It's not that I feel that no one should speak to me. It's just that I have trouble excusing myself from a conversation I did not initiate. If I start a conversation with a stranger at the bank, a restaurant or a fair, I have the ability to step away if the conversation heads south or was not as interesting as I thought it would be. On the flip side, if I was the one approached, I feel trapped when I am done talking.
There is an elderly woman who I run into several days every week. She is incredibly sweet and giving. However, she seems to have no idea how a conversation works. As soon as she sees me, she launches into detailed descriptions of the new job her grandson has, how hard her daughter is working to implement a new program in town, her opinion of a recent news item and dozens of other topics. What she doesn't talk about is anything I might be even remotely interested in hearing about. She also makes no attempt to look for any cues that I am interested in the conversation or even gives me a chance to speak. She will stand in front of my desk and talk for 45 minutes without taking a breath.
I understand that she is an old lady and might be lonely and just wants someone to talk to. I get it, but I also think that after 70-plus years on this earth, she should have developed some acceptable social skills that would make it more tolerable to be in the same room with her. Maybe this is why she's lonely. And uses a cane.
It's not just people that I have to talk to that get under my skin. There are a lot of people that I decide very quickly I don't like and feel no guilt about judging:
- People who block aisles at the store - Every time I walk into Wal-Mart, I run into one of these self-absorbed troglodytes. When I shop, I hug the shelves with my cart to leave the rest of the aisle clear. If I stop to grab something, I only stop for a moment and I stay against the side so other shoppers can get around me. About a third of the shoppers at my local Wal-Mart do not understand this basic concept and/or have no respect for other people. I have witnessed countless people leave their cart in the middle of the aisle while they stare at soup, blocking traffic from both sides. Some of them are rude enough to ignore me when I clear my throat (in case they didn't realize I was there), verbally protest or flip their cart over. These people need to shop online.
- Anyone who wears a fanny pack - Do I really need to explain?
- People who can't drive - I am amazed at the number of people who don't understand how a turn lane works. The main street through my town is a four-lane road with a turn lane in the middle. Almost daily, I am pulling off a side street, but am trapped behind someone who wants to turn left and will not pull out until traffic is clear on all sides. There is a turn lane in the middle! Pull into the turn lane when this side is clear and then merge into traffic at the next opportunity. The same goes for turning off the main road onto a side street. Get into the turn lane to slow down. Don't impede traffic!
- Fork biters - Use your lips to pull food off your fork, don't bite down in it. Not only will it not damage your teeth, but will prevent that horrible screeching/grinding sound that drills into my brain stem and might make me choke you to stop your breathing since that now irritates me too.
- People who try to tell me what I believe. - Whether we are talking about my political party, my church denomination, or policies at my place of employment, don't tell me what I believe. I already know. If for some reason, you have already done this, and I inform you that you are mistaken, STOP IMMEDIATELY and remember who you are talking to. I am the owner of my own mind. I seem to have a talent for finding people that mention the belief or philosophy of a group I am affiliated with. Misinformation happens and I have no problem with that, but when I advise that it is not true, drop it. If I belong to that organization, I will know better than someone who does not.
- People who routinely steer conversations toward their illness or medications - There are genuinely unhealthy individuals. I have no problem with them. The ones I am referring to are the people who use their illness or 'pretended illness' as a way to cry for attention. Plus, the ones who do this the most are usually in the 'pretended illness' category. I know people who have cancer and rarely mention it. I do not need to hear about your newest prescription every time I speak with you. I don't care that you changed doctors. I don't need the details of your latest emergency room visit. I don't mind an update now and then, but do not appreciate a 20 minute conversation about your irritable bowel syndrome every time I see you. And you wonder why I never stop by to visit.
- People who use the phrase, just sayin' - First, I know you were saying it. You just said it. I heard you. You don't need to reaffirm that. Second, it is usually said after the speaker says something they think might not be taken well. The tag at the end doesn't soften the message and just irritates me further. Just sayin'.
- People who offend easily - I cannot stand to talk to a person who makes me feel that I have to watch my every word. There is a huge difference between something being offensive and you being offended. I have offended people just by asking about their family. If that question is so offensive to you, then maybe you should stay at home in a protective little bubble. People have had to defend themselves in court, lost friendships or been fired from their jobs because a comment is taken to be racist, sexist or intolerant. I am not suggesting that people should never get offended. Some things are offensive. However, many people look for something to be offended about and have caused way too much trouble when no offense was intended.
- Pretty much anyone under the age of 15 - I don't like kids. It's not really a secret.
- People with a sense of entitlement - Unless you actually gave someone a loan, NO ONE OWES YOU ANYTHING!!! The government owes you nothing. Your parents owe you nothing. Your friends owe you nothing. The sooner you realize this, the less you will be disappointed, and the happier you will be.
- People who get mad when they encounter someone of a differing opinion than their own - I know some Democrats who can't be friends with Republicans and vice versa. I've experienced the same with different religious affiliations and fans of different sports teams. Most people are not like this, but there are those idiots who cannot associate with people who have different allegiances than themselves. I actually got into a fight with a friend once who insisted that steaks should be well done. I like mine medium-rare and have no preference as to how his should have been prepared, but my choice was too disturbing to him. This was the same guy who got upset when I didn't take his advice to buy a pickup truck and bought a car instead. People who thought differently than him made him mad. We are not friends anymore. He didn't agree with that decision either.
I'm kidding, of course. I am not better than other people...except the fanny packs wearers. I am much better than them.