Social etiquette

I just absolutely hate small talk, it’s so unnecessary. People force it on you by asking the same tired old questions, and they think they’re being nice, but all they’re doing is inconveniencing you. The classic is, “So what do you do?” and I just sigh and roll my eyes… For fuck’s sake, do they really care? Really? Or are they just giving me my turn first, so that they can then proudly tell me that they’re a Regional Supervising Technical District Executive Assistant of a Plastic Dog Turd factory? Who cares? ‘What do I do?’ It’s such a bizarre question when you think about it. “What do I do? I eat, sleep, and shit. What do you do?!”

Wouldn’t it be great if in a forced upon meeting you could just ask each other a few qualifying questions in order to determine if it’s worth wasting your breath on each other? It would save so much time!

– Hey, did you see the game last night?

– Nope! I have no interest in organised sports!

– Terrific!

– What’s your opinion on the RSC’s new production of Henry V?

– I have no idea what those words mean!

– Wonderful! Good luck in the coming business year, and let’s never speak to each other again!

There’s also the unwritten rule about how to greet someone you kinda sorta know but never really speak to. What happens when you see them on the street? Do you simply smile? Nod your head? Say hi? Do you even go as far as the ‘stop and chat?’ What if you’re a simply smile kind of person, but they’re a stop and chatter? Who has the right of way? And what if they’re with someone who is a head nodder? Which person here dictates the social etiquette? Nodder, smiler, or chatter? And… what if they’re on the other side of the road?? Does one of you now have to cross the street? I’m a nodder, I see a chatter on the other side of the road… shit, he’s crossing the street. He’s motioning to cross… God damn it! He wants a stop and chat! Shit! Someone please run him over! If there’s a fellow nodder motorist that can spot one of his own in distress, please help me out! Argh!

My perfect world would be:

Them: Hey, how you doing?

Me: Nope!

And I keep on walking.

And here’s a bit of practical advice when working in an open plan office. My absolute, number one, most important, critical rule about where to sit is to never, ever sit next to someone who talks a lot. And isn’t funny. A lot. Because not only will you have to hear their crappy puns, shitty Austin Powers impressions, and random pop culture references which are way past their expiration date – you will have to hear them all-the-live-long-day! And the worst, the absolute worst is heaven forbid they ever take a trip somewhere. Because on their first day back you will have to hear them tell the same damn anecdotes to each and every person that drops by throughout the day! The exact same stories, the exact same jokes, for at least a week.

09:00

Office clown: I’ve just got back from holiday, went to see the space needle

Passer by #1: Yeah? How was it?

Office clown: Pretty good. Lot of jetlag though, I was sleepless in Seattle! HA-HA-HA!

Passer by #1: Ha-ha!

09:17

Office clown: Guess where I’ve been? Just got back from holiday in America

Passer by #2: Long flight isn’t it?

Office clown: Yeah, I didn’t get much sleep. I was sleepless in Seattle! HA-HA-HA!

10:48

Office clown: I was in America these past two weeks. Didn’t get much rest, I was sleepless in Seattle! HA-HA-HA!

10:49

I kill myself

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