Sunday, June 6, 2010

Good alternatives for Chit-Chatty strangers

Recently my friend Austin, who just went through a painful and elaborate leg surgery, blogged about how he was really, really sick of everyone asking him how he hurt his leg. He didn't want to get into the unpleasant details with a perfect stranger, especially not for the 100th time that week.

*Blush*, because I'll use just about any excuse to strike up a conversation with a friendly looking stranger. But then I started thinking about how tiresome it gets, as the pregnancy progresses, when people seem to stop seeing me and only see the belly (and possibly, the other 3 children I'm wrangling at the time.) Case in point (actual recent conversation):

Friendly old lady: "Oh, so you're expecting aNOTher baby? Are ALL these babies yours?
me: "Yes. It's a boy, and he's due in September. We're really excited."
Old lady: "So you'll have two of each. How nice."
me in my head: Yes, I figured that one out on my own, actually.
me: "Yes. It will be fun for his big brother not to feel so outnumbered."
not so friendly old lady: (firmly)So you are done having children now. You won't be able to afford any more.
me: "Oh, I'm not worried. My husband has a great job."
me in my head: again, maybe I've done this math already?
even less friendly old lady: "It might not be so bad now, but wait until they get older! You'll have to buy yourself a new Frigidaire just to keep up! Go grocery shopping, and it'll be all gone 5 minutes later!"
me: (exit stage left. I wander off to find Jello.)

So. I vote that we begin a campaign to stop all frivolous ice-breaker questions--they always end up being tedious and/or judgmental. No commenting on somebody's crutches or pregnant belly or that weird rash on their face or why their pants are on backwards. Stumped? Here's a list of new ideas for that friendly person behind you in the checkout line:

"Hi! I see you like gum. I do, too. We should be friends."
"Remember The Truman Show? I wonder if they're watching us now."
"I'm going to the beach and I need a great book to read. What's the most life changing book you've read lately (that you wouldn't mind getting wet)?"
"I don't think it should be required by law for adults to wear their seat belts. We have the right to be stupid if we want to. Discuss."

See? Friendly people just need to get more creative.


Jenny said...

Oh, I love that you just made me laugh!

I get asked a variety of unusual questions when I'm shopping for work and have 90 dozen eggs in my shopping cart, or 14 acorn squash, or 60 pounds of zucchini, or 400 pounds of flour and sugar. I try to come up with really stupid answers like "I'm on a cabbage and tomato only diet" or "I'm having a bake sale" or "I have 332 children." Then they don't believe me and I have to explain for real. That is not as fun.

Austin said...

I think not wearing seat belts (and people who ride motorcycles without wearing helmets) are part of natural selection. That's why it's not called survival of the dumbest.

And to add to my own post, so many people at work are mentioning to me "you're using a cane instead of crutches now!" so often that I plan to say to the next person "oh my gosh! So I am! no wonder I keep tripping from trying to lean on this nonexistant crutch! Thanks, Darryl! What would I do without you? Work hard, or Hardly work? giggle giggle snort"

(which will only be funny if Darryl is indeed the one to mention it.)

Jamie J Stansfield said...

I hear ya! I often get weird somewhat unkind comments when shopping with me 3 tiny ladies! If you can't say something nice and encouraging please DO NOT SPEAK! Don't they realize we need encouragement and friendliness and not negative stuff? We get that from ourselves enough! Goodness! Lol loved your post!

Sinny said...

Excellent!!! I get quite annoyed with people who want to chit chat but don't know what an appropriate conversation is. I was once told that sometimes people just say things just to make themselves feel better, what they don't realize is how they make you feel at the end of an awkward conversation...

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HomemadeMother said...

I tend to get a lot of similar comments now that I have a boy (5 months) and a girl (2 years). Strangers assume we're done having kids (we're not). Not sure if I'm supposed to let them know we want a big family or if I should just smile and keep walking!

HomemadeMother said...

I tend to get a lot of similar comments now that I have a boy (5 months) and a girl (2 years). Strangers assume we're done having kids (we're not). Not sure if I'm supposed to let them know we want a big family or if I should just smile and keep walking!