Looking for a quick retort


I have the best of intentions.

It could be someone you run into in the convenience store or someone you see on the street, it doesn’t really matter. They say or do something rude and demeaning. I want to comeback with a one-liner or a quick retort that puts the offending party in their place and takes the tension out of the moment. 

Despite my best of intentions, I’m usually the one left grasping for words. I search for the right ones that will make everything right again, but they seem to run away from me. We’ve all faced these types of situations. Lately, I’ve seen to have my share of these experiences. 

When I do have a comeback or a zinger, it feels more like the proverbial equivalent of the neighborhood tattletale crying out in a whiney voice, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. 

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Yes, great advice, but pretty weak as far as comebacks go. In fact, the response probably ranks near the bottom of the list, right next to “I told you so.”

Oh I’m fine at standing up for myself. It’s the zingers, the retorts, that I wish I could spew out quicker. Like many people I’m great for coming back with a great response an hour or so after the offending comment. I’ll stew and stew over the incident until I come up with something, but it still doesn’t help much. I’m too late. An hour or so after the incident, I’ll bring up my well-honed response and the offending party will usually look at me with a confused expression or worse, they’re long gone.

My goal in life is to be the person who always knows what to say in the moment, when the retort is needed most. We all know the type. The man or woman who always seems to know what to say at the perfect time. I used to work with someone who fit the exact description. She’s quick as a whip and able to come back with retort with the snap of your fingers. People talk down to her at their own peril. After one such incident, I asked her how she did it. She joked that you have to go with your gut and not care about what others might say or do.

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I want to be like that and I try to follow my former coworker’s advice, but I worry that I would lose the side of me that cares about people. Yes, it would feel great in the moment to put someone in their place, to make them eat their own words. Wouldn’t we all want to be in that position?

In the end though I’m sure I would come to regret my comments. I would worry about the other person, but even more than that, I would worry about the person God wants me to be.

Yes, that leaves me back right where I started, back at the beginning, but I’d much rather be surprised with other people’s kindness, than shocked by my own rudeness. I don’t know for certain, but something tells me I’m better off there anyway.

 

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