An odd thing happened yesterday as I went to buy dog food. First off, the store we get our food is filled with very nice people who love to talk story when you come in. I don’t. I like to walk down the aisle to the most ginormous bag of Solid Gold dog food, grab it and go. But I’ve learned that it’s going to take me a bit longer here and that’s ok. What went down this time was interesting to me.
As I was at the checkout counter, a man (I presumed that worked there) came up behind me and read the writing on my hoodie out loud and made a comment about it. This is something I kind of heard as background noise and it didn’t immediately register that he was talking TO me until the cashier stopped what she was doing, stared at me for a few moments and finally said, ‘He’s talking to you.’ Uhhhhhh, what? You came up behind me, talked behind me, made some comments but are now talking TO me?
Now, let’s back up a bit. Those who know me know I’m a bit hard of hearing. I blame the Walkman and my loud rock’n’roll music. Seriously, I played that thing as loud as I could to block out the world and though it was effective, it’s messed up my hearing. When I’m in a crowded room trying to have a conversation when there’s 2-3 other conversations going around me, I have to just give up. I can’t hear mine and I hear snippets of others and it drives me crazy. I’ll usually ask people to look at me if they’re talking to I can hear them (people have a tendency to look away while in mid-conversation. That’s fine, but I’ve stopped listening, so ya know.)
So someone coming up from behind me and staying behind but pretending I am part of this conversation is silly to me. And it’s happening more and more. We’ve walked into countless stores where some employee is strolling around and will bellow, “HELLO, LET US KNOW IF YOU NEED HELP WITH ANYTHING” while aisles away or even at some ill placed desk. Again, are you talking TO me? Or are you just yelling my way cuz it really seems like you’re just yelling my way and I’m supposed to assume I’m part of this conversation.
Look, walk into a Wal-Mart and whose at the front door waiting for you? Greeters. Those who look you in the eye, say a good morning or good day (I SAID GOOD DAY!) and I’ll respond in kind. To date, I haven’t had a Wal-Mart greeter Ninja sneak up behind me and hold a conversation while expecting me to reply. Cuz they greet, and move on. As for yesterday, there’s more.
When the cashier told me that behind me dude was talking to me I slightly turned around and said something brilliant like, “Oh.” Moving on, I expected to pay for the pup food when behind me dude (still off to my left and behind me) motioned to some pictures on the wall while talking. Again, I did not assume he was talking to me until cashier stopped (again) and looked at me (again.) I looked her in the eye and asked, “Is he talking to me? Because I don’t know if someone is talking to me unless they’re actually looking at me and making me believe that I am part of this conversation.” She just said, ‘yes’ and pointed to the wall at whatever I was supposed to be looking at. It was some weird picture/painting of a pit bull. Ok, I looked, can I pay for my food now?
What annoyed me a bit was the look I got implying that I was being rude. Me. The one who walked into your store, dropped fitty bucks, and wanted to just smile and leave. Rude was Mr. behind me dude who deems it completely acceptable to talk to people from anywhere he wants and believe that they’ll ASSume they’re part of the conversation.
I blame Obama.
But not really. I blame people who talk to others while looking at their phone and the ‘others’ don’t say PUT DOWN YOUR F*KING PHONE AND TALK TO ME. Ya know, like I do with my kids.
So to review: when speaking to someone, look them in the eye. If you do not have their attention, say something like “Excuse me, I noticed the picture on the back of your sweatshirt. Does it have a pit bull reference.” I can then say, “No, it doesn’t.” Person one can then say, “Oh, sorry. I thought maybe you were a pit mama and I have pits.” I would then finish the conversation with, “Oh, nope, we have Kuvasok. Big white dogs who shed all day and eat cheese. Have a good day.” BOOM! See how that works? A conversation. Not hard, but seemingly a lost art.
“What ho!” I said.
“What ho!” said Motty.
“What ho! What ho!”
“What ho! What ho! What ho!”
After that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation.
P.G. Wodehouse, My Man Jeeves.