Some days I hate people. Some days I don’t. My inconsistency as a polite human being is illustrated best in my interactions with one of my building’s doormen. For the sake of this article, we’ll call him yappy. (Side note: I thought about nicknaming him Loquacious but the thought of saying that over and over again during the recording of this essay persuaded me to go in a different direction.)
Yappy is one of those people who ignores social cues in an effort to keep the conversation going at all costs. You could spend your whole chat with him staring at your watch, and he’ll keep talking until you just walk away. The way I respond to his conversation starters is a good indication of how I feel about people that day. Some days, I stop and launch into banter about how shitty the weather is or how fun my weekend was. Other days, I bypass him like an Olympic sprinter. I think, maybe he’ll get the hint that I’m in a hurry if I move at the pace of Usain Bolt. More often than not, I offer him a drive by greeting in which I slide one ear of my headphones over, tell him I’m doing well, and follow it up with “I’ll see you later”. All without pausing for even a second to hear what he’s said. I don’t want to give the indication that I’m interested in pursuing a full-length discussion.
"Some days, I stop and launch into banter about how shitty the weather is or how fun my weekend was. Other days, I bypass him like an Olympic sprinter."
It’s not that Yappy isn’t a nice guy. Because he totally is. It’s just that I budget my time strictly, and I don’t allot minutes for idle chatter. Plus, I’m just not the kind of guy that likes small talk with strangers. Though he’s been my doorman for over a year, he’s still considered a stranger. I only know Yappy’s name and that he sits at the front desk one morning and four evenings a week. And that he really enjoys talking to people.
Though I can easily adapt to any social setting, my preferred personality selection is that of the loner. I worked in retail for 11 years, and I recall approximately two days out of 4,015 where I didn’t want to punch someone in the face. I can recall maybe one day in which I didn’t say it out loud. Retail was an odd career choice for me considering my low level of tolerance for people in general. Especially whiny, needy, stupid ones.
"I’m the guy walking behind you on the street that keeps stepping on the heel of your shoe because you’re moving too slowly. I’m also the guy that huffs loudly as he passes you by and then complains about you to his friend on the phone-while you’re still within earshot."
When I try to think of ways to illustrate my personality, several examples come to mind. I’m the guy walking behind you on the street that keeps stepping on the heel of your shoe because you’re moving too slowly. I’m also the guy that huffs loudly as he passes you by and then complains about you to his friend on the phone-while you’re still within earshot. I’m the guy that says nasty, petty things about people he doesn’t like after they leave the room. I’m also the guy that justifies his filthy comments under the guise of comedy. I’m the guy at the movies that rolls his eyes every time a trailer for a comic book adaptation blasts through the theater. And then secretly judges everyone for their horrible movie taste while they spit out their cheddar popcorn in excitement.
I don’t actually hate people. I love one of them enough to get married to. But some days (maybe most days), limited human interaction is ideal for me. I don’t think it’s a character trait that has developed over time. I think it’s something that’s always been there, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve fully embraced it.
When you think about it, writing is the perfect job for me. I spend the bulk of my work week completely alone, and the majority of my contact with clients is via email. It’s a professional heaven for me. Working alone all day gives me the time alone that I need to stay sane and helps me better appreciate the time I get to spend with others.
Don’t worry. If you’re a friend or family member reading this, I don’t hate you. Yes, I still enjoy spending time with you. Yes, you’ve probably irritated me at one point or another (I’m sure I’ve done the same to you). This is just who I am. It’s part of my normality. I accept it. And when you don’t hear from me for four weeks, you’ll accept it too.