I recently had a worker put a new electrical outlet in the house. He was one of those guys who just loved to hear himself talk. I finally had to tell him in no uncertain terms that I did not want to hear about the problems in his private life and I did not want his friendly banter about the day or the job. I tried to sum it up to him with: I am not your friend – I am your employer.
My wife heard later about this exchange and pointed out that I just don’t like chatty people. She mentioned how I have the same problem when her daughter gets into that chatty mode. I didn’t realize the comparison before that, but she was right.
A certain amount of chatty to be polite at the proper time is ok with me. I call it stranger chat. Like at the checkout counter where the clerk and I discuss the mysterious condition of the world that causes every checkout station to use a different method in their charge card stand. Talking about the weather is usually boring but it makes for safe stranger chat. It works a little better when you live in an area like the midwest that regularly has three different weather conditions in one day. However it goes way beyond stranger chat if I don’t even know the person’s name and they try to tell me what their kid is doing in school or all about their husbands latest surgical procedure. I just think to myself, “Jeez lady, save it for Facebook.”
I think it all stems from my generation being the first to be told not to talk to strangers. Today they call it stranger danger. Nothing puts my guard up faster than passing a stranger on the street who says, “Gee, isn’t a nice day” or the disgustingly ubiquitous “Have a nice day.” Here I am in my sixties and I still hear my mother’s voice in my head warning me to expect the next thing out of the guy’s mouth to be a promise of candy if I help him find his puppy.
So what does it mean if I don’t like to talk to people face-to-face but I’ll write hundreds of words a week to people I don’t know? For one thing, it’s a lot easier to choose my words when I’m writing than when I stutter through an off-the-cuff conversation. And I enjoy reading those same other people’s words. That way when I don’t want to hear (or care about) what a person is saying I can move on to the next blog, same as I’m sure you do whan I get boring. What is it about the chatter of a person face-to-face that is so much more annoying than reading their stories?