Don’t be an Ass at the Grocery Store

Since I seem to be using this blog primarily as a way to vent my frustration with little everyday annoyances, here’s one more.

Image by bluedaisy, from www.sxc.hu

Image by bluedaisy, from http://www.sxc.hu

Unless you’re super-rich and have your own personal grocery shopper (if you are, don’t read my blog – I hate you), we all have to go to the supermarket/natural food store/grocery/whatever. Sometimes it is crowded, sometimes you’re in a hurry… there are many variables that might put you in a less-than-pleasant mood. But that’s no reason to be an ass.

“What?!” you may say, “I’m a wonderful human being and the sun not only shines out of my pooper, it actually revolves around me! How could anyone take issue with my grocery store behavior?” Read the rest of this entry »

I’m OK. You’re OK. But not as OK as me.

Due to the number of people I interact with on a day-to-day basis, the following topic has been on my mind very frequently: I don’t like most people.

Now, before you get all riled up about what a sad and lonely person I must be, let me set the record straight: I have many good friends, people I care about and enjoy spending time with, and who I think feel the same way about me. My social calendar is just fine, and my life is not devoid of love or meaning.

That being said, I don’t really like most people I come into contact with each day. I don’t dislike them, but I don’t particularly like them, either. I can’t imagine hanging out with them, or wanting to be their friend on Facebook, or really even sustaining a mildly interesting conversation with them. I honestly would rather avoid them altogether. Maybe I have prudent and discriminating taste in friends. Or maybe I’m an ass.

A few days ago, though, I had an epiphany. There must be people who feel the same way about me! “WHAT!?!,” I thought to myself, “How could anyone not like me?”

It is true, though. I probably interact with several people each day who don’t really care for me. Not because I’m a bad person (I’m not), or because I stink (I have excellent hygiene, thank you), or because I’m obnoxiously loud (I’m actually rather soft-spoken). It’s just because we have wildly dissimilar interests, beliefs, senses of humor, world outlooks, choice of books, clothing styles, or whatever. It could be ANYTHING! Or nothing! When I meet someone I don’t like, I have to remind myself that they very well may not like me either, and there’s very little I can do about it. Sure, I can be polite and attentive, but good manners don’t instantly forge a bond of friendship. All I can do is try my best to get through the encounter with grace and professionalism, and not get upset that we’re not BFFs or that his/her voice grates on my last nerve. It’ll be over soon and I can go home to the one who truly understands me and never annoys me — my dog.

Emotional Outbursts: There’s a Time and a Place….

Part of being a grown-up is learning to deal with adult emotions. As we age, our emotions become more complex, as do the situations surrounding and leading to those emotions. To be a healthy person, we have to learn to deal with these emotions as they come, to move through them, rather than bottling them up and freaking out later. There are numerous ways to learn to handle feelings in a mature fashion, many of which will be talked about on this blog. This post won’t really deal with any of them, though.

This post, rather, is more of a opinion piece. My opinion, based on events that I have witnessed in real life.

I think that another part of being a grown-up is exercising good judgment, having appropriate manners, and knowing the time and place for certain actions. Sometimes you need to repress an emotion or two, just until you’re somewhere where you can deal with it. For example, your chiropractor’s office is not the appropriate place to storm in, throw your stuff across the room, and burst out crying – and I don’t mean a solitary tear leaking out, I mean bawling like a toddler. Nor is it really appropriate to unburden yourself on the receptionist (even if he/she seems so understanding), describing your problems in detail, such as your marital difficulties or that pesky bowel issue.

No, dear reader, these are some feelings that should be reserved for the inside of your home or the sympathetic shoulder of your BFF. Except the bowel issue. That should be discussed with your doctor. (Doctor, not doctor’s office manager. There is a difference.)

Maybe I’m being mean… nah, I don’t think so. I think that if you’re old enough to drive a car, vote, and buy a beer, then you’re old enough to exercise a little discretion when it comes to opening the emotional floodgates. Yes, emotions are good, and no, you shouldn’t usually repress them. But there’s a difference between being emotionally healthy and making everyone around you feel uncomfortable.

So when you’re about to open up to someone, ask yourself a few questions:

1. Is this person being paid to listen to my problems (ie. therapist, psycholgist, hairdresser)?

2. [If the first answer is “no’] Did this person ask me to tell them about my trials and tribulations, emotional upheaval, relationship difficulties, intestinal disturbances, overbearing mother, etc?

3. [If “no” to 1 and 2] Is this person my spouse/partner, mother, dear sibling, or openly acknowledged best friend?

If the answer to any one of these questions is “yes,” then by all means, kick of your shoes and let it rip! But if you answered no to all three, then I would advise keeping your angst to yourself, at least until you’re with someone who does fall into one of the above categories.

Life of the Party

As a grown-up, you’ll probably be in uncomfortable situations from time to time. One of these will almost surely be a party where you don’t know anyone. It may be a work function where you’re expected to (gag) network. You could have been invited by a friend trying to get you to meet new people (ie. get laid). Whatever the circumstances, you’ll need a plan to which you can desperately cling as you navigate the social waters.

Below you’ll find what I like to call a “Party Pack,” a list of three things to prepare before a social function in unfamiliar territory. This is just what works for me. Leave your own suggestions too!

Party Pack:

1. Personal Blurb. I know it can be hard, but find something interesting to say about yourself. Have it ready ahead of time. Do you mountain bike, speak German, collect coins, or brew your own beer? Have you traveled somewhere interesting? Have you ever met a celebrity? Are you reading something really interesting? Try to have a little something extra to tell people about yourself in addition to your name and what you do for a living.

2. Interview Question. Prepare a question – or several questions – you can ask when you meet a new person, again, something other than name and place of employment. This way you won’t stare awkwardly across the room and yammer on about the weather. A good way to get people to talk about their interests is to ask about their favorite places. “So where are some good restaurants/clubs/music venues/etc around here?” They’ll be able to name off a few places they like, why they like them, what you should try, and all this talking can actually lead to real conversation!

3. Laughs. To help break the tension, you can whip out a joke. If you can make someone laugh, the rest of the conversation will go much more smoothly. Unless you know your audience really well, though, keep away from anything too off-color or possibly offensive. You can tell a funny or amazing story that happened to you, or you heard at work or on the radio. Tell a riddle that stumps everyone. You could even share a knock-knock joke, but make sure it’s actually funny and not just lame. Try to stick with one that has worked for you in the past. If you don’t have a “signature” joke, there are plenty to be had online. Search for jokes, riddles, daily humor, or similar.

Have tips for talking to new people, or a joke that you really like? Share it in the comments!