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Etiquette tips for the clueless

Here's a little advice for the general public:

If you meet someone who wears a MedicAlert-style bracelet for a medical condition, do not take that as an invitation to engage in idle chit-chat about their problem.

Especially to give them gratuitous advice on how to deal with it.

Most particularly do not take it as an opportunity to shill your "herbal remedies" crap at them.

And most certainly not when your victim is in a work environment where they are not free to tell you to take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut -- they don't care to discuss personal matters with perfect strangers.

Thank you for your consideration.

(Clarification: my colleagues are well aware of my medical issues; the people I am grousing about are members of the general public who see the bracelet, she the description engraved upon it (it's not a true "MedicAlert" bracelet), and immediately want to start discussing it. As stated below, the bracelet is solely there for emergency use, and not as a conversation piece. Unless I'm in distress, it should be politely ignored, like a big hairy mole or a hunchback.)

Comments (28)

Ahhh, hit by the holinistas... (Below threshold)

Ahhh, hit by the holinistas, eh Jay? At least they didn't try to sell you crystal mobiles (they're really good for keeping in touch with your imagined Cherokee).

(No, I don't think you're the MedicAlert-Grandma, because that's my Grandma, and she's way more stylish).

I'm trying to think of a gr... (Below threshold)

I'm trying to think of a great fictitious reason one might give that would immediately stop all further conversation...

"I'm trying to think of a g... (Below threshold)

"I'm trying to think of a great fictitious reason one might give that would immediately stop all further conversation..."


Faith, LOL!... (Below threshold)

Faith, LOL!

I was thinking a good Eddie... (Below threshold)

I was thinking a good Eddie Murphy reference, like "Herpes Symplex 10".

Or "End Stage Gonorrhea"

Good Lord. Sounds like bei... (Below threshold)

Good Lord. Sounds like being pregnant. I'd never gotten so much unsolicited, uniformed advice in my life. Why people think these things are their business, I'll never know.

I'd just start asking extre... (Below threshold)

I'd just start asking extremely personal questions about *their* health ... loudly

So, that prostate problem still giving you fits and the Viagra ain't helping? How are those fibroid tumors coming along? (Gender dependent questions are best)

Now, now, children. Let's ... (Below threshold)

Now, now, children. Let's be nice.

Clueless One: Is that a medi-alert bracelet?
Jay Tea: Yes. (insert business-related QUESTION here--it MUST be a question so that the CO has to reply).
CO (truly clueless because he/she returns to bracelet): Why do you wear it?
Jay Tea: It's a medi-alert bracelet.
CO:: Yeah, but what is it for?
Jay Tea: It's medi-alert bracelet. (Continue with business discussion).
CO: Is it for ____________ ? (tries to guess condition).
Jay Tea: My manager (stock holders, slave driver, other title for boss) prefers that his (her) employees don't discuss their personal lives at work*. Now how many widgets did you need?

Repeat that last sentence with redireting question as long as necessary.

*If you ABSOLUTELY MUST, you may add, "...and my doctor insists that I don't become agitated (beginning to show signs of agitation).

Whoa!The heat gett... (Below threshold)


The heat getting to you today?

It's for gamma radiation po... (Below threshold)
Big Mo:

It's for gamma radiation poisoning. Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry.

Seriously, though, that's about as tactless as asking a woman you don't know when she's due.

Tell them that it would be ... (Below threshold)

Tell them that it would be a $25,000 fine to disclose protected health information under HIPPA [not true but it sounds good], and ask for a deposit before you'll disclose anything to them.

My longest term friend in t... (Below threshold)

My longest term friend in this world has a cousin who lives in California. Andi's cousin is unbelievably nervy AND she is the food and health police as well. Luckily, we have good senses of humor and laugh at her but it's easy to do because when she decided to start eating an all "organic" diet, she took ALL the food in her freezer that didn't conform and took it BACK to the stores where she bought it (no receipts mind you) and asked for her money back. Now that's nervy - but here's the thing - THEY COMPLIED! She returned $1,200 worth of food in one day! Had to share that and Jay Tea - I am sharing your post with my best friend because it is going to totally make her day!

So, why do you wear the bra... (Below threshold)

So, why do you wear the bracelet anyway?

So, why do you wear the ... (Below threshold)

So, why do you wear the bracelet anyway?

To deflect bullets.

I'd tell them what I tell t... (Below threshold)

I'd tell them what I tell telemarketers--I have a terminal condition. Probably only a few weeks to live. Just trying to enjoy the last few moments of my life.

I'm sorry; what did you want . . .?

Hmmmm.Whenever any... (Below threshold)


Whenever anybody asks and I get the impression they're about to go all New Age on me I merely explain that I contracted a serious disease from a recent experience in cannibalism.

Then I advise, sotto voce, that they should take it from me and never eat anybody that isn't extremely healthy and that the best come from either vegans or people who exclusively eat organic food.


That tends to end the conversation rather quickly.

No doubt there is lots of t... (Below threshold)

No doubt there is lots of thoughtless behavior involved, but aren't the bracelets a VOLUNTARY PUBLIC NOTIFICATION?

You wear them to tell people that you are around about a medical condition that might have public consequences and require help from strangers. If you keel over at the office, you'd expect someone to read it then, would you not?

If my office mate wore one, I'd appreciate a little heads up so that if I'm expected to give the guy mouth-to-mouth someday, I'll have some dental dams on hand.

Can't have it both ways - privacy and public dependency.

Lighten up, noone cares if ... (Below threshold)

Lighten up, noone cares if you have VD, we like you just as you are.

Jay - know what you mean. I... (Below threshold)

Jay - know what you mean. I switched to a medallion on a chain around my neck. It's more private that way.

...a flying fuck at a ro... (Below threshold)
Peter F.:

...a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut

That creates all kinds of unnecessary and distracting and downright hilarious visuals!

Peter F.:Try doing... (Below threshold)

Peter F.:

Try doing it and then tell us how hilarious it is. (Oh, the pain, the pain.)

All of you men just don't k... (Below threshold)

All of you men just don't know what's it like to be large with child and have complete strangers come over and rub your belly, like you are Buddha or something.

Imagine if they did that to guys with beer bellies? Now THAT would be good.

I get the same crap when pe... (Below threshold)

I get the same crap when people notice I'm wearing an Insulin pump. With the recent increase in diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes, everyone has a cousin, or uncle or whatever that's diabetic. When they launch into their sob stories about how much it's changed their life, my only response is "Is -*whoever*- overweight?" ... yeh ... I thought so ... I'm 5'11" and weigh 145 pounds. I'm a type 1 with diabetes severe enough to require a pump. I'm with Jay ... I don't want to talk about it, I don't care what your family member did, and I don't want to listen to a whole bunch of crystal grippin' hippie bullshit remedies. Yes ... there are people who gorge themselves on food to the point that their organs shutdown, and they end up diagnosed as type 2 diabetics. Maybe for them, if they stop eating 12 cheeseburgers a week, and switch to drinking pureed wheat grass, they don't have to take their pills or shots anymore. Great! Wonderful ... good for them ... I'm not one of those people, and I can -*not*- go without my Insulin, and I don't want to hear about your green tea diabetes cure, or wheatgrass shake suppliments.

Jay Tea: It's a m... (Below threshold)

Jay Tea: It's a medi-alert bracelet.
CO: Yeah, but what is it for?

Spontaneous human combustion.

but aren't the bra... (Below threshold)
but aren't the bracelets a VOLUNTARY PUBLIC NOTIFICATION?

In a word: No.

The bracelet and necklace do not identify the actual medical condition, but have a member identification number and an 800 number. It is designed that a professional emergency medical provider (i.e. ER doctor) can call the number, give the operator the patient's ID and receive his medical condition and history.

I wear one too.And... (Below threshold)

I wear one too.

And it's no one's business if I don't choose to tell someone.

It's not for public consumption any more than the rest of my medical history is. It's not meant to be a public announcement but advice for trained emergency medical personnel. (Mine does list my condition, tho... but it uses medical terminology that most folks wouldn't comprehend.)

And for the person who was wondering about mouth-to-mouth... my condition has no effect on that, so don't worry if I faint in your general vicinity.

Jay, Maybe your coworkers a... (Below threshold)

Jay, Maybe your coworkers are curious about your condition so they know what to do if you fall down, foaming at the mouth?

Wait, if they've worked with you long enough they would already know that it was time to administer a therapeutic cold beer immediately. Never mind...*wink.

I wear a special badge at w... (Below threshold)

I wear a special badge at work, and when said idiots ask about it, I tell them that I'm on double-secret probation.






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