My blog contains a large number of posts. A few are included in various other publications, or as attached stories and chronicles in my emails; many more are found on loose leaves, while some are written carelessly in margins and blank spaces of my notebooks. Of the last sort most are nonsense, now often unintelligible even when legible, or half-remembered fragments. Enjoy responsibly.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Excuse Me, But I Don’t Care

Even though I’ve lived in the South for many years now there are some things to which I cannot acclimate. Most of my grievances emanate from individuals who find it appropriate to start complete conversations with random strangers without following any conversational protocol. I’ve had this happen in other parts of the country too, but the sheer quantity that it happens here in the South is almost overwhelming. Being a native Northern boy, I never know how to handle someone who just starts talking and refuses to yield the floor. I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t want to talk to them either.

Case in point: This morning I went to check the post office box and had the following conversation. Quick tip: there was no conversation before or after what is written. Below is the entirety of our exchange and for ease of storytelling I’ve named the random old guy Otis (because it seems to fit).

Otis: I just bought me some of those forever stamps.
Me (finding key for box): Um… ..ok
Otis: I remember when they were just flag stamps – I liked them the best. It seems to me that the Post Office should do more flag stamps if they want people to mail more letters.
Me: (interrupting while pulling mail out): I’m just here to get my…
Otis: People mail letters because they have stamps and they buy stamps because they like the design. So if the Post Office would put out more things people like on their stamps, more people would talk to each other through the mail.
Me: Sure . Sounds good. Listen I’ve got to…
Otis: Instead, people just talk to each other through the computers. My granddaughter talks to her friends through the computer all the time, but I can’t get her to write me a letter. She just keeps telling me to get a computer and that we could talk through there. Well, I don’t know about that. I mean, I was a naval officer in the war and we use to communicate through….
Me: (starting to walk towards the door): I’m really running late today, I’ll be seeing you….
Otis: Let me ask you a question.
Me: A long as it’s…
Otis: Do you think that the naval officers of today use computers to talk to each other or do you think that they still use the box?
Me (opening the post office door): The box?
Otis: I’m glad you asked, the box is….
Me: (faking that my phone is ringing) Sorry, I’ve got to take this. Nice talking to you. Hello?

And this is how I would have liked to handle that conversation:

Otis: I just bought me some of those forever stamps.
Me: (finding key for box): Siggghhhh.
Otis: I remember when they were just flag stamps…
Me: Let me stop you right there. Baring you telling me about how you’re giving away your winning Mega Millions Lottery ticket to the next person you see in the Post Office, there probably isn’t a thing in the world that you could tell me right now that I would be interested in hearing. Sure I might listen and nod, but really I’ll just want away from you. It’s nothing personal; I just don’t want waste a couple minutes of my life listening to you babble or complain. It’s not fair to just pin people down with a forced conversation because you’re lonely or bored. So now that I have my mail, I’ll be wishing you a good day.

But I can’t, I just can’t. These people are generally older, abandoned and just in need of a conscience or semi-conscience mammal to talk at. I have to, because some day I may be Otis.

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