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[P]
You've got to be brain damaged

By mfeltman in Culture
Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 06:08:31 AM EST
Tags: You Know... (all tags)
You Know...

I guess you've got to be brain damaged to not worry about stigmatizing yourself by being a decent human being. How embarrassing it is to be friendly and companionable with someone you don't know. What shameful behavior that is.


So, the holidays are kicking our asses, as usual. Christmas shopping has reached a new level of consumerism this year in our household, as my fiance and I are doing pretty well for ourselves these days.

We've a few more people on our list, and with it being the 20th, we're frantic. Holiday shopping and holiday stress intermingle and intertwine with the regular routine, which combines with the we-just-bought-a-new-house-and-oh-my-God-it-needs-work phenomenon we're now experiencing, and the pace of life is a blur. It's the same for everyone. Regardless of the actual burden (not everyone has a new house or some other major life change to deal with in concert with the holidays), people are stressed. They're not at their baseline, ordinary background level of urgency, but at a newly (if temporarily) elevated level that seems much worse than last year, even if it isn't. Everyone's a mental case.

And, in that environment, even the base, insincere pleasantries normally exchanged by strangers begin to fall by the wayside. Not all the time, of course. There are wishes of "Merry Christmas" and the suddenly more acceptable "Happy Holidays" sprinkled in with the drivers cutting you off in the parking lot. There are the occasional few who wave you ahead in line with your one Betsy Wetsy doll even though they're in just as much of a hurry as you mingling with the haggard looking soccer mom who rips the last Amazing Amanda from your fatigued fingers, feral animal snarl contorting her botoxed features. People are not, generally, on their best behavior.

And so it was in that whirlwind of indifference, thinly veiled rudeness, and outright survivalist behavior that we found ourselves at the grocery store yesterday for the closest thing to a normal routine errand we've had all week. I'm just trying to set the context here (only took me three paragraphs, eh?). Now, in the supermarket, people aren't (generally) shopping for gifts to prove their lifelong, undying love to their children and significant others, so they're at least civil. We're back to the background, baseline levels of civility. The sort of civility that makes people say "Excuse me" or "Thanks" but never "Good Afternoon!" or "Hello!". I recognize that this particular level of indifference is not universal, but neither is it unique. We're in southern New England here.

We had come for a box or two of frozen vegetables (which of course means that we ended up spending about $75 on 'really good deals'), and after forty-five minutes or so of leisurely filling a grocery cart, we ended up in line behind a shorter gentleman in plaids, overalls, and a bright orange helmet. Curly brown hair poked out all around it. I can't recall whether or not the chin strap was fastened, so you'll have to fill that bit in yourself.

I started piling my order up on the belt behind his, and, slightly annoyed that he hadn't put the divider down after his last can of beans, I reached across him with a tacit "excuse me" to do it myself.

"Oh hey I'm sorry, I should have reached that for you," he said.

"It's no problem, don't worry about it."

A long pause here. The woman ahead of helmet guy finally finishes writing her check (honestly, who still pays with a check at the grocery store??!) and the cashier greets him.

"Hey, I like your hair!" he says to her.

"Thanks," is her timid answer. The guy is, from his facial expression and tone, not quite all there. I'm beginning to think I understand why he's wearing the helmet.

"It's very unique," he says. Her hair is pale pale PALE bleached blonde. She's wearing foundation so light that her skin is practically white, and black eyeshadow extends beyond her eyelids until the entire hollow of each eye is almost completely darkened. There's a bit of mistletoe clipped to a barette on her head.

"Thanks, my boss says it looks like a tree," she answers, smiling politely.

Another long pause here. Helmet guy turns to me. Oh boy, I'm thinking, here we go.

"So how's your holiday going?" he asks.

"All right. Very busy," I smile, offering a standard platitude from my vast library of non-commital utterances.

"Tell me about it," he says. "My niece and nephew are gonna make out this year. They're the babies of the family."

"Yeah, my daughter is an only child. She's got no idea how spoiled she is."

"Yeah, the kids always get spoiled."

"But that's how it's supposed to be."

"Absolutely!" He turns to the bagger. "Hey thanks. Merrry Christmas."

The bagger, a 90-year-old looking dude with liver spots all over his loose wrinkled face grins wide. "Merry Christmas to you, sir."

Helmet guy turns back to me. "So I've been doing tree work all day. I can't wait to get home." Aha! The helmet explained. We had an ice storm a few days back, and we just had a tree removed from our street this morning because it had fallen across the road a bit. I feel bad for thinking that the helmet was for his soft head, but in my defense, it was a perfectly reasonable conclusion given his behavior and demeanor. As a matter of fact, maybe he DOES wear it all the time.

So our conversation continues for a bit, and his bags are all packed and he gets his receipt, and he's ready to leave the store as the cashier takes my shopper loyalty card. He turns back to me as he starts the carriage rolling.

"Hey, Merry Christmas. Thanks for talking with me!"

I wished him a Merry Christmas in return, but was struck with how odd it seemed for him to thank me for merely having a mostly superficial conversation with him. I wonder if most people just try to ignore him. He seems the sort of guy who tries to strike up a conversation on the bus and gets shot down, you know? I feel sort of bad for him. Then I feel sort of bad for myself. My first reaction to the guy was Oh boy, here we go... And why? Because he wanted to strike up an ordinary, friendly conversation with me for no other reason than that we were standing together in line?

Do you have to be brain damaged or developmentally challenged in order to not realize what the rest of us realize, that we're only embarrassing ourselves when we try to breed familiarity with those we share our world with? How freaking sad is it that it's an exception and not the rule when strangers strike up a conversation on the spot and talk for just a little while? Why do we need an ice-breaker? We're all human beings. We're all stuck in the same, human, condition.

I guess you've got to be brain damaged to not worry about stigmatizing yourself by being a decent human being. How embarrassing it is to be friendly and companionable with someone you don't know. What shameful behavior that is.

Good grief.

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You've got to be brain damaged | 66 comments (52 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
Not to be overly mean, but (2.20 / 5) (#2)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 12:18:30 PM EST

why in HELL would we vote for this?

----------------

Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.

Well for instance (3.00 / 2) (#3)
by jolly st nick on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 12:28:38 PM EST

if it will well written and thought provoking, with keen observations finished off with a bit of wit, then we might want to vote for it. Imagine this piece as written by V.S. Naipul.

I realize what I just described isn't the piece as it now stands. However, it is in the edit queue after all.

[ Parent ]

Exactly. (none / 0) (#19)
by Egil Skallagrimson on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:19:35 PM EST

What's all this about comments, then?

----------------

Enterobacteria phage T2 is a virulent bacteriophage of the T4-like viruses genus, in the family Myoviridae. It infects E. coli and is the best known of the T-even phages. Its virion contains linear double-stranded DNA, terminally redundant and circularly permuted.
[ Parent ]

Perhaps because... (none / 0) (#61)
by Eccles on Sun Jan 01, 2006 at 11:34:32 PM EST

...sixty plus people found it an interesting enough subject to post on it?

[ Parent ]
eh where is the point? (3.00 / 6) (#4)
by nietsch on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 12:32:49 PM EST

What exactly is the point of this diary entry? Do you feel sad about feeling embarrassed to talk to people you don't know? You do realise that obstruction is in your own head, so you are able to do something about it? (like talking to strangers more).
It is something you can learn, and part of that is indeed picking up the signs when you are talking to somebody who does not want to talk to you. It is a cultural thing, In other cultures people will sit next to you in the empty bus and start talking. If nobody cares about it, why should you feel embarassed about it? Do you care that much about other people?
 

I think it's a common obstruction (none / 0) (#7)
by mfeltman on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 01:13:00 PM EST

in fact, I think it's indoctrinated in us by our culture, and I think it's something everyone's aware of but no one is compelled to change.  And I wonder why not.


whisper.


[ Parent ]
Sufficiently brain damaged (2.25 / 4) (#9)
by LilDebbie on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 01:30:57 PM EST

Insecure fucks

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

I'm sure there's something profound here (none / 0) (#10)
by mfeltman on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 01:36:29 PM EST

which is readily evidenced by the profanity, but maybe you could elucidate a bit as I'm slow.

:-)


whisper.


[ Parent ]

There's nothing stopping you (3.00 / 2) (#14)
by LilDebbie on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 01:50:11 PM EST

from engaging in conversation with strangers except your own insecurity. The profanity is to convey my contempt for such persons.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
you're absolutely right (none / 0) (#16)
by mfeltman on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 01:53:58 PM EST

but it's an affliction I share with 99.9% of everybody else.

The mentally handicapped seem to be better at this than me and most of my peers.


whisper.


[ Parent ]

They have a natural advantage (3.00 / 3) (#18)
by LilDebbie on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:10:06 PM EST

of knowing no one will ever care if they make a faux pas or saying the wrong thing.

The rest of us have to realize that it doesn't matter if other people care what we say (beyond legal concerns).

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]

well right (none / 1) (#21)
by mfeltman on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:24:40 PM EST

it's about a lack of inhibition.  It's just sort of tragically sad that folks who are mentally "inferior" tend to be better human beings than folks who aren't.  At least, it seems that way a great deal of the time.


whisper.


[ Parent ]
retarded people rely on other humans (none / 0) (#57)
by auraslip on Fri Dec 30, 2005 at 07:39:53 AM EST

so being a "good" person is sort of a necisity to survive.
124
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't even read this (2.00 / 4) (#12)
by thekubrix on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 01:39:40 PM EST

while taking a crap

yeah I've tried balancing my laptop on my knees (none / 1) (#13)
by mfeltman on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 01:43:53 PM EST

Isn't WiFi awesome?

But inevitably you've got to strain a bit at the end and then things just get awkward.  I wouldn't try it either, having already been down that road.


whisper.


[ Parent ]

you know the road (2.00 / 2) (#17)
by mfeltman on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 01:55:20 PM EST

that long, brown, slightly moist road...


whisper.


[ Parent ]
use a small step ladder (none / 0) (#23)
by thekubrix on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 04:44:02 PM EST

duh?

[ Parent ]
just play WoW (none / 1) (#20)
by actmodern on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 02:20:12 PM EST

they have a bunch of quests for Winterfall or whatever winter harvest thing.


--
LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.
scrooge (3.00 / 2) (#22)
by CAIMLAS on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 03:40:04 PM EST

I'm a scrooge; I've not bought anyone a present this year, whatsoever. I've got a couple things (venison jerky, some needed replacement drill bits for my dad - who never seems to get them replaced when he needs to, etc.) that I'll be giving to family at Christmas time, yes, but nothing of "consumer value".

I've also told family and friends that I don't want anything for Christmas - I'm perfectly content with what I have.

You're being a part of the problem while griping about it. That's hypocritical.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

believe me, I understand (none / 0) (#24)
by mfeltman on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 05:14:22 PM EST

the peer pressure year after year after year finally just gets tedious, especially when your gf/fiance is in on it.  Especially when your whole family insists on buying you gifts anyway and you end up looking like a douche bag.


whisper.


[ Parent ]
Stop accepting gifts (none / 0) (#64)
by FattMattP on Tue Jan 03, 2006 at 07:24:24 PM EST

Make it clear that you don't want to participate. Tell them that you don't want gifts. Repeat it often. When you get gifts anyway (and you will), don't accept them. Return them and tell them that you told them that you didn't want gifts. It takes about two years for it to sink in. Then you are out of the "system" and don't get bothered by all of the holiday bullshit. Believe me, it's really worth the effort.

[ Parent ]
Feral animal soccer mom (2.50 / 2) (#28)
by GreenYoda on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 06:56:16 PM EST

I was going to vote "dump", but this lovely verbiage bumped it up to "abstain":

...the haggard looking soccer mom who rips the last Amazing Amanda from your fatigued fingers, feral animal snarl contorting her botoxed features".

+1 fp (none / 0) (#29)
by supersocialist on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 07:15:05 PM EST

I really enjoyed reading. It sure is sad.

Touching, but no Charlie Brown type insights (none / 1) (#30)
by thankyougustad on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 09:15:37 PM EST



No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

It's not a problem all over the world. (2.33 / 3) (#31)
by daani on Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 11:06:43 PM EST

Here, in Thailand, everyone is happy to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Not just with foriegnors either, they do it with locals and other Asians too.

Thai's will tell you they feel sorry for you, having grown up in such an unfriendly environment. There are some things they can learn from us, sure, but we have a lot to learn from them too.

Not the same (none / 1) (#32)
by Kal on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 12:09:07 AM EST

All over the US either. I moved recently from the east coast, where the kind of attitude he's talking about is the norm, to the mid west and it's a world of difference. I've had more conversations with strangers here in the last few months than I ever did all the time I lived back east.

[ Parent ]
Annoying (2.66 / 6) (#38)
by rusty on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 12:20:12 PM EST

I lived in the south for a while, and it was constantly annoying how everyone wanted to make conversation all the time instead of doing whatever it was you were paying them to do. Like ordering a meal always took ten extra minutes, because the waitress had to ask you how y'all was doin' today and weren't the weather just byootiful and all kinds of other pointless crap. It eventually got so I took 1% off the tip for every extra minute of Southern Charm I had to endure.

But then, I am a dyed-in-the-wool Grumpy Easterner, so I suppose it's just what you'd expect. All I can say is I'm glad there is a part of this country where I can expect to be left the hell alone in public.

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

I suppose to each their own (none / 1) (#40)
by mfeltman on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 12:56:10 PM EST

I just think that wilfull isolation seems a bit sad.  I can understand where you're coming from, though.  It could be overdone.  If I had to stop and chat with everyone I passed on the way to my office I'd arrive three days late and I'd be chewing nails to boot.  So.. moderation?  I dunno.

Anyway wow my story has been voted up by rusty.  I feel strangely validated.


whisper.


[ Parent ]

Context? (none / 0) (#63)
by paranoid on Tue Jan 03, 2006 at 11:49:17 AM EST

Can't people behave in a way appropriate to the situation? There are all sorts of verbal and non-verbal ques showing whether the other person wants to chat. If he is smiling, looking you into the eyes, being active, looks genuinly interested, continue the conversation. If he is indifferent, looks bored, frequently gazes around or at his watch, shut up and do what you need to do. It's not rocket science. We can be both friendly to others and respect their privacy and solitude when they need it.

[ Parent ]
Totally true (none / 0) (#62)
by GooseKirk on Tue Jan 03, 2006 at 12:29:25 AM EST

I live in Colombia (which, yes, thank you, I'm aware that everyone who's never actually been here thinks it's scary and dangerous and nothing but drugs and kidnapping... and please keep thinking that, by the way). The difference in culture is incredible. It helps that I'm a gringo in a country where not many gringos come, but even still, the warmth and humanity and general decency of Colombians is astonishing, compared to the US. It's completely normal here for strangers to chat in a grocery line, or anywhere else. Colombians who've been to the US or have relatives there talk about how cold the Americans are... and they're right. We have a fucked-up culture. Me, I blame the car-based lifestyle, the sprawl, the geographical splintering of families, the sterile mechanization of the Wal-Marts and Taco Bells, and the general culture of fear. It's not true for ALL of the US, just most of it. You really don't know what you're missing until you experience something better.

[ Parent ]
teh downs (none / 1) (#35)
by tkatchevzombie on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 09:11:56 AM EST



I recently went to talk to a woman (2.60 / 5) (#36)
by HollyHopDrive on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 09:36:08 AM EST

who was crying in the middle of the street. I keep meaning to write a diary about it but it would be very long.

Essentially, she was alone and with serious money troubles. By the time we parted, she was smiling and seemed much happier. Funny, since I hadn't found her a match or given her a penny. Just some listening, a few sympathetic and encouraging words, and maybe 20 minutes of my life.


I make too much sense to be on the Internet.

well done (1.50 / 2) (#39)
by SaintPort on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 12:50:48 PM EST

thou good and faithful servant,
enter in...

<><

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Thank you. (2.75 / 4) (#42)
by HollyHopDrive on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 05:59:49 PM EST

But it wasn't really a selfless act. I couldn't have lived with myself if I'd just walked past her and left her crying.


I make too much sense to be on the Internet.
[ Parent ]

And that's what makes it real (none / 0) (#47)
by SaintPort on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 07:53:14 AM EST

and not just work of the flesh.

<><

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

I do the same thing (none / 0) (#49)
by CodeWright on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 04:42:53 PM EST

But the Flying Spaghetti Monster had nothing to do with it.

It was the shared human condition.

You know, compassion.

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
perhaps the FSM will observe your (none / 0) (#50)
by SaintPort on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 05:43:55 PM EST

compassion, and grant you grace.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]
don't my actions themselves... (none / 1) (#51)
by CodeWright on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:46:41 PM EST

...generate their own grace?

it seems spurious to suggest that st. nick weighs whether i'm naughty or nice and then provides me with bonus XP if i play my alignment right.

--
A: Because it destroys the flow of conversation.
Q: Why is top posting dumb? --clover_kicker

[ Parent ]
yeah, but its not (none / 0) (#54)
by SaintPort on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 08:11:25 PM EST

FSM grace.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]
I'd like to do things like that (3.00 / 6) (#41)
by The Diary Section on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 02:43:17 PM EST

but I'd end up arrested probably. I was once approached by a lost child at a tourist attraction.   A lot of people were just walking past. I worked there at the time, but I wasn't in uniform yet. Tricky. It was awful, I spent the whole time walking over to the lost children place ("hey kid, stay close to me now its busy here, er but not too close please") thinking someone was going to accuse me of something and waiting for a punch in the back of the head from the errant parents. Actually, worst thing about it was the kid had been crying and was not making a good job of wiping up the snot. It was everywhere. I was dying to give his face and hands a good wipe, but touching is like another 7 years in the slammer isnt it. Of course I was also getting dirty looks; what on earth had I done to the kid they were wondering. What a bad father I must be... They were all taking mental snapshots ready for the Crimewatch reconstruction.

Our society is fucked up beyond all reason. We're pushed apart from each other by fear.
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]

You should do them. (3.00 / 2) (#43)
by HollyHopDrive on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 06:02:40 PM EST

If things do start to get impossibly sticky, you can walk away, knowing you did your best. But they are important. I don't think anyone forgets a kind stranger. It's almost more touching than being helped by a loved one, because the stranger doesn't actually have any reason to be doing it.


I make too much sense to be on the Internet.
[ Parent ]

A possible idea (none / 1) (#55)
by coffee17 on Mon Dec 26, 2005 at 09:16:24 PM EST

If you are ever in the same circumstance. Make eye contact with either a woman or a mixed couple, explain the circumstances, your (rightful) paranoia and ask if they'd escort you and the child to the missing children booth.

I think being on the spot like you were, I'd probably do the same thing as you did though.

-coffee


[ Parent ]

WTF (none / 0) (#58)
by MotorMachineMercenary on Fri Dec 30, 2005 at 11:26:49 AM EST

If the first thing people think when they see a guy in his late twenties/early thirties (?) escorting a crying child is pedophilia or abduction, it's their fucked up values that are to blame. And if you feel uncomfortable in that situation, you are as much to blame for being fucked up by media frenzy over pedos and kidnappers.

I would've just held kid's hand and took him to the meeting point.

--
"What's next, sigging a k5er quote about sigging someone on k5?"


[ Parent ]
well (none / 1) (#37)
by m a r c on Wed Dec 21, 2005 at 10:46:52 AM EST

when you live in a society when expected isolation is the norm, of course your going to feel a bit weird with superficial conversations. I'm not saying isolated all the time, but on the train, the bus, in a shop any public place by yourself. Its like you need a good reason to talk to someone, rather than have a reason not too. With so many people in the world no wonder everyone decides its too much bother to deal with pleasantries.

Notice how there is even an order you have to sit on the bus to ensure that you are as isolated as possible. Next time your on a bus sit down next to someone when there is a free seat and see the reaction.

Personally, I like the whole single serving friend thing... If you don't like the banality of it then its really up to you to ask something more interesting, after all no one is forcing you into this charade.

And when did making eye contact with people in the street become such a bad thing...
I got a dog and named him "Stay". Now, I go "Come here, Stay!". After a while, the dog went insane and wouldn't move at all.

I think it's risk aversion and exhaustion. (none / 0) (#48)
by skyknight on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 02:56:39 PM EST

All the same, I enjoyed your piece.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
World we live in... (none / 0) (#52)
by sick puppy on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:56:04 PM EST



For the last two weeks I've paid for (none / 0) (#53)
by bamcquern on Sat Dec 24, 2005 at 12:47:12 PM EST

my groceries with checks.  It's fun.

Amusing (none / 0) (#56)
by John Miles on Thu Dec 29, 2005 at 12:47:44 AM EST

Something similar, but quite a bit more annoying, happened to me at the grocery store the other day.

It was evidently Liquid Replenishment Day in my household, because I found myself standing in line with a wire-handled basket with two gallon jugs in it -- milk and OJ -- and I was holding two fridge packs of Coke in the other arm. The conveyor belt was empty except for a few items down at the end where the checker stands. He'd trundled off to fetch his customer's cigarettes or Sudafed or whatever other quasi-legal substance he'd been asked to fetch. There was plenty of room on the belt for all my heavy stuff, not to mention the stalk of celery being clutched by the diminutive woman in front of me.

For some reason I wasn't privy to at the time, she was standing all the way behind the belt, almost blocking the narrow aisle between the registers. I squeezed past her ("Excuse me") to put my stuff on the belt at the far end, leaving plenty of room (and a divider) for her celery, should she choose to avail herself of it.

"I'm ahead of you, sir," she chirped.

"Yeah, well, normally, you put your stuff on the belt and use the dividers to separate the orders," I replied, trying to sound helpful in case she was just off the boat from someplace where stranger customs prevailed.

"Well. I'm just trying to give this gentleman some privacy."

She's standing eight feet from the credit-card keypad down at the far end of the belt, which the current customer's not even using. Bear in mind that this chick is almost too short to reach the keypad, much-less shoulder-surf anybody using it. She must have accumulated a lifetime of experience compensating for her inadequate Y-dimension with AH-factor.

So yeah, I guess it's important to be solicitous of someone holding a credit card, but not so much of someone holding 34 pounds of awkwardly-packaged beverages. Lesson learned.

For so long as men do as they are told, there will be war.

Nostalgia (none / 0) (#65)
by The Diary Section on Sat Jan 07, 2006 at 02:48:03 AM EST

...just remembering when my girlfriends cigarettes and a shot of sudafed was a good night in. Happy days, simpler pleasures..
Spend 10 minutes in the company of an American and you end up feeling like a Keats or a Shelley: Thin, brilliant, suave, and desperate for industrial-scale quantities of opium.
[ Parent ]
in short, yes (none / 0) (#59)
by jcarnelian on Sat Dec 31, 2005 at 09:44:26 AM EST

If you thought the behavior was unusual or inappropriate, chances are it was. It may have simply been bad judgement on his part, he may be excentric, or he may actually have a problem. If you think more friendly chit-chat would help the world, then by all means go ahead and try it. But there are usually reasons behind the way people behave, and inappropriate familiarity will set off alarm bells in many people, and rightfully so.

Not necessarily... (none / 0) (#60)
by skyknight on Sun Jan 01, 2006 at 11:14:49 AM EST

Sometimes group psychology drives a group towards one particular behavior pattern that is wholly arbitrary. Every newcomer does what everyone is already doing so as to blend into the crowd and the decision cascades. This is why innovation is often such a powerfully disruptive force. It's not that what everyone is doing is so great. Rather, everyone is just behaving in a highly risk averse fashion, going with the proven option, no matter how sub-optimal it may be.

It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
[ Parent ]
Nice diary (none / 0) (#66)
by rogun on Sun Feb 19, 2006 at 12:34:32 AM EST

I've thought about the same thing myself many times. In general, I'm not a very social person and I often end up being friendly in an awkward manner when trying to work on it. It took me some time to feel comfortable being outwardly friendly, but if someone looks at me funny now I consider them awkward instead.

As a kid I didn't trust people who smiled too much, because most of them seemed insincere. I didn't believe in saying anything in a crowd unless it was in some way profound. But then I realized that it didn't matter; you can be insincere or just silly and still have an impact spreading cheer. Besides, unless you know a person well, you're making hasty judgements about them that are often times wrong: that insincere person may just feel awkward being friendly himself.

The guy in the orange hat may draw some strange looks, but he can count on the little bit of effort he makes to be friendly paying off in ways that will never appear for those who make no effort. What does he have to lose? Certainly not his health.

You've got to be brain damaged | 66 comments (52 topical, 14 editorial, 0 hidden)
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