Friday, September 02, 2005

Not the elevator ride!

Have you ever been in a situation where you had to engage in small talk?

Generally speaking, I am very shy.
There are certain situations that compel me to overcome my bashfulness and be more amenable.
One of those scenarios would be my job. There is quite a bit of communication over the telephone and an occasional meeting with someone outside of the office.
Then there is the cashier or other store personnel of a retail or grocery store. I believe in always giving a smile and at least asking them how their day is going.
Of course, there is the wait staff at restaurants. The service you receive can be impacted by your personable skills.
In addition, there are many other social settings, gatherings, parties etc. that being timid is not beneficial.

If I am presented with the opportunity of meeting someone new, I try to embrace it. The ritual of meeting someone new, a lot of times, involves being introduced to a stranger by someone you know. Having a familiar face near you in this situation tends to make the encounter easier.
However, there are times in your life that you must go unaccompanied into the world. This is where your superior ability of social skills (the gift of gab) behooves you. You are able to make a choice of either being a wallflower ~ totally ignored, or you can be the social butterfly ~ the life of the party. We all know that being the life of the party is way more fun. So, if there is any way possible, the introvert should be out.

Nevertheless, there is one situation where I always feel the most uncomfortable. The level of uncomfortable ness can even vary from each instance.
This would be the elevator ride.
The elevator takes me to my work place destination on a daily basis, even several times a day.
The first scenario is the approach to the elevator. Sometimes, there is someone or several people standing in the lobby waiting for the arrival of the elevator. When you arrive to join the other person (or group of people), there is either silence or the beginnings of your small talk…
“good morning”, “how are you today”, “well, it’s hump day, middle of the week”, “hi, gosh I am glad it’s Friday”, “wow, the weather sure has been hot lately”, “it sure is taking a while for the elevator, I wonder if it’s working”, “oh, here it comes, I think this is the only one working today”.
I can’t stand that small talk. You are just there, on your own, with no friend to share the stiffness with.
Sometimes, while on your way to the elevator, someone has already stepped on and you are not sure if they are holding it or not. You need to make the decision whether you are going to hustle there in time to jump on or have the door close in your face. When you make the decision to not hustle, that seems to be the time someone will stick their head out of the doors and say “Going up?” Then you reply as you pick up the pace, “Oh yes, I wasn’t sure if you were holding it or not”.
Now for the actual ride itself.
If you are on the elevator by yourself, you wonder if you will make it to your floor without stopping to let on a new arrival.
TWO, THREE, Ding, STOP, doors open, in walks an unfamiliar person.
Have you ever noticed how people look up when confined in that small shaft? What are they looking at? Sometimes, you will see people looking down, but mostly up. So, I try to look right at a person. (If you have read my profile, I don’t like predictability in a person). I don’t do it to make someone else uncomfortable, but because I feel uncomfortable doing what everyone else is doing (looking up).
Ok, stay with me now.
Someone has walked in, the doors close and you proceed to your destination. Who is going to break the ice? It feels way too strange to be in such a small place with another person (strange person) and no one says a word. Is silence more uncomfortable than the meaningless small talk? YES!
So, here goes… "Hi, how are you?” “Fine, how are you?” “Good…well, the day is half way over now, I’m glad” “Yeah, me too”…….FIVE, SIX, Ding (oh yea, my floor) STOP, doors open, “Ok, have a good day!” “You too!”
Whew! That is over, thank goodness.
See what I mean?
I mean, no one would ever be able to tell that I feel completely uncomfortable in that situation, but underneath, oh yes, I truly do! I think the uncomfortable feeling is compounded by the fact that the other person (people) appears awkward and uneasy.
That is kind of tough for someone that is shy by nature.
All in all, I enjoy talking to people, but that meaningless small talk with a stranger is not easy, especially in the confines of an elevator.
Most of the time, the more you are exposed to a situation the easier it gets.
Not the elevator ride!
Have a good holiday weekend everyone ~ Cya!


BadGod said...

I would would just whip out my boobs if I were you. I think that is better than trying to make small talk.

Lee Ann said...

badgod - that is exactly what my boyfriend says. Sounds like you two are on the same wave length. Gosh, that is incredible that you both would say that.

robmcj said...

Lee Ann. It depends on the party. But I know what you mean. I was painfully shy, until I became a teacher. Nowadays, I'm only shy outside the classroom. Occasionally I find myself so laid back talking to a class, that I'm thinking "can I be bothered finishing this sentence? Not really." I shouldn't be admitting this.

Holiday weekend? Not on these islands. Fortunately, low-ambition types like me and hotboy work part-time, and every weekend's a long one. Here comes another one!

Lee Ann said...

robmcj - Hey! You sound a little like me. I cannot afford to be shy at work, so I just get over it. However, I really am by nature. Do you teach a specific subject or grade? I had a part time job for a while (nearly 4 years)and I did not know what a weekend was. This weekend is Labor Day weekend (Over the years, Labor Day has evolved from a purely labor union celebration into a general last fling of summer festival).

mojoala said...

that's why I take the stairs any time I can.

Plus it is healthier.

I hate small talk too with a passion!

okay, boyfriend and badgod are perb!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The Husband said...

very, very good blog today lee ann. i sometimes find myself looking up, not sure why. if its in the morning and i haven't had my coffee yet i usually remain silent. however, later on in the day i'll talk to anyone.

Edge said...

There are 5 levels of intimacy in conversation.

1. Cliches
2. Facts
3. Opinions
4. Needs
5. Feelings

Most of our life is spent in 1-3. Only good relationships reach 4-5. Elevators never merit anthing above 1-2.


Lee Ann said...

Mojo - The stairs are definitely the healthier way! What guy wouldn't want what boyfriend and badgod suggest? hahaha

Carl - Thank you. LOL, see, it's like Pavlovian conditioning! Ding, doors close, look up! hahah :) So you are also saying that you are not much of a morning person, huh? Will there be elevators at the convention?

Jef - Yeah, I like 4 and 5 the best!

hotboy said...

Hump day? Do they have hump days in Alabama? Sound very progressive. We've only got Mother's Day!

The Zombie Lama said...

I completely forgot what I was going to say once I read the "boob" comments....

Lee Ann said...

hotboy - haha, hump day is Wednesday! "used in the context of climbing a proverbial hill to get through a tough week." I can see your mind working! Not what you thought, huh?

Zombie - *grin* you like that, eh?

Dave Morris said...

Lee Ann, I would just whip out my boobs if I were you.

I don't really think so, I just wanted to be in the club with badgod and your boyfriend.

Alecia said...

I think I'm a looker-upper in elevators. Oh no.

The Zombie Lama said...

About the joke - its just making fun of all the jokes that start that way...

Lee Ann said...

Dave - haha, yes, no? You really didn't convince me when you added that: "I don't really think so, I just wanted to be in the club with badgod and your boyfriend. " Sorry, but it just wasn't convincing.

Alecia - Hey! That's ok. Honestly you aren't the only one. See that elevator small talk is the worst, isn't it?

Lee Ann said...

Zombie - hahah, I know....and that is funny!!!!! tehehe

Spinning Girl said...

I feign deafness; once aboard, I face the back corner, autism-like, until I get to my floor. Nobody talks to ME.

ticharu said...

Elevators are sooo much fun! I ride in one so rarely I hardly know how they work, and since I practically live outside I make quite an impression some days, especially if I've been working hard, haha, and then knowing that no one will say anything, and that they are especially uncomfortable so close to me (is he homeless?) I stare at them and smile and just think to myself, 'I am the best sex you will never have'

BeckEye said...

Yeah, I hate small talk. There's only so much you can say about the weather.

Of course, during football season we Pittsburghers can ALWAYS talk to absolutely anyone about the Steelers and it's never small talk. All you have to do is say "How 'bout those Steelers?" and a 20 minute conversation is underway.

Lee Ann said...

spinning girl ~ hey! Now that is truly an interesting approach! I can imagine that no one would talk to you, it is hard enough to talk to someone that you think could possibly listen. I doubt I would have the nerve to try that one. hahaha

Hey Ticharu ~ You know, I can bet they would sense that about the sex thing....and have many regrets! ;) Nice!

Beckeye ~ You are right about the football conversation. We don't have a pro team here, but the Alabama and Auburn football is enough to get people all fired up! There just isn't anything bigger here in Alabama than their college football. =)

Eddo said...

Hey, you left comments on my site and I thought you were a different Lee Ann!

Lee Ann said...

eddo - Hey! There are not a lot of us Lee Ann'! Thanks for stopping by.

Lindsey said...

Awww. You poor thing...that elevator scenario is super uncomfortable. I had the same thing happen to me at a training walk that I'm doing for breast cancer. None of us knew each other so when I walked up everyone was just staring at me and one another. They tried to smile and make small talk but there is just something about not knowing anyone and thinking they're all staring at you and thinking you're weird.

Fred said...

I used to fly a lot; many times the person next to me wanted to tell me their life story.

That's why I always carried a newspaper with me. If I sat next to one of those people, I would immediately pull out the paper, and put it as close to my face as I could.

I hate to make small talk to strangers.

midwest_hick said...

I guess I've never had that problem....but then I'm not exactly a shy person....imagine that huh?

Rob Seifert said...

Small talk is a pain in the ass. I think the trick is to actually be intersted in what people have to say and make it about them rather than you. People love to be listened to.


The Everglades said...

I am so against small talk. I hate it. I'd rather be silent or be overly patronizing. But I can't find a spec of geniuniness in small talk.


Lee Ann said...

linny ~ Hey! Thanks for stopping by. Small talk to strangers is just uncomfortable. Good job doing a breast cancer walk!

Fred ~ Hey! Yeah, flying is another one of those situations of small talk weirdness. It's almost worse when you get someone that starts trying to get to know you. On my most recent flight, I had a guy sitting next to me that wouldn't stop talking. He even followed right next to me talking after we arrived at the airport and were headed for baggage. He cut the conversation when my boyfriend was there to greet me. :)

Mike ~ you are one of those people that have been blessed with "the gift of gab". My brother is the same way...his name is Michael too!

RCS ~ I agree. If I am presented with a situation that requires small talk for a prolonged period, I try to make it all about the other person as well.

Blake ~ You are right, no genuiness in small talk. I always try to say hello to a stranger in passing, but to actually carry on a conversation is a different matter all together. Not so easy!