In this week's Strangerville episode I may have overreacted about a thing that has been driving me crazy for a while. That thing is poorly-executed elevator small talk between coworkers.
I work in a tall building that houses several companies. My firm used to be in a different building, and we shared the place with a hip ad agency so every time I got into the elevator with anyone who worked there I felt like I was in an HBO series about millenials trying to make it in New York and have it all.
The ad agency employees would recount their wild weekends for one another every Monday morning, explaining how they're lucky to be alive after getting chased down by an entire gang of warlords while hunting anaconda on the moon. And I would pretend not to listen while actually very listening, because I loved hearing these stories.
This was me every single day when I got off of the elevator after listening to their conversations about their wild weekends:
It was amazing. I was living vicariously through these people. I felt like I was in my prime. There was nothing missing in my life.
And then we moved.
We moved to a new building that did not have a hip ad agency. It just had boring work companies where everyone just jobs all day and then leaves their jobs and then goes home in their Nissans to their cats and mail and bills and they are definitely not getting arrested with their friends on the weekends for chaining themselves to zoo animals in Siberia.
And the reason this affects me is my elevator riding experience has changed entirely.
Because: the people of my new building are terrible at small talk.
Every freaking day I get into the elevator and whatever two people who are already in there will be all like "oh hi Bill. What's new" and then Bill sighs and he's all like "meetings, amiright?!" and she's all "haha, how do we even keep up with it all" and then he's all "well at least they keep me out of trouble" and she's all "you're so bad" and he's all "another day another dollar" and she's all "I TAKE PERCOCET TO KEEP MYSELF FROM SHOVING MY HEAD IN THE SHREDDER IN THE COPY ROOM" and he's all "I SLAM MY FINGERS IN DOORS SO I CAN FEEL THINGS" and she's all "HAHA" and he's all "HAHA" and then I get out of the elevator and I'm all
And you guys! I know this probably doesn't seem like something that should matter to me at all but OMG. I. Cannot. Take. Another. One. Of. These. Freaking. Conversations.
My anger over them has been building for a while and I knew that it was odd that this small talk, which most people (even those engaged in it) completely tune out, was making me so angry.
I talked in this week's Strangerville episode about the realization I came to as I finally figured out why this is bothering me so much, so I won't repeat that all here.
But you guys. Please. For the love of all that is holy. Help fight bad small talk. When someone in an elevator or at the bank or the Urologist's office or WHATEVER asks you how you are doing or what's new or any question at all, be better than 99% of the world population, pause for one second, and come up with at least one specific thing to say. Something unique enough that you couldn't be replaced with literally anyone else in the world for purposes of that conversation.
I've been making a conscious effort to do this over the past few days and I can't tell you how much better it is making me feel and how much more pleasant my interactions with other humans have become.
I want to make a pharmaceutical commercial about this:
Do you or someone you know suffer from Homogeneous Small Talk Syndrome(HSTS)? HSTS affects 300 million Americans every day.
Man: For years I found myself making generic statements to acquaintances about the weather. Often I did it without even realizing that I didn't even know what the weather was that day.
[black and white reenactment where a man and a woman are sitting at a table waiting for another colleague to arrive for a work meeting. Woman says "can you believe all this weather?" Man responds, "you know what they say. If you don't like it, wait 5 minutes." Woman politely laughs without using any of the muscles in her face.]
Fortunately, there's a way to feel alive again. Ask your doctor about Effort.
Man: I found out that Effort was right for me. Now I don't hate myself every time the barista hands me my coffee.
[reenactment in color: same man from before takes change from the barista while saying, "as a matter of fact, my entire family was eaten by bears."]
Effort has been clinically proven to stop countless Americans who struggle with HSTS. Side effects include having to listen to Becky say something specific back about her life.
Talk to your doctor today.
And please enjoy Meg's live story in this week's Strangerville.
This time in Strangerville, Meg takes the Strangerville Live stage to help everyone feel a little better about their bad neighbors. Also, GMac is the world’s best friend.Story:Repulsive, by Meg WalterProduction by Eli McCann and Meg Walter
~It Just Gets Stranger