Why are people so afraid of silence? There is nothing wrong with not talking, and that is coming from me, so that ought to say volumes!
Whether it is the people on the bus that insist on talking to you, for no reason whatsoever and frequently despite your very obvious intentions not to talk to anyone (reading a book and wearing headphones!) or the old lady in the food court who has to comment to you that your son is covered in chocolate – yeah, I know, I bought the donut for him – it seems that our culture has developed this amazing fear of silence.
Few people seem to understand the need for quiet, the need to listen to the inner voices of your body and mind, the need to hear nothing at all, if even for a short time. We are inundated every minute of every hour of every bloody day with people trying to tell us something or sell us something or convert our opinions and beliefs to their own – we need that down time to just let our brains rest for a few moments.
And, when we are routinely interrupted by complete strangers for no reason other than their compulsive need to fill up the empty air, as though empty air was in some manner threatening, these strangers rarely have anything of substance to say. Were I to have my morning crossword solve interrupted by someone who wanted to educate me on the situation in Egypt, or to advise me on the state of our nation’s finances, I might be more understanding. But no, what is it they want to comment on??? The damned weather.
Walking to pick up Noah from school today, my quiet and introspective walk was interrupted by a stranger, not even a denizen of our neighborhood. I know this because he was hanging up a for sale sign on a house where I have met the owners. And when I did not hear his statement the first time, and not wanting to be rude replied to his unheard statement with a “Sorry, I didn’t catch that?” he said… “looks like winter is finally here.”
“Winter is finally here”???? It’s the damned end of January you moron! There is ten inches of snow on the ground, and there has been for over a month. It happens every damned year, and has since this part of the world separated from Pangea and drifted over here, say… a gazillion frickin’ years ago!
I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk to one another. Communication is important. Essential even. But small talk among strangers passing each other on the street simply isn’t important. A nod. A smile. A friendly “Afternoon” and we’ll get along just fine. But for the love of all that is decent and holy in this world, don’t make random comments about the weather. We’ve all noticed it, seeing as how we have a few senses and frankly, it’s not even remotely interesting.
And dear lord, please don’t ask how I am without waiting for an answer. And when I do answer you, don’t automatically say “Great!” because I am playing a game with you when you do that. If you ask me “How’s it going” or something of the like as we pass in the hall, I almost always answer “Suffering from clinical depression” or “been told I’ll be losing a limb on Saturday” or my personal favorite “I’m too mad to care.” Invariably you’ll say, “Great!” and keep on walking. If. You. Don’t. Want. To. Know. Don’t. Ask.
Unless of course, it starts raining frogs. If I am on the bus and frogs begin to fall from the sky, and I don’t notice because I have my nose buried in a book and my headphones on, then I would appreciate it if you’d tap me on the shoulder and say “Interesting weather we’re having today hmm? And by the way, how are you feeling?” That’s the bright line for me… amphibians falling from the sky. Though I wouldn’t mind a heads up if it was raining reptiles either.