All I'm Askin'

Story Sent in by Molly:

I was out to dinner with Ben, who had written to me online. He worked for the state with at-risk families, trying to help them find ways to afford, well, basically anything. Some of the stories he told me were heartbreaking, and I gave him lots of credit for jumping into those sorts of trenches on a daily basis.

At dinner, though, something was off. Not two minutes into our conversation, he asked me, "Do you respect me?"

I replied, "Yes. Of course, I do. I'm sorry, did I do something that made it seem like I don't?"

He said, "It's just something that's so important with my job. Mutual respect. I find that being direct about it is the best policy. Do you respect me?"

"Yes. I do."


I thought about asking him the same question, but I wanted off the topic more, so I changed it to the Huskers, as both Ben and I had gone to the University of Nebraska (at the same time, even, although we didn't know each other there), and were both admitted fans.

During our talk about athletics, a waitress came by and took our drink orders. After she went off, Ben turned to me and asked, "Do you still respect me?"

"Yes, Ben. Assume that I do and will continue to respect you."

"How can I assume that? Anything might happen. What if I threw this drink in your face? Would you still respect me, then?"

I rubbed at my temples. "Ben, let's say that for tonight, we both respect each other, okay?"

He said, "You're assuming that I respect you. You haven't even asked me if I do."

I sighed. "Ben, do you respect me?"

He looked up, as if in deep thought, then looked back at me and asked, "Do you respect me?"


"You didn't ask me if I respected you."

"Fine. Do you–"

He interrupted, "Do you respect me?"

So incensed I was at this point, that I raised my voice and replied, "No."

He leaned back in his chair, pulled a $10 bill from his pocket, slammed it on the table, stood, said, "You're all the same," and left me alone there.


  1. As someone who works in my state's social services bureaucracy, take my word for it - many/most state social service workers are certifiably NUTS. Dysfunction attracts dysfunction, or so it seems.

  2. Respect cannot be demanded, only earned. Ben obviously thinks it's the other way around.

  3. Wow, whatta nut. :/

  4. I hope he never gets into a position of authoritah.


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