Understanding Subtlety

 

Emily and I just got back from a 25-hour vacation* to Ocean City, Maryland – a family-oriented seashore vacation area.

After we finished breakfast, I left our cash tip on the table. Emily asked me to put it under the lip of her dish, which confused me just a tad. After all, the dish would cover maybe one-fifth of the tip (which was paper), so the money would be out in plain sight anyway. Being a thoughtful well-trained husband, I put it under the lip of the dish.

When I asked her what good she thought it would do, she said it would be more subtle.

That’s like much of what NTs do that I have difficulty understanding: If something is going to be obvious one way or the other, what’s gained by doing it more “subtlely”?

What do you think?

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Jeffrey Deutsch
I have Asperger Syndrome (AS) and give inspirational talks, consult with organizations and train people on how to recognize and work well with people on the spectrum and coach individuals on and off the spectrum.
Jeffrey Deutsch

Jeffrey Deutsch

I have Asperger Syndrome (AS) and give inspirational talks, consult with organizations and train people on how to recognize and work well with people on the spectrum and coach individuals on and off the spectrum.

0 thoughts on “Understanding Subtlety

  • July 10, 2010 at 1:20 pm
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    I recently finished a COM 101 course on human communication. One of the reasons people resort to subtlety is to allow the other person to “save face” if something might be embarrassing or less than flattering. Pointing out the spinach on someone’s teeth or the fact that their zipper is down, without announcing it to the whole room for example. Yes, the zipper being down is quite obvious, and probably a dozen other people have already seen it and probably inwardly giggled about it… but being the one with the guts to carefully point it out while causing as little embarrassment as possible is a small kindness.

    The tip on the table is kinda the same way. Obviously the wait staff expects a tip, but it is impolite to ASK for one. One time an airline person at the baggage check outside blatantly suggested that tips were appreciated (as if I couldn’t see the sign) it annoyed me so he got less than I would have given him had he not said anything… insulting my intelligence is not the way to get a good tip. In that case, the guy may have thought he was being subtle, but he was being far from it. Obviously, a tip was expected. The airline posted a sign about it. Get what I mean?

    The trouble is when people think I’m trying to say something subtle about one thing, when my intention is to be obvious about another thing. If I say, “If you don’t have time, that’s ok.” it isn’t a subtle way of trying to guilt trip someone into doing something… it is genuinely ok. I despise that aspect of subtlety. Just take me at my word, dang it. I am not generally subtle about it. LOL

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  • July 6, 2010 at 12:50 pm
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    I try to be subtle when I know what I’m going to say is going to hurt somebody’s feelings. Other than that, I don’t.

    As for tips, I usually put it in the black jacket thing with the bill. And make sure to say thank you. If you want to know more about the resturant business and tips; I’d suggest the book “Waiter Rant” written by a blogger. (besides, my dad always taught me to be polite)

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  • July 5, 2010 at 4:00 pm
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    My mother would certainly have found it “common” to be obvious about a tip, that’s why you only leave a little showing. That is, if you care about such things!  As a server, I was just happy to get tips, didn’t care how it was left, as a customer, I tend to tuck paper under something so it is secured from blowing off the table.  I don’t think it has anything to do with A v NT.

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  • July 4, 2010 at 11:38 pm
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    Maybe she just thought that someone else would see it and take it, or it would fall off the table, and that’s why putting it there wouldn’t scream “money” to anyone that walked by… and only the waitor/waitress would notice it. 

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  • July 4, 2010 at 2:19 pm
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    Well, you would have to ask your wife. Not everyone cares about subtlety, and when they do care it tends to be for personal reasons.

    Me, I tend to wedge the tip under a plate to keep it from falling off the table. 😛

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