There’s a guy I often see on the eastbound MARTA platform in the morning who also gets off at the Georgia State station. He works in the Twin Towers (Floyd Building), which is catty-corner to the capitol. We sometimes chat as we wait for the train to take us to our respective jobs.
Classic introvert and all, my natural proclivity is to be laconic versus loquacious. Actually, small talk and I are epic fail. I’m not good at it, don’t enjoy it, and tend to avoid it (although I do shamelessly eavesdrop on public conversations ’cause it’s such a fruitful source of writing material). Fortunately, fosteronfilm is gifted at doing off-the-cuff social banter—a trait he inherited from his mom; when we visit her, there are times when I can’t get a single word in between the two of them—and when possible, I tend to rely on him to conduct the majority of our small talk in situations that require it.
So when strangers try to strike up a conversation with me on or waiting for the train—which happens pretty regularly—I typically don’t put much effort into reciprocating and eventually, after enough lapses into awkward silence, they give up. Which means it’s rather unusual for me to have a small-talk acquaintance like this guy.
I still do a poor job of holding up my end of the conversation. But he doesn’t seem to mind the periodic intervals of silence. We don’t have much in common, but that doesn’t seem to deter him, and he seems content to keep our association on this casual small-talk-on-the-platform basis. (I’ve run into a couple other persistent guys who have made forays into trying to pick me up, at which point my limited conversation becomes even more limited as I steer it exclusively to mentions of Matthew and being married. An exceptionally effective conversation stopper/deterrent.)
Today, my small talk buddy (we exchanged names once, but I can’t remember his—I suck at names, more proof of how small talk and I are epic fail) and I commiserated about how, being state employees, we haven’t gotten a cost-of-living pay increase in three years but agreed that we are nevertheless glad to have employment, and then, as we often do, we switched to the topic of weather.
He mentioned, as he has before, that he likes to fish and do outdoorsy stuff so he’s hoping for sunny days this weekend. I replied, as I have before, that I prefer cloudy days, and went on to explain that I avoid the sun, being somewhat photosensitive and prone to getting sick when exposed to it. And he admitted that he shouldn’t be out in the sun either because he has lupus.
“Really?” I sez. “Me too! That’s why the sun makes me sick.”
And we started talking about our respective over-zealous immune systems. I was actually sort of sad when it came time for us to split off to our separate destinations.
I guess sometimes I don’t mind small talk all that much.
Small talk can be fun. But some are naturals at it while for others it’s an acquired skill. For me it’s an acquired skill, and most days I still suck at it (which is why I often resort to cracking lame jokes).
And when it comes to names…wellllll…..I’m in the exact same boat. You won’t believe how many times conversations started with:
Him: “Hey, Scott, how’ve you been!”
Me: “Hey!….uh, dude! What’s up?”
But yeah, every now and then small talk can lead to interesting conversations.