- Paul Davidson
People Who Fear Conversation
People are afraid of conversation.
No, not the kind with your friends or your family or your priest or your rabbi… But people are really truly afraid of having conversations with people they don’t know. Why? Because most people believe that if a stranger wants to have a conversation with you it must be to sell you something or ask you out and other than that, they’re just plain weird.
I, personally, enjoy starting random conversations with random people mostly because I like to see what their responses will be but also because I just think it’s stupid to stand next to someone when you’re on a bus, sharing an elevator, ordering food from them, blah blah blah, and to not say anything at all. But, really, I find that it’s rare that the people I engage in conversation really take the bull by the horns and go to town. Some examples:
At a fast food mexican restaurant
Her: Hello, sir. May I take your order?
Me: Totally. I’d like to have one of those bare burrito bowls. No rice, but can you put extra chicken on there and a dollup of sour cream?
Her: A dollup?
Me: Yeah. Derives from the word, dollupation, to mean ‘one who dollups’.
Her: So, you just want sour cream in the bowl, right?
Me: Yeah, thanks. So, do most people order the healthy bare burrito and then ask you to put on a load of sour cream, tons of cheese, nullifying it’s health quotient?
She looks at me for some time.
Me: You know?
Her: You’re number 64.
At the crosswalk, waiting for the ‘walk’ symbol
Me (to the man who just pressed the button): Hey, thanks.
Me: You know, for pressing the button. Some people would just sit here and wait for the other person because a lot of people think it’s unsanitary to press the buttons with your bare finger cause so many people who haven’t washed their hands probably touched it.
He looks at his finger, wipes it on his coat. The ‘walk symbol’ appears. He books away from me, awfully quickly.
In the elevator, with one other person…
Me: Fancy meeting you here. I mean, what are the chances.
Her: Can you press 5 for me?
I press it.
Me: Five it is. I’m on nine.
Me: I’ve always found five to be a better number than nine.
Her: I prefer double-digit numbers, to be perfectly honest.
Fifth floor it is. Doors open. Seriously, she reaches in and hits the buttons for six, seven and eight.
Her: You talk too much.
Sure, some could say that I try to start conversations with people in random situations and say random things. Perhaps. Some may also say that I am scary. Okay. But really, what’s the harm in engaging in everyday random conversation? I mean, c’mon – let’s talk about the things that no one else talks about.
I’m over talking about the weather and the traffic and the rain that’s about to come and the food we’re eating and the weekend I just had and how tired we all are and how we wish we were working out and how the days are just flying by and how ten years ago we were drunk somewhere and how great would that be if we could just be drunk again like that now and how our bosses are bothering us and our co-workers are annoying us and how often we drink an eight-ounce glass of water and how this Atkins thing is a hellish experience and how we take this elevator over that elevator because it requires us to walk less of a distance to get to our desk and how it’s only 293 more days until New Year’s when we will finally make resolutions worth keeping and how we think there may be some kind of disease floating around and how drinking those juice drinks will most definitely help us fight off sickness.
I want to talk about the random funny things. Things that will, at the end of the day, stand out to me and you and everybody else we tell the stories to. I want to have a debate on whether or not you’d rather work with midgets all day long or have a midget trail you around 24 hours a day. I want to know if you’d rather have a dead raccoon carcass in your stomach for the rest of your life or have your left foot amputated. I want to know what you’re worried about and what you’re excited about and what you want to be doing twenty-eight minutes from now.
I guess, in hindsight, many citizens may not necessarily be afraid of conversation with strangers. They may just be afraid of conversations with me.
And if that’s the case, they don’t know what they’re missing.
In other news, tomorrow is (once again) our weekly “Words For Your Enjoyment.” Where you supply the idea for a post, I write it and link back to you, and you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.