Author Topic: Friend is annoyed with my answer to small talk questions of where I am from...  (Read 9352 times)

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StareDecisis

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My dear friend of 20+ years and I recently took a vacation together.  While overall it was lovely, something has been nagging at me ever since, and I would like unbiased opinions as to whether I am legitimately annoyed, or if I am being irrational :) 

Background:  She lives in a major city, and takes GREAT pride in being an urban dweller, to the point where she can be disparaging about people who live in the suburbs or, heaven forbid, rural areas.  I live in the outskirts of a major city in another state.  My area is slightly more urban than a stereotypical suburb, but it is definitely not urban (my mailing address is a town, not the major city).  I am finding it hard to explain without naming the exact area, but essentially I live in the very outskirts of "MajorCity Metro area" and while there is a train I can take to the downtown of MajorCity, it is inconvenient and I find it much easier to drive.  Basically, I am within 30 minutes of downtown if I don't hit traffic.  We both grew up in an area that was suburban, tending toward the more rural side of suburban, and I know she is proud of herself that she moved alone to her city.

While traveling, I find it common that fellow travelers will ask "So, where are you from?" in making small talk.  As these are people who seem perfectly nice, but have no real need to know, I generally say "MajorCity" or "Outside of MajorCity."  There is no reason, in my opinion, to engage in a lengthy description of where I live in answer to a stranger who honestly is unlikely to either know exactly what I am talking about unless he/she had been to this area, and probably doesn't really care that much about the answer. 

If she is around for these exchanges (think either waiting to board a plane, eating breakfast at a B&B, getting drinks at the hotel bar, etc.), she immediately interjects "No, you're not!  You live in a SUBURB!!!! *I* ACTUALLY live in a CITY, and it is NOT the SAME!!"  In response to this, in order to lessen the awkwardness, I say something to the effect of "Yes, that's right!" with a cheery smile, and then change the subject.  She particularly takes umbrage when I say "MajorCity," and is very keen to correct the stranger and everyone within earshot that I do NOT live in the city, and I am NOT urban, and she is MUCH more urban. 

Frankly, I find this weird and childish.  I am not sure why it matters so much to her, but it happened often enough that it clearly is a big deal to her (it happened every.single.time, not just, say, when she had had a drink or was trying to impress a particular stranger).  I love her dearly, and I would like a way to address this without being overly hostile.  I did not bring it up at the time because I didn't want to potentially cause a scene, and then I didn't bring it up while we were traveling in case it ended up being a big issue and would dampen the rest of our trip, and now I fear I have waited so long that it will be strange to bring it up. 

So, if you have read this far, thank you!  My questions are:

1)  Would you find this annoying?

2) Should I address this with her, or just let it go?  If I should address it, do you have any suggestions as to how I can do so? 

onyonryngs

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Your friend is being nutty.  I would find that extremely annoying.  I think most people in any major city suburb say they're from major city as it's easier to explain.  I would tell her that she's overreacting and you just say it for convenience. 

cabbagegirl28

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I would find her behavior really annoying. I would tell her, "Look, I don't know why you feel the need to "correct" me on where I live. I'm saying *MajorCity* because it's easier. It's not got anything in the world to do with you."


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flyers75

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I do this too. Mainly b/c no one will have ever heard of the little town of my residence, but almost everyone has heard of the town next door. Mostly b/c there is a very big university there.

Perhaps what you could say to your friend is something like "It hurts my feelings and makes me feel as though I'm being belittled when you correct me in front of strangers." You could even go a bit further, if you wish, by saying "The only reason I say I live in Major City is because most people will have heard of it. I don't consider it a big deal to say I'm from there and I would prefer it if you didn't correct me in front of people."



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WillyNilly

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Your friend is nuts.

I live in NYC, which in my opinion is the greatest city the world over, and I'm quite city proud. 

When I went to Vegas with my friend from Nassau County, a suburb to the east of NYC, I pretty much expected she'd say she was from NYC as small talk.  Not because NYC is better then her town and she should be ashamed or town-proud, but because lets face it, most people outside of the NY-metro area don't really know the suburbs and its small talk.

Judah

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I agree with the others that your friend is nutty and I'd be annoyed because, A) what possible difference could it make to her, and B) I always say I'm from Closest Major City because no one has ever heard of MySmallTown and it would leave to more conversation than most people want to engage in when their just having small talk.  If the person I'm small-talking with turns out to be familiar with my area, I might get more specific.

Your friend is making herself look kooky.
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ettiquit

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I live in a suburb of my state's capital.  My mailing address is not the state capital, but for simplicity sake, I always say that's where I live. 

Your friend is a big city snob. 

Tea Drinker

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Yes, your friend is being unreasonable. To the point where I'd not only tell her that I find it obnoxious, but be tempted to start saying "I'm from a town you never heard of near $friend's much cooler and more impressive location," and smile. Alternatively, wait until she catches her breath and ask her, in front of everyone, why she seems to take it personally that I'm telling people I'm from someplace they've heard of.

I do live in Major City, but while I might respond to someone else saying they're from Major City with "hey, so am I. I wonder if we live near each other" or "Cool, so do I, where?" if they said "oh, actually it's Nearby Suburb" I wouldn't be dismissive. (I might be doing mental calculations of whether that was nearby in transit terms, but that's different; there are places within Major City that take longer for me to get to than other places in some suburbs.)
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Lynn2000

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I agree your friend is being weird about it. I do a similar thing to you depending on who I'm talking to. I think it's actually much more awkward to burden a stranger with your exact geographical location--either the description gets long-winded and boring, or they're left confused about a fairly simple question, or something like that. You start by answering "Chicago" (for example), and then if it turns out they know Chicago, you clarify that you're actually in a suburb or a few miles away or something like that.

I would probably wait until it happens again, and then when you're alone start with something like, "Why did you correct me when that guy asked where I lived?" Just kind of curious, like you can't fathom what she was up to. I expect her answer would be something like, "Because you DON'T live in Chicago, you live in Suburb!" And then you could be like, "Um... so? I didn't think the guy had ever heard of Suburb, so telling him that wouldn't answer his question. What's the big deal?"

It sounds like it's probably an attitude like you described, that she thinks she's better because she "really" lives in the big city. But I've also known people who were kind of obsessed with accuracy, even in small talk situations, and they might have corrected me just because I wasn't being precise enough for them. In which case my response to them would be more like, "Please don't correct my answer to a question someone asked me, that has nothing to do with you." Actually that kind of works here, too.
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Margo

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Quote
So, if you have read this far, thank you!  My questions are:

1)  Would you find this annoying?

2) Should I address this with her, or just let it go?  If I should address it, do you have any suggestions as to how I can do so?

1) Yes, very. And I'd find it annoying if I were the stranger you're making small talk with, too.

2) If you're likely to be travelling with her again, yes. I think I'd use a variation on Flyer75's wording maybe
Quote
"The only reason I say I live in Major City is because most people will are more likely to have heard of it. I don't consider it a big deal to say I'm from there and  I would prefer it if you didn't it's not appropriate for you to correct me in front of people."

Regardless of why she makes these comments, (althougb it sounds to me as though she's really insecure) 'correcting' someone in public  like that is incredibly rude.

Another approach would be to ask her, in private, why she feels the need to 'correct' you like this - point out that it it likely to make the person you're talking to embarrassed, that it appears very rude, and that she seems unusually concerned about a fairly minor matter.

I live in a smallish town. If I'm talking to someone who lives locally (i.e.within the asme county) I'll say "I live in SmallTown". If I'm any further afield I'll say "I live just outside LargerAndWellKnownCity" and in a foreign country I'll usually go for "I live in England", and then be more explicit if anyone asks. I think this is fairly normal.



Slartibartfast

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I say "I grew up in Wisconsin" because my city WAS the big city (a whopping 35K people) and nobody has ever heard of it.  Going to Green Bay was a big deal, even though it was only 45 minutes away - I got to go to the mall in Green Bay to buy a prom dress, for example.  45 minutes always seemed like a huge distance because nowhere else took more than ten minutes to get to.

Now I live in a city people have actually heard of, which is UNlike the state around us in many ways, so I'm careful to say "I'm from MyCity, MyState" instead of just "MyState" because people have very different connotations of the two.  And 45 minutes is now a pretty standard estimate for "get across town during rush hour."  Even so, my city is less than 200K people, so someone in a REAL big city probably thinks I'm still small-town.  I'm fine with that  ;D

baritone108

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I agree with everyone else, your friend is rude and you should be annoyed.  You might answer the small talk question about where you are from with, "the Major City area". 

MyFamily

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Your friend is being obnoxious, but if you wanted to, you could always say 'I live in a suburb of City X' - also small talk, not getting into any major details, and it will stop your obnoxious friend from having to say something.


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Tea Drinker

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Yes, your friend is being unreasonable. To the point where I'd not only tell her that I find it obnoxious, but be tempted to start saying "I'm from a town you never heard of near $friend's much cooler and more impressive location," and smile. Alternatively, wait until she catches her breath and ask her, in front of everyone, why she seems to take it personally that I'm telling people I'm from someplace they've heard of.

I do live in Major City, but while I might respond to someone else saying they're from Major City with "hey, so am I. I wonder if we live near each other" or "Cool, so do I, where?" if they said "oh, actually it's Nearby Suburb" I wouldn't be dismissive. (I might be doing mental calculations of whether that was nearby in transit terms, but that's different; there are places within Major City that take longer for me to get to than other places in some suburbs.)
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Sharnita

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OK, I'm dying to know which city in Wisconsin. ( I lived in the UP for 5 years and was probably closer to your hometown than mine during that time.)

You know, there are a couple of situations where this type of thing would be annoying, though certainly not in OP's case.

I do know of a few cases where people who live near a big city will claim it even though they never go there.  Now obviously OP does but if she lived 30 minutes away but avoided it like the plague and showed no connection or interest at other times, I could see where it might be annoying.

There is also the case of saying somebody else lives in Big City when they live in the area/live close but don't actually live in it.  I think that depending where you are in Michigan can affect where "in Detroit" is.  For some people who live up north, anything south of Saginaw is "in Detroit".  For others it starts in Pontiac.  However, I know there are people who would probably be annoyed at being described as living "in Detroit" because they are a mile, a few miles, several miles away from the city limits fo Detroit. Yet for those further away their is just this glob in the state that is seen as "Detroit",