Finish that sentence however you would like to, but there’s something that I’ve just got to get off my chest, something people do that for some reason really, really irks me. It’s kind of small and probably not at all inappropriate, but for me, at least, it sounds incredibly patronizing, especially when you begin to hear it…all the time.
“Can I get a rain check?”
First of all, that is one of the stupidest, tritest, most cliched phrases ever. It makes no sense in 99% of contexts. The original concept of the phrase (yes, I’m irked enough to look it up) comes from a baseball idiom that originated around the turn of the twentieth century. It referred to when a game was rained out (this is before the era of enclosed stadiums, obviously), and those who bought tickets were entitled to go to another game sometime in the future on a day when it does not rain. That actually makes sense. The term eventually expanded to include other outdoor ticketed sporting events or outdoor events in general, such as concerts. These days, however, people just throw around the term even when there is no ticketed event or precipitation involved.
For example, if you invite someone over for dinner or out for coffee or something, and they cancel with that phrase, it makes me feel like I’ve entered into some sort of unwritten social contract with them. As in, since for whatever reason they cannot or don’t want to accept my invitation, they assume that I am going to ask them again in the future, which may or may not happen; in fact, if you ask for a rain check, it is probably less likely to happen. Again, I don’t know why, but it just feels like another way of saying “Umm…I really don’t want to hang out with you, like, at all, ever, and I’m saying it in the nicest possible way it sounds in my head,” or “Well, okay, we can do it another time, but when it’s more convenient for me and obviously less convenient for you.”
Second of all, the more you hear it, the worse it gets. I find that there’s only so much I can handle of that damn phrase. I once had dinner plans that went on for three whole weeks with someone. We were going to have dinner together on a Wednesday night, which was the only night both of us had free time at that point in our lives. The first time, it was actually raining really hard that day (or possibly snowing, since it was in February), so I didn’t mind it that much. The next week, the text came like this “I have a family thing that just came up, can I get a rain check?” A little more annoying, but I said OK. The next week, maybe an hour or two before we were supposed to meet at the restaurant, I got a text saying “rain check 4 2day.” As in, I don’t care enough to text using full words, and since we’ve done it the last two weeks, why not a third? (Apropos of nothing, but the next Wednesday, which we were trying for a fourth time, I didn’t get a text or call, but instead went to the restaurant and waited two whole hours with this person pulling out excuse after lame excuse for being “give me a half-hour” or “just ten more minutes.” Needless to say, that friendship ended that night and I ended up going downtown to a party that was happening that ended up triggering some awesome things for me, but that’s another story).
The absolute worst is when you get it as a response to an open invitation. As in, posting something on Facebook like “Hey, I don’t have dinner plans tomorrow night, who wants to come over?” or “Who wants to go do karaoke tonight?” For the former, someone actually responded with the audacity of “rain check?” Basically, what that says to me is “I would like to take advantage of you and your generosity, but, once again, when it’s convenient for me,” and “I guess this means you owe me now, so I can call you anytime and cash it in and come over and you’ll have pasta with meat sauce hot and ready for me by the time I arrive.” Seriously, if you care that much, either a) ask me if I can do something similar at another time/date, like “I can’t today, but do you want to do something next Tuesday?” or b) cancel whatever you’re doing and actually take up the damn invitation.
Wait, no, I lied. The absolute absolute worst is when people are just so into themselves that they think they’re doing you a huge favor just by responding to your simple request that they say “I’ll take a rain check.” Um, who said that my invitation was more than a one-time offer? Maybe my brain is just addled, but that basically feels like a giant “screw-you, you unimportant waste of time, you, I do what I want and if I ever want to have dinner with you I will show up at your door and demand that you make me a filet mignon with a side of coq au vin and truffles and your finest cognac.” Seriously, seriously, audacity, nerve, gaul, chutzpah.
The only time it’s a legitimate and non-patronizing excuse, I feel, is if it’s an actual thing that somebody can’t attend because of weather.
In conclusion, don’t take my kindness for granted, and don’t walk all over me, but if you do, walk on my back, because I’ve never had one of those type of massages before and I’ve been dying to try one. Just say something like, “can we do it another time?” or “sorry, I’m not available,” or even just a simple, “I can’t, but thanks for the offer.”
Whew, that took a lot of energy, and now I’m all riled up. Sorry if this made you think that I’m a stone cold bastard, but I just had to yell about it out to the whole world, or at least whoever’s reading this far. I think that a much calmer and tamer follow-up post is due, right about…now.