5 Types Of Awkward People It's Seemingly Impossible To Avoid
In an ideal world, we'd all get along and have killer '80s movie pool parties every weekend where everyone's top comes off and no one explains who had to pay for the beer. But the world isn't ideal, is it? No, it's full of people who have the nerve to not share your point of view, and who sometimes say outright stupid things to vex you horribly on an otherwise-delightful day. Luckily, we can avoid most of these people, but a select few have managed to trap us in situations we can't escape, at least not very quickly. These people, who hold us hostage with their mundane dumbfuckery, are the worst sorts of people in the world.
The Mass Transit Child
If you've been on a plane, then you've likely endured the same thing every standup comedian since 1970 has lamented: the airplane stranger. The jackhole who sits next to you, and no matter what they do, you hate it. They eat, they sleep, they talk, they fart -- it doesn't matter. You hate it, and the audience is all "Ohmygoditstrue!ITSTRUE!!" Well yeah, that person tends to suck. But balance that person -- that gentle snorer who is otherwise leaving you alone, that accountant who's watching cat videos too loudly on his iPad -- against the 12-year-old travelling alone.
Why are we not petitioning for all of them to be put on the no-fly list?
There's a strange, Lovecraftian terror afoot any time a child is sat next to you for what you know is going to be any length of time. And you must be stalwart in your resolve to fully ignore this child, or else. Because the moment you forget yourself and the 12-year-old turns to you and says something, anything -- even the most innocuous bullshit like "I'm going to LA" on a flight to LA, where we can all safely assume everyone is going to LA -- and you acknowledge you are able to hear the child's voice or even sense the vibrations it makes when it attempts communication, you're screwed.
Acknowledging a child is, to a child, opening your arms Willy-Wonka-wide and inviting that child into your world of magic and wonder. You have just granted access to yourself and every dusty corner of your psyche for the remainder of your time together. No subject will be off-limits, no body language will be properly interpreted, and not even things like "Welp, I'm going to sleep now" or "Welp, I'm going to OD on heroin now" will prevent the child from continuing their mad conquest of your personal space and time.
"I'm coming with you. We will never be apart again."
Any potential interaction with a strange child is exponentially more awkward for each year below 16 or 17 they are. A late teen can almost interact with an adult in a normal way, depending on maturity levels. We trust them with cars, so they can usually handle brief interactions. But below that, it's just more and more wrong and harrowing. And 12 is about the perfect age for a child to be too young to have anything of interest to say to you, yet be old enough to have enough world knowledge to never stop talking.
There is nothing inherently wrong with a cab driver. Lots of interesting people drive cabs. It's just that lots of bipedal rectal molds also drive cabs and you can't tell the difference until about three minutes into the average ride. This goes for Uber, Lyft, or any standard Yellow Cab.
Although some give you a heads up.
The cab driver has you by the balls the moment you sit down. You need to go somewhere that's further than you choose to walk and probably faster than you could get there on the bus. So you're in this stranger's car for that haul, and if they want to sweat the meat sweats for the full ride, you bet they will. Peppercorn and cumin will be your fragrant guide to your destination, or perhaps processed cheese and unwashed crevasse. And that's just the ambiance. The real show begins when your cabbie chooses whether to be a Chatty Cathy or not.
Any cab has a tolerable level of banter, and none of us are so precious that we can't be bothered to talk to the help. I'm not that up my own ass. I can chat to a cabbie about a football game, or even mundane shit like the weather. But then, every so often, you get the cabbie who has robust opinions. Like ...
"Hey man, that your girlfriend, man? She got that fat ass, eh man?"
"No, that was my mom."
"Got that fat ass, eh man?"
I had that conversation with a cabbie once as we pulled away from my parent's home. Despite the fact that his observation was accurate, I still had no desire to discuss it. This kind of behavior becomes more irksome if you manage a degree of familiarity. Before I had a car, I took cabs a lot and ended up with the same six or seven cab drivers very often. Eventually, one of them decided that we were close enough that we could discuss the ways Jews had wronged us on each and every cab ride.
He'd ask if I was one every time I tipped him. I'm sure that's unrelated.
I feel I don't give off an anti-Semitic incest vibe, so this clearly rests with the cabbies and not myself. This was such an issue that it actually contributed to me eventually getting another car. I made a major life purchase to avoid the gleeful racism and unfortunate sexual proclivities of strange men.
Who the fuck cares what my barber thinks, anyway? Why is any conversation transpiring when you have scissors against my skull? I need you focused. I want you in the zone and paying close attention, because I've tried to cut my own hair in the past and came out looking like a I tried going down on a bear.
Mentally and physically.
Despite the amount of care that should be given to the task at hand, any barber or hairdresser is as free as a bird when it comes to doing their job, pushing your head around, jerking you left and right, and gibbering about the most curiously unimportant things, like your weekend plans.
I understand the vagaries of chitchat, the ins and outs of small talk, but this is a total stranger shaving your neck hair. I don't need this person to know what I'm doing on the weekend. And is it even possible they care? Why do we do this to each other? If you don't care and I don't want you to know, why are we in this conversation? What the fuck is wrong with us? The only logical explanation here is that one of us does care, and that's literally insane. It's literally insane that you should meet me three minutes ago, start rubbing my head and snipping bits off, and want to know what my plans are for the weekend. That makes me think you want to make soup out of my genitals.
You certainly have the tools for it.
So basically anything your hairdresser says to you from now on, and never forget this, is either code for "I'm going to murder you one day" or it's so unimportant and so irrelevant that their brain may not even be functioning at that point, and you need to be extra still around those scissors, because that hair cyborg could fritz at any moment and pop your jugular by accident.
Next time you're at the dentist, try this fun quiz with them. Before they get started, ask if they're aware that, generally speaking, a human being with a hand in their mouth is capable of maintaining most forms of idle chatter. Then see if they still insist on asking you about the mundane details of your day while they're buried past the wrist in your maw, scraping bacterial spackle off of your gum line.
"Oops! Stabby stabby! Anyway, tell me more about your marketing meeting."
Nearly every dentist, without fail, will not just chat, but also ask questions, no matter what the preposterous state of your mouth. This will include when they've apparently wired your molars like a C4 device with painful clamps and then wrapped them in some kind of rubber trench coat that only your tongue can fit through, or when literally sawing through your teeth with power tools. What on earth are you expected to actually say in these situations? And regardless of what's expected, don't they realize that "Ungh heng unnhee aw eeh" is the only shit you can say anyway?
Half of dental school is learning to translate. It's why it takes so long to graduate.
There's an urban legend that dentists have the highest suicide rates of any profession due in part to the fact that everyone hates going to the dentist. People hate going to the dentist because dentists are assholes. You brought this on yourselves, dentists. It's not that you cause pain and discomfort; it's that you lie about it first while we're laid back under your interrogation lamp with a vacuum in our mouths and a bib on. You say things like "just a little prick here" and then engage what feels not like a needle but like an ice pick straight into a nerve. Yes, a little prick indeed. You're the prick. And then you have the unmitigated gall to attempt to small-talk me when my entire mouth is trying to decide between being uselessly numb or in fiery pain? No. No sir.
Over in Britain, they call getting in line waiting in the queue. It adds a bit of charm to what is otherwise the shittiest thing you can do in a day. When's the last time you enjoyed waiting in line for anything? Think of all the things you stand in line for: the DMV, a bank teller, the post office if you're over 60, a busy bathroom, Splash Mountain. These are places no one wants to be and have never wanted to be. The end result is something you probably feel you need more than you want, and a wait in line is just the paper cut at the webbing of your fingers to make you reconsider even waking up today. And that's if you're in a normal line.
The abnormal line, the line that sucks the soul as well as the Big One, is the line in which the person immediately ahead of or behind you feels the need to bond. It's so much worse than when anyone else talks to you that lines should come ready-made with signs that say "Please do not speak to others, for your own safety and theirs. Management is not responsible for idle chatterers."
In a pinch, you can act as your own warning sign.
The line chatterer is someone just as bored as you, but with fewer personal boundaries or less sanity. Much less sanity. Because only the insane would dare strike up a conversation while you're waiting to shuffle-stop shuffle-stop shuffle-stop toward some goal that's as satisfying as maybe taking a piss.
Your bond with a linemate is the most tenuous of all awkward bonds. It's flimsier than the one with that kid on a plane or a cabbie, and it's less deserving of acknowledgement. You have one thing in common, and it's the fact that you're waiting together. You'd have as much in common with a cellmate at county jail or another guy waiting for a handy from the same rub-and-tug attendant -- but at least in both of those circumstances, you could sit down.
The line talker is undeserving of sympathy, or even basic human decency, for one reason above all else: Unlike a barber or a cabbie or the dentist or literally everyone else who will start chatting about 100 terrible things you couldn't give a shit about, the line guy is going to inevitably comment on how long the line is. Maybe he'll lean in too close to your personal space from behind, the vague smell of sweat and onions on him, and chuckle a little as he stammers out a "Is this thing ever going to move?" or any other brain-shatteringly unnecessary observation about the state of the line. To which you can only reply by staring at him in abject horror as your brain tries to calculate the number of ways you don't give a shit to acknowledge that yes, obviously the line is long and slow. You're both standing in basically the same goddamn place in the line; why would anyone need to point this out to the person ahead of them who's obviously been waiting just slightly longer?
Unless they want your spot because it's like, an emergency.
Don't strangle the line chatterer, as is your first impulse. Don't swear or punch or lift them like a great ape hurling a subordinate from the top of a hill to a pit of spikes and crocodiles you may have waiting somewhere below. Simply agree -- a long, slow "yes," and then return your gaze forward. This is all you can do. It's all you need to do with any of these awkward types. Because if we all do this, soon the awkward tide will turn, and those of us who let out a long, terrible "yes" before turning away will be so feared by the line talkers, the dentists, the barbers, even small children, that no one will ever talk in an awkward, unnecessary situation ever again.
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