Q: How do I respond to co-workers who often talk about their supposedly impoverished childhoods even though, in less guarded moments, they reveal things that make it clear they didn't really grow up poor. None of them grew up in worse circumstances than I did and I wasn't poor.
Usually I ignore them, but I get annoyed when I have to listen to, "You wouldn't understand, Jane, because you didn't grow up poor like Mary and I did." How do I let them know that I know they're full of it?
My Poor Co-workers
A: Why do you need to? Merely wanting to isn't justification.
There's also the possibility that they were indeed needy and you're drawing incorrect conclusions. Not that anything justifies a who's-the-poorest contest; just being thorough.
These are sufficient arguments alone for not saying anything, but Ms. Shoulder-Devil has one, too: Watching people profess things that you know aren't true, and that you know they don't know you know, inspires some of us to make popcorn and grab a seat. Any "You're so full of it!" outburst would be counter to your own entertainment interests.
Completely different tack, if you aren't amused: Interject brightly that you had to walk to school uphill! both ways!, and then leave. That's universal code for: Be martyrs on your own time, please.