I’m not a fan. I’m not particularly good at it.
This would probably be fine if I weren’t a barista, but baristin’ means a lot of short, pointless conversations with people you hardly know. And you see some of these people every day, so you see each other just enough that talking about the weather gets boring.
The biggest issue I have with it is that I don’t like lying to people, strangers or not. Even little lies like ‘fine’ or ‘nothing much’ weird me out, so big lies like ‘I totally watched that football game’ or ‘I still care about the weather’ are almost intolerable.
I’ll usually let the conversation peter out after the ‘fine, thank you,’ but that can lead to some awkward silences.
Like many things, it’d be easier if I weren’t an introvert. Culture favors the extroverts, and pointless chin-wagging is regarded as not only polite but mandatory. For introverts, that shit is work. We can’t just throw it out like the others can, and it drains us more than exercise.
I like my regular customers that are equally introverted, since we can just nod and smile at each other in silence. These silences tend to be comfortable, but even these are frowned on by customer service standards. Silence weirds people out.
Usually by the end of my shift I start to wonder if I can just pretend to be mute. The idea of ‘chatting’ even a little more makes me feel sick. Like a runner hitting the wall, I’ve run out of tolerance for empty talk. I’d rather hear about your horrible day than talk temperature through tears.
It’s not that I don’t like people. I love people. I care deeply about even a complete stranger’s problems. I just don’t care about the Piggers game last night, and I’m not good at feigning fascination.
Some of my co-workers are able to skip past all that small talk into an easy familiarity, and I often wonder how it is they do it. I don’t know how to go from ‘nice day isn’t it’ to ‘how are the kids,’ especially when the conversations are in five-minute increments.
I’m sure I’ve done it before, since I have friends, but I just can’t figure out how it works.
Does this make any sense to you, or does small talk come easily? I’d like what pointers you have, if you have them.
Thanks, and have a good one.