Try as we might, it's hard not to embarrass ourselves every now and again. I find it usually comes with simply trying to be honest. The catch is that sometimes honesty flys in the face of hurting someone. Case in point: I know someone who is rather loud. OK, I lied, very, very loud. It stems from a traumatic childhood, no doubt. What little I know seems to center on the fact that, as a child, this person needed to be heard. After a disruptive stint with a famously dysfunctional family, a dysfunctional, extremely person emerged only to flutter and sputter as an adult. And yet, best friends don't always tell you what everyone mutters behind their backs. "It'd be too hurtful," they say, or, "surely he must know..." Surely, he doesn't.
I know I have what it takes to drop a large hint, but the collateral damage it would do might not be worth the effort. In fact, I was once that damage, myself, for about 30 seconds anyway. Here's what happened. I wrote a brief review of the business this loud-talker runs. Cleverly, I praised the shop, it's ambiance, contents, and convenient location. Then, I clicked the link that would post it to one of the more well known web sites that publish consumer reviews. Careful not to sign my real name, I watched as my review, along with a picture connected to my email (forgot about that!) appeared on the screen. Paralysis...collateral damage at once..overwhelming feeling of stupidity that quickly turns into sinking feeling. Fortunately for me, and I'm sure thousands of others who have done the same thing, I was able to delete the post in a matter of seconds.
I decided to leave the situation alone and learn from the experience. Still, the problem persists. Nobody will tell this poor person that a slight adjustment in volume is necessary. Just too risky, I guess. What they will do is passively move away. Not patronize the business, not have anything to do with person in question unless it's absolutely necessary.
I'd hate to be a person that others would fear or shun. Taking a risk outside of your comfort zone just to interact with someone must be horrible for our friends. The term these days is "high maintenance."
It's one thing to associate that type of demanding personality pseudo celebrities (I use the term pseudo because I don't celebrate them) but quite another to stick the label on people we deal with daily.
It's no laughing matter, but I try to look for the humor in such people and situations.
Reminds me of the time I was covering a big international jockey competition and the great British riding legend, Lester Piggott, came to the Bay Area to compete against a West coast contingent of riders. I did a little research and discovered that Piggot, among other things, was deaf in one ear. If you tried to talk to him, or ask him a question and were on the wrong side, he'd ignore you completely. Now Piggott had a face like a prune and always looked like he was "weaned on a pickle" as my mother-in-law would say. I found myself positioned right next to Lester as the jocks walked out to the saddling paddock at the old Bay Meadows. I can't seem to recall the question I wanted to ask, only that I took the risk hoping that I was on the right side of this living legend. Embarrassment would have to wait for another day, Lester was a gentleman. The conversation went smoothly and Lester obviously heard every word. At 5'8" he was reputed to dine on a lettuce leaf and a glass of champagne. Piggott was as formidable a person as I've ever met. He spoke silently. Unlike someone I know.