I may have finally hit a problematic wall in my professional life. After nearly thirty years, I am running out of patience with talkers.
Anyone who does a personal service job knows them. They come in talking, they talk the entire time you are rendering the service, and they go out talking — if they go out without having to be helped along by a smart foot in the small of the back. And it’s not just talking, not just conversation as we know it; it’s a high pressure, pushed-out-through-the face stream of information containingeverypossibledetailaboutwhattheyhadatthechainrestaurantlastnight, includingparticularsaboutthegiftcardtheyusedandtheirbowelnoisesafterward. Immediately followed by meandering descriptions of the procedures at their grunt-level retail job or their church committee, barely punctuated by inhalations, such is the urgency of their explaining to you every nuance of their fascinating lives.
Now some people do have fascinating lives. Some travel to Antarctica and pet penguins, and I am happy to hear the whole narrative. Some live quietly at home but can make a story about a crosstown bus ride into a little gem of hilarity and insight into human nature. And most important, they take breaths.
Do you know that talking raises your blood pressure? Do you know how hard it is to relax a person that is urgently telling you important things about how they are sure their sore arm came from moving the mattress, and then gives you every detail of when and why they decided to move the mattress and what they told their spouse about it afterward?
For a solid hour.
I had a Talker when I started out. She would show up early, too. I started not answering the door. “Oh, gee, I was in the laundry room — that washer is loud.” I have a couple of Talkers right now. One has gone from lamenting the work ethics of her fellow employees to, in retirement, lamenting the soap opera problems of her choir director or describing the minute operations of the parish committee, who are short of people to do the books, and stuff like that, but she doesn’t want to put in more time because she has a new aerobics teacher and doesn’t want to miss any classes, they are doing choreographed cardio, and stuff like that. And stuff like that. About fifty per cent of the monologue is “and stuff like that.”
I have another Talker who has described every office in-fight in her membership organization to me. I know more about the books of this nonprofit than I know about my own bank account — or I would, if I bothered to listen. At a certain point, you start to feel bludgeoned, your ears turn off, and you just have to say something every five minutes or so that makes it seem as if you’ve been paying attention. They don’t care.
All nice people. All people I like and respect in various ways. If they would only. Just. Shut. Up. I start to cringe when I hear them knock. Do they listen to themselves? Do they even notice that they never stop talking?
Yesterday I came back from the grocery and ran into David, my gardener, He Who Talks To Cheese, and I thought I was getting away scot free but no, he had to tell me he was feeling good this week, better than last week, last week he felt weak, but see he’s been taking oil of oregano, it’s in little capsules, and it also has oil of fennel in it, he gets it from California… Just as it seemed he was about to follow me in the door to explain more to me about it I turned, pointed out the clump of oregano in my herb bed, and said “If oregano helps you there’s loads there! Have some!” And shut the door in his face.
I tell you I cannot take much more of this.