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  • Paul Davidson

Nobody is Paying Attention

I’d be willing to bet that the following has happened to EVERY ONE OF YOU at least once in your life.

You are walking down the hall at work, at school, in a public place… You see a friend or acquaintance walking towards you. You are both in a rush, but since you are polite, you’re at least going to say hello.

You say: Hey, how are you doing?

They say: Not much… You?


You say: Hey, what’s going on?

They say: Pretty good, you?

And then, the two of you pass by each other and continue on in your own life’s very important business.

What is it with people these days? Is everyone so obsessed with their own lives that they can’t take the time out to even listen to what other people are saying? Apparently, not. I find that people (a) aren’t listening, (b) deny that they aren’t listening and then (c) get embarassed when you uncover that they’re not listening.

And so I like to test people.

I find myself at parties, often where I play a game I call I’m Going To Talk To You, But You’re Not Going to Understand What I’m Saying and Then You’re Going to Lie About Understanding Me. It goes something like this:

Step #1: Find someone who you don’t think is listening.

Step #2: Speak a phrase to them, with only the last word being an actual word. (I.e. Asimana goublana deekay telephone)

Step #3: They will say, “Excuse me?”

Step #4: You repeat the above phrase that makes no sense.

Step #5: They will say, “Can you, uh, I didn’t get that. Can you say it slower?”

Step #6: You will repeat it one last time. Slower.

Step #7: They will say, “Oh! Yeah, totally.”

Eventually, no one wants to look stupid. And so they’ll actually pretend they know what you’re saying. Just like when you walk by and answer someone’s “How are you?” question with “Not much.” No one will blink. It’s easier to pretend all is well than to ask you what the hell you’re talking about.

So maybe it’s not that they’re not listening. Maybe it’s just that they don’t care.

In other news — that old man above is my grandfather, so please don’t make fun of him.

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