Minding Your Own Business: Rules to Live By

People who are incapable of seeing that the world doesn’t revolve around them are completely undeserving of respect. I just cannot fathom how people work themselves into a fury over something that wasn’t their business to begin with. 

Take for example a recent argument of mine: I was changing the fish tank. My birthday fish – Hall, Oates and Boyle – were beginning to poop, triple-time, and it was just one of those lazy afternoons where old reruns of Friends could take you so far without making you feel like an unproductive potato.

I was changing the tank, when my mother strolled in unannounced and started nagging five ways to Sunday about “all the wrong steps” I was taking that were most probably killing my fish. I rolled my eyes and shrugged it off. She pursued her nagging relentlessly, going on and on about how she used to rear fish and I was just screwing it all up.

I retorted that I was just following the advice of the kind fish seller who took the time to sit me down and various fish-care steps to me – a first time fish owner. My mother shrieked and continued to go on and on about how “disappointing daughters” should listen to their mothers (note: Who had never reared such a breed of fish before) and not to random old men owning fish shops (one of the most popular “random” fish shops in Singapore).

But still, Asian moms am I right? I let it go, and she left.

Minutes later, I was returning an important email on my phone when la mère stepped back into my room and started talking about money and payments and all that jazz. I honestly wasn’t listening much; in cases of potential multi-tasking, I always opt for utter concentration towards doing one thing perfectly, instead of dividing my concentration and doing two things subpar.

She then went off on a rant about how her “disappointing daughter” never paid her any respect. I reluctantly looked up from my phone, and addressed her queries. Unsatisfied, she continued to argue that her way was the best way, and my opinions were wrong. Frustrated, I wondered why she even asked for my opinion to begin with. Still, I let it go and went back to my phone, giving her a non-committal response about her being right and to “believe what she will”.

Oh, cue the Shakespearean drama. She flew into a rage about “disrespecting elders” and continued to harp on the fact that she was still paying for everything in this household (not by choice, I am working on moving out but houses can only be constructed so fast), roping in all the money spent on my education, food and necessities over the twenty-odd years of keeping me alive, and went on to wail about what a failure she was to have raised me as such.

I finally snapped, and as Murphy would have it, my dad walked by and caught that bit of rudeness. He joined my mom in a chorus of “how could you talk to your parents this way”, featuring repeat performances from “you disappointing shrew” and “no patience, not a virtue”.

This is just one of the many many examples of why people should mind their own business and not work themselves into a fury about things that have absolutely nothing to do with them. Because by doing so, not only do you wittingly enter a war that you had no business fighting for, and in due course breaking solid relationships, uttering words you can’t take back, and causing most of my fish and myself to hate you with a burning passion.

I can deal with people being angry, especially if their bone to pick is with me – even if I didn’t knowingly do anything to piss them off – hey, we’re only human. But having watched my new birthday parrot fish (who are ungraciously territorial, only able to semi-get along with their own kind) fight one another to establish the pecking order for hours on end, I’ve realised that it’s just plain animalistic for one to pick on others minding their own business and butting into unrelated arguments. 

If you’re bored, might I suggest re-organizing your wardrobe, or cleaning your house. Check out that new Dyson vacuum or invest in a good epilator. Seriously through. Mind your own business. It’s good for everyone.