Oh, Please Just Shut Up

Two examples from the last two days on why becoming a homesteading hermit sounds awesome (minus the endless amounts of work part):

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You don’t realize all the things you need in a house until you have to stock one. My husband and his siblings have acquired a cabin for us all to share and we went this weekend to pick up the required supplies. (I offered to do it because one sibling is in the process of planning a wedding while in medical school and the other is helping plan the wedding while juggling her child’s high school graduation. The least I can do is pick up sheets). So on Sunday, Jess and I took our children and filled multiple carts with bedding, cleaning products, kitchen necessities and other miscellaneous home goods. It felt a little bit like Supermarket Sweep. And then we took a house worth of stuff up to the register where the cashier would. not. shut. up.

An endless stream of consciousness came pouring out of his mouth while we unloaded and reloaded our items. I even stopped with the polite “oh”s and “yeah”s in the hopes he would eventually wind down. No luck. A Niagara Falls of words deluged over me.

Today, I had a dentist appointment. I will never understand how hygienists expect you to carry on a conversation but they do. Yes, it’s summer. Yes, it rained this morning. Yes, it’s sunny now. Yes, my kids are out of school. They’re almost 9 and 7. Yes, good ages. Yes, we have a vacation planned for the summer. All while thinking, “Dear Lord, I know I’m supposed to ask you questions too, but this is torture. Can we please just be quiet while you assault my mouth with pointy metal things?”

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I do try. I understand that part of the social contract is that we pretend that other peoples’ musings on the weather report are more interesting than the thoughts in our own heads. I accept that mindless chatter is the grease of social interactions because nice people make small talk. Nice people ask follow up questions. Nice people carry on conversations about banalities and enjoy it. It’s an absolute miracle I have friends. I am not nice.

So can we make a deal, random people? I’ll ask how old your kids are and muse that it was so, so, so hot on Saturday, but please, after a few minutes…just stop. I’m really not trying to be rude. I just like the quiet*.

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*I’m so tempted to have that made into a button I wear everywhere.

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  • You may not be nice, but I love you. Because I, too, was at the dentist this morning, and I, too, had ALL THE EXACT SAME THOUGHTS. Not so much at the hygienist, who was blissfully quiet (when she wasn’t making my gums bleed), but the x-ray technician. And I felt like a crappy person because she was so genuinely nice, but I really just wanted her to shut the f*** up. I also want all the baristas of the world to do the same. I want them to quit asking me what I’m up to today and/or if I have any plans for the day. Because even if I did, WHY WOULD SOME STRANGER CARE AND/OR WHY WOULD I SHARE THEM WITH A STRANGER?

    This kind of thing brings out the all-caps in me. Sorry.

    • Don’t you ever just want to make things up when they ask that?!? “Why yes, I DO have plans. I’m going to the OB-GYN to find out what that burning sensation is all about.”

      And that’s the whole thing…why are we the jerks for not wanting to talk? Why aren’t THEY the jerks for invading our auditory personal space?????

      (I really am showing my not nice colors, here.)

      • Cane and I once amused ourselves greatly by making up things to say in response to the “what are you up to today?” question. Some of our favorites included: Getting a colonoscopy and Signing divorce papers. My daughter thinks we’re terrible. I know they’re just doing their job, and they are likely required to ask such questions, but it peeves me all the same.

  • Oh, you’re perfectly nice. You’re just an introvert!

    I was just musing with another introverted friend that extroverts would be so much less annoying if they were a little more self-aware.

    But I am not sure I can fault checkers etc. for making small talk. In many cases it may be a job requirement — part of that “emotional labor” that is actually really hard on service workers.

    Clearly a job requirement made up by extroverts though. Has it never occurred to management that some customers would appreciate silence so much more than chit-chat?

    • You are so right about check out clerks! I usually don’t mind, but we had so much stuff it took us a good 10 minutes or more to check out and it was nonstop.

      One of my best friends is the truest version of an extrovert and I just look at her and think “how are you not just EXHAUSTED?!?”. Thankfully, she loves me enough to know that after a few social things, I’m very likely to fall off the face of the earth for a while!

  • I don’t actually mind the banal chitchat about weather at checkouts or with strangers or acquaintances. While I rarely initiate these types of conversations (being a quiet introvert myself) I always figure it doesn’t cost me anything to smile and be pleasant, plus I DO really feel for people who work with the public in these types of jobs — being on your feet for your entire shift and having to deal with rude/complaining/demanding customers all day is rough. I know I was very grateful to those people who went out of their way to be nice when I worked as a pharmacist; sometimes those banal conversations were even enough to take the edge off what had been a really bad day. And I had days when, as a young SAHM, my only adult conversation for an entire day was two minutes of weather or kid-related conversation with the grocery clerk, and I felt utterly grateful to her for taking (or feigning) interest in my day … (which I suppose illustrates an almost pathetic loneliness on my part!). Where banal conversations drive me up a creek, however, are when they come from people you know well, especially when they’re offered up in lieu of more important stuff. For example, a parent who rarely calls and when they do they talk about the weather, rather than asking about their grandchildren … now THAT gets me going in all caps!

    • We’re the opposite. I’ll happily talk small talk with friends and family (at least for awhile) because I genuinely want to hear what they have to say but forced conversations EXHAUST me.