you have wated your money, just say, "Really? I don't think I have. Now, isn't it great that Andy Murray won the Men's singles championship at Wimbledon"
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: baglady on July 17, 2013, 07:37:03 PM
I like the facetious response idea. The more hyperbolic the better:

H: How much did you pay for it?
OP: A million dollars.
H: No, really, how much?
OP: Told ya. Million bucks. At Goodwill. It was a steal -- they're 3 million at Lord & Taylor.
H: No, I'm serious! I want to know!
OP: You're serious? Really? I'm sorry, I didn't realize that, because in my house growing up, asking someone what they paid for something was punishable by death. ::Sniffle:: I still miss Nosy Aunt Sylvia ....
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: starry diadem on July 18, 2013, 01:10:17 AM
Personally, I'd pre-empt her.

And by that, I mean that every time I had something new at work, i'd mention it before she could. Big, big smile and cheerful tone, and a "Good morning, Hyacinth. Now, I know you're always interested in the cost of the things I buy... this item is new. I got it at ThisShop for around X price and I'm perfectly happy with what I spent on it.  Isn't it pretty? Now, i'd better get back to that bean dip project..." Bigger smile and walk away.

Do that every single time.  The game's then yours and she'll soon give up if she realises she won't get a rise out of you.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: HappilyInsane on July 18, 2013, 03:50:08 PM
I have been known to tell people who act like Hyacinth, that since their name does not appear on either my marriage license or my birth certificate, they get no say so in how I live my life or spend my money. And that is the reason I need to spend much more time here.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: BarensMom on July 19, 2013, 12:06:50 PM
How about the tried and true, "I honestly don't remember" everytime she asks? 
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: ThornyRose2000 on July 19, 2013, 01:10:41 PM
Any time anyone asks me the cost of something that I've purchased, I always tell them it cost me "dollars and cents".  It's nobody's business what I purchase let alone how much it costs.  I think I would tell her to MYOB and be done with the nonsense. 
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: dinvancouver on July 19, 2013, 02:32:41 PM
Hyacinth: Is that bag from X designer?
Me: No Thank you. (said with a big smile and a cheery tone)

Then turn to something/someone else. This is my go-to answer for anything nosy. Well, when I'm on the ball anyway  :P

This is a polite reply, so one one can accuse you of being rude. But it completely derails the other person. Unless Hyacinth is like the person who didn't even hear the reply of "the wall fell down"  you can escape while she is tying to get back on track.

This also gets you out of having to do a lot a mental work - unless you like the idea of saying something cost a million dollars and a pink sparkly unicorn. If I had a pink sparkly unicorn I wouldn't sell it for ANYTHING.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Roe on July 19, 2013, 03:00:30 PM
I don't understand why posters are trying to come up with creative ways to ignore her questioning when "it's none of your business" should suffice.  Repeat as necessary.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Redsoil on July 20, 2013, 07:13:01 AM
Thought of another one: 

"I wonder why you think it's appropriate to ask people such things?"

Could be useful if she simply will not stop asking.  If she says something along the lines of "I just like to know", then you can say "Well it's NOT appropriate, and it needs to stop."
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: ClaireC79 on July 20, 2013, 09:37:29 AM
more than a can of coke, less than my car
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Pen^2 on July 20, 2013, 09:46:48 AM
more than a can of coke, less than my car

This reminds me of that engagement ring sketch from A Bit of Fry and Laurie :)

Laurie: "How much is it?"
Fry: "I would be wrong to let it go for more than forty thousand of pounds... but I would be equally at fault if I let it go for less than ninety."
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: Zilla on July 21, 2013, 11:16:19 AM
I agree with others, instead of creative responses I would do a direct one.  I don't like to discuss financial matters, anyhow back to this project...  And if she insists, just stare at her like she grew another head.  Then ignore her.
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: IceCreamTEA on July 21, 2013, 11:23:49 AM


I like to use 'Oh it cost me an arm and a leg'
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: TheaterDiva1 on July 21, 2013, 04:39:35 PM
How about the tried and true, "I honestly don't remember" everytime she asks?

That's my favorite - and in my case, I wouldn't be lying... It's not like I carry around a spreadsheet listing everything I buy and the cost!  Who keeps track?!?

And those of you advising the OP to point out how rude Hyancinth is - hasn't it been said on here that that in itself is rude?
Title: Re: You paid HOW much for THAT?
Post by: baglady on July 21, 2013, 07:57:31 PM
How about the tried and true, "I honestly don't remember" everytime she asks?

That's my favorite - and in my case, I wouldn't be lying... It's not like I carry around a spreadsheet listing everything I buy and the cost!  Who keeps track?!?

And those of you advising the OP to point out how rude Hyancinth is - hasn't it been said on here that that in itself is rude?

That's why I like the pass-the-buck (no pun intended) approach: "Sorry, my mom taught me it's not nice to talk about what things cost with anyone outside the family." Hyacinth is as likely to think, "Her family's weird!" as she is to think, "She just called me rude!" And given Hyacinth's general cluelessness, I'm guessing it would be the former. At least she might be less inclined to pursue this line of conversation with OP in the future.