Thursday, August 12, 2010


Having alluded to the fact that

"I have certain special feelings about people who feel the compulsive need to talk to me incessantly at bus stops"

I think I should probably talk about just what those feelings are. A little expository material should serve my purpose:

Talkers are so predictable. You can usually tell who they are from a mile away. Either they are already talking someone else's ear off when you come up to the bus stop or get on the bus, or they make awkward eye contact with you when they see you. Not "Hey, I know you!" awkward eye contact, nor defiant, teen-angst-related awkward eye contact, awkward eye contact. "I don't know you and I'm still going to talk to you incessantly about nothing until you can somehow, somewhere escape my clutches" eye contact.

Am I starting to get my point across?

Anyway, they start out by making awkward eye contact, which I (along with everyone else) avoid. Talkers are so predictable. I can hear their thought process out loud. It goes like this: "He must not have seen me. I'd better speak up so we can make fascinating conversation." Then they always turn their thoughts into actions. This is in general an admirable characteristic. Not in this case, however.

Then they proceed to talk. They don't, however, talk about anything in particular. They may start out with small talk, like "Nice day, isn't it?" or "Don't you hate how the 830 is always late?" These are acceptable small talks, I suppose, if I were at all interested in talking. Once they've run out of small talk, they either start talking about other random things they see ("Hey! Look at that sign!") or tell the same stories to you that they were telling the person before you, as if they were new and you hadn't heard what they were saying just a moment before, or they get up on their soapbox and start preaching to you about something which, ironically, usually isn't religious.

One day I was sitting tranquilly on the bench at Fort Union Blvd. and Highland Drive, waiting for the 72. People watching wasn't good that day, so I was reading a book. Then a lady and her son came and sat down on the bench near me. I recognized the awkward eye contact, yea, from afar off, and buried myself in the book.

She sat down and began staring at me. Yea, verily. She stared at me for at least a minute, while I heard her brain thinking "Why doesn't he look at me? I need to talk to him. No, really, I do." Then her brain finally said, and I heard it, "I'd better speak up!" So she did. She said something like "Don't teenagers these days just drive you crazy?" I considered her question honestly for about .8 seconds, which is longer than I should have, and since EFY was not in session, I answered "Nope." The "nope" also lasted for about .8 seconds, which is longer than it should have, and she proceeded to make more small talk, which yielded the same results.

After about three more tries, she gave up, and started talking to her son about everything she saw. He also gave one word answers, poor chap. Occasionally she would turn back and stare at me, and I made sure I was engrossed in my book. The bus didn't come, and didn't come, and didn't come, and finally I ran out of book! What was I supposed to do now?

Well, I did what any sensible person would have done under the same circumstances. I surreptitiously leaved back to the middle of the book and began rereading what I had already processed, and while I had little interest in what I was rereading, it was more interesting than the conversation two feet to my left.

When the bus came, I let them get on first. This is a good trick. It allows you to sit as far away from them as possible. I therefore had a peaceful ride back to the TRAX station, with no further compulsive conversation hogging my auditory nerve.

Another time, I was waiting for the 831, minding my own business, when the man sitting on the bench asked me if I believed in God. I said yes, because I do, and he proceeded to embark on a lengthy disquisition on how belief in God was a foolish, outdated thing, which I did nothing to solicit, except to exist and to be so unfortunate as to be waiting for the 831 at 9:45 in the morning (this was before the 831 started coming earlier in the mornings). His exegesis was, however, interrupted by the advent of the 831, at which point he suddenly became humble and asked "Is this the bus I take to get to University Mall?" We were now in my disquisitional court, but since I am a charitable human being, I limited my remarks to "No, you need to catch the 811." He suddenly stopped preaching and thanked me. I just got on the bus.

Those of you that have made it this far, bless you. In exchange for your trouble, here are some suggestions on how to avoid being compulsively conversed with:

1) Icy glares. Practice makes perfect.
2) Saying "excuse me", whipping out your phone and conversing animatedly in Spanish with no one, but they don't need to know that.
3) Saying "I don't usually talk to people I don't know" or "I'm sorry, I thought you had a question, but I'm not interested in conversing with you right now." If the talker is from Utah, this will discombombulate them to the point that they may never talk to anyone again.
4) Talking their ear off first, about something you care about but they probably won't (I usually use the bus). You have to be in the right mood to pull this off; don't do it cavalierly.
5) If all else fails, get up and move somewhere else. If you've tried to be nice about it, the problem is now theirs.

1 comment:

  1. I very thoroughly enjoyed this post. Thank you for the pointers.