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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The War On Small Talk

I've slowly been waging a secret war. But this is a war of only words. Well, and possibly a bat if I have to hear these words for too long.

I'm talking about the war on small talk.

Who's with me on this? I addressed this a bit before, but I think our world—our small talk inundated world—has reached a fever pitch. We all experience small talk in our everyday lives. But nowhere is this plague more apparent then, say, a local business. A local business called Andrea's.

As some of you may remember, I work at Andrea's. I handle shipping and receiving. Which means I deal with delivery guys all day long. UPS, Fed-Ex, and even their red headed step child DHL.

Seriously. The UPS guy brings about 15 boxes usually. The Fed-Ex guy about 6. And when the DHL guy brings his 2, I have to squeeze his cheeks and say, "God, aren't you just ADORABLE!" He doesn't really appreciate it, but, gosh, with his teeny wittle truck, and his red and yellow theme... just precious.

Anyway, back to small talk. When I talk with these delivery guys, the small talk is a significant portion of our interaction. Let me paint the scene. The sound of a large truck can be heard outside. Truck door sliding up with its metallic clatter. Three knocks on the big orange back door, which mean, "You're packages are here. I'm not carrying them to you."

"Hey there," says UPS guy.

"Hey, dude," says I.

"How's it going?"

"Oh, not too bad, you?"

"Pretty good. This weather, though."

"Yeah, pretty crazy."

"Hope you got room in there. Got quite a few boxes for you today."

"Heh-heh, oh, geez."

Conversation seems harmless enough. Except that it occurs roughly the same way every day. Every. Single. Day. Do. You. Like. These. Punchy. Drawn. Out. Sentences. I. Find. Them. Slightly. Hypnotic. It's. Like. Those. Movie. Trailers. Where. They. Take. Three. Words. Spaced. Out. And. Throw. Them. In. Your. Face.

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It's funny, but I know for a fact that as each set of three words popped up, you were imagining the film that would be made, or had been made, in relation to them. But, that's okay. I mean, "BUT. THAT'S. OKAY."

My relationship with the UPS driver is always a friendly one, even if our only topics of conversation are...

  • the weather
  • how crazy said weather currently is
  • how the craziness is only expected to increase in the future
  • how this crazy weather is indeed incomparable to recent years

That will go on for a good—oh I don't know—twenty minutes. It's thrilling, let me tell you. But even though it's a rather empty conversation, it's friendly, and the delivery guys are usually pretty cool.

Well, except the DHL guy. He's an asshole. I don't like him. The other day, he was complaining that his (wittle) truck was so full, and that everyone's been getting five sometimes even 6 boxes! Insane. SIX. WHOLE. BOXES.

I looked him dead in the eyes. I said, "Wow, six?! Is that anything like, say, 40?? It isn't??" Then I dropped the overly sarcastic tone and told him to get the hell out of my fucking warehouse. Well, no, I didn't use the F word. Actually, I didn't say anything. I just pushed him out the door. But forcibly. No, no, that's not true, either.

Okay, okay, it was more like a handshake and I said, "Have a good one!" But the way I shook his hand? He knew I wanted him dead. I stabbed him again and again. With my eyes.

Worse is when you interact with customers. I respect the ladies who work on the floor. I don't know how they have the stamina and patience and sheer will to continue on after being asked for the one millionth time how their family is doing, or if they had their hair done, or what they think about this weather.

When I meet people who I know, and they ask me how my family is doing, even though I saw them quite recently, I wish I had the ability to detach my head from the rest of my body. When people you know come and ask you about your family, it will usually be followed by a story or anecdote, which has been told/heard no less than one thousand times. Think about it. You're just sitting there, listening half interested. And then your head falls off. Think about the possibilities.

You'd probably only be able to do it once. Because after it happens once, and you somehow miraculously recover from a detached head, everyone will think you're a zombie or something, when they see you walking around later on. Which is fine. Except nobody likes talking to zombies. Something to do with them being so chatty; you can never get a word in. Plus they'll eat your brain. Then they're eating your brain and talking with their mouth full. It's pretty rude.


From this point forward, you're a soldier. A verbal killing machine. You're going to fight this war. But I'm going to guide you. Below are some phrases that we all hear everyday. Below those are the corresponding answers, which you will give in a calm voice with your face completely dead-panned. Practice in the mirror if you have to. I'm counting on you. Don't let me down.

Crazy weather, huh?
That's not what Colonel Sanders told me.

I heard the weather is supposed to be worse tomorrow.
I understand you want to sell me a large portion of the Congo.

What's your sister been up to?
No deal, Goldfinger!

Ooh, little chilly outside, huh?
I have glasswork in the back! Hurry, bring your nipples, at once!

How's work?
My skull chair is coming together nicely. Running low on baby skulls though.

We should get together sometime, catch up!
Yes, I would enjoy you in some ketchup.

Time sure does go by fast!
Actually, time is always at a constant. Your interpretation, therefore, is skewed, based only on outside factors such as the repetition of a daily regimen, which would in turn make the time span of one day seem quicker than normal. The familiarity of your surroundings and day-to-day life only increase your awareness of the passing time. Looking back on your life will reveal long stretches of uninterrupted, mundane and well-rehearsed activity. The absence of change or diversion from the norm only blurs the memory that you refer to as "your life".

Make me proud, soldiers.


At 11:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 11:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Real wins battle, but hardly the war
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At 6:56 AM, Blogger Carney Man said...

The hair people like your blog, but the private road construction people, not so much. Personally, I think they don't know what they are talking about. Real wins battle...what the hell does that mean anyway?! Anways, nice one. So, how is your family doing?

At 8:35 AM, Blogger Adammmmmm said...

You're insane. But it's a good kind of insane. Next time a dumbass UPS guy starts asking you about the weather, just look very concerend and tell him that they won't let you outside after "the incident".

You'll be fine.

At 12:48 PM, Blogger Melissa Hayden said...

"Small talk is small in every way, except when you try to get around it."
--Chip Kidd

At 1:04 PM, Blogger A said...

War it is! I love the time response...Cannot wait to try it on someone tmw morning.

At 5:38 PM, Blogger American Girl said...

i will join your war efforts. on small talk and on "hair bows." seriously, if you're experiencing hair loss, putting a bow on whatever is left is not going to draw attention elsewhere.

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Caro said...

if we avoid small talk, then we'd be undermining society.

think about it...our parents teach us to be nice, always ask polite questions when you see someone, and so forth. by going against our teachings ingrained into our nature from the time we are infants, we are fostering an attitude of disobedience and anarchy!


At 9:14 AM, Blogger ScroobiousScrivener said...

I work on a weekly magazine. Every Tuesday, I have to phone someone up and ask him what page the classified ads go on. Every Tuesday, he says, "I can't tell you, it's classified!"

Every. Tuesday.

So I'm on board. Strapping on conversational ammo right now.

At 11:26 AM, Blogger Cate said...


Now that's the tagline for a movie I'd like to see. So many possibilities!

At 5:41 PM, Blogger jazz said...

you should give the people at angela's the link to your blog.

right after you quit because you've been hired with a phat salary to come back to work in nyc.

yes, this should be done.

At 7:57 PM, Blogger lovelygreensweater said...

I'm ready for battle SIR! Nothing like the smell of napalm in the morning!

Plus working at Starbucks gives me ample opportunity to be on the front line. :)

At 10:13 PM, Blogger Syar said...




At 12:25 PM, Blogger Matt said...

First, is it "in or everyday lives" or "in our everyday lives?" Just throwing that out there. Second, I'm with you Andy! I'm starting the war on my own front here in the Commonwealth of Virginia. What I hate is small talking with others that don't know how to small talk. For example: I ask, "How's it going?" and they reply, "How's it going?" What can I do in those situations? Is that when the bat comes in? Redneck.Bat.Beatings

At 9:38 PM, Blogger scribe called steff said...

That was fun. I miss the mundanity of office life. Things are different now.

I haven't been here in awhile, but my ADHD prevents me form reading your backlog. Something to do on some stoner night in the future, maybe. :)

I don't do smalltalk, though. I get people talking. 8 out of 10 times, Steff succeeds at having actual conversations. What is it? My style? My humour? My infectious nature? The way I bat my eyes? Why, I just don't know.

My bubbly, effervescent self comes out.

Tums might take care of that, though.

The Cunting Linguist.

(The clock is ticking on the Last Ditch, by the way. Three weeks and I pull the plug. Something new will come along... in a while. For now, obscurity and orgasms, just the way I like it.)

At 8:04 AM, Blogger Katie said...

Being jobless prevents me from experiencing smalltalk. And being on a different continent, where I don't speak the language, that also helps. What should I do if it's a family member who brings up the small talk? Like my stepmother the other day... "So... how is your family Katie?" Do I launch an attack at her? Or forgive her the serious yet lovable screw up?

Help me out here! I also want to fight this war!


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