(Morning, busy office. People are running around prepping for an event.)
(I unfurl two tablecloths and inspect them. Administrative Assistant, Brownie, wearing a maxi dress with not-matching hot pink sweater, walks by with an arm full of catalogues.)
Brownie: (speaking in a baby voice) Ooo, dose are nice. What'er they for?
Me: (rushing) They are going to be table covers for [a big event]. I'm in charge of the volunteers selling merchandise and we added an extra table...soooo, I needed another tablecloth. (starts to exit)
Brownie: (normal voice) I have a black tablecloth if you need one.
Me: I don't. Thank you, but I think I'm fine with these ones. They need to match.
Brownie: Mine is nice. It's, I think, 6 or 8 feet. Though, maybe it's 9--
Me: I'm okay. I don't need it. But thanks for the offer.
Brownie: I got it a few months ago for the office, you know, just in case we need it for stuff like baby showers or office parties--
Me: Thank you but no thank you. (exits)
(An hour later. Co-worker Mabel comes to my desk. I'm typing furiously on my computer.)
Mabel: (hushed) What did you do to Brownie?
Me: Did I do something?
Mabel: She said she was trying to help you and you just walked away.
Me: What? This morning? She was asking if I needed a tablecloth and I didn't need one.
Mabel: Well, maybe you should apologize. She's working very hard you know.
(I go visit Brownie's desk. She's pouting whilst eating yogurt.)
Me: Hi Brownie. Sorry if I was short with you this morning.
Brownie: (mouth full of yogurt) I was just trying to tell you about my tablecloth and you didn't care!
Me: I told you I didn't need your tablecloth but thank you for offering.
Brownie: I was trying to be helpful and you didn't even want to hear what I had to say. I'm dealing with all these expense reports and I have to do Mary's transmittal forms and I don't even have time to take a lunch. I was here this morning at 6:30 just so I could catch up on emails and reply to voicemails.
Me: Tell me about your tablecloth.
Brownie: If you don't want to hear about it you don't have to hear about it. I'll tell somebody who will listen.
Me: Well, I don't want to hear about it, but if you want to tell me about it I will stand here and listen.
Brownie: That's okay. It's a really great tablecloth though. You're missing out.
Me: (mustering every bit of energy to look happy) Is it plain black?
Brownie: Yes. It's great and no one has used it yet and it cost, like (whispering) $300. I think it's 6 or 8 feet--.