Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Jim D's Conversational Shorthand Meme

Recently Jim D. said the following:

I have noticed that I have begun to use a conversational shorthand when conversing with people with whom I will likely never see again.

And then said:

...In the mere exchange of conversational pleasantries, is it easier simply to allow the conversation to run its course without the unnecessary addition of too many details?

Read all of Jim's post here.

And then Distorted Veracity chimed in here.

I'm going to pick up on the theme and try and turn this into some sort of meme.

In his travels, Jim's walking through a world of anonymous faces, and maybe that's a bit of what he's doing in Beaumont. I don't know, and I would hate to speak for him.

Surely as much as he's limiting his conversations for expediency, there has to be some knowledge that anonymity has it's virtues, and getting too attached to a waitress at the diner or the cab driver from the hotel isn't going to go much of anywhere.

I think I've sort of been doing this with every single person I've met since I arrived in Arizona.

Sure, there are a few people I talk to regularly and in some detail, but I am aware that I go for weeks on end speaking with only my office mates, my local comic shop guy and Jamie. That's been the sum total of my social circle since my arrival in Phoenix. I can't recall the last time I stood in the yard and talked to my neighbor or the last time I had a conversation with someone that wasn't really somehow work related.

I guess what's bothering me as I head towards my fourth year in the desert is the knowledge that there's been a certain distance kept, as if I know I'm just passing through this place. Most of the staff knows Jamie's name and she's met most everybody at least once, although I suspect some of our newer folks aren't even sure I'm married. Aside from that, I'm not sure how much I've really offered up.

Maybe a few people know my political views. Some could tell you a movie or two I like. Some could venture a guess at a book I may have read. Maybe a few could even tell you around when I was in college. For the most part I'm not sure how much folks know about me. Admittedly, that's a two-way street. I'm sure in most offices you're just not that involved with one another no matter how many hours a week you spend sharing the same recycled air. And maybe I'm misreading all of this, and maybe these folks all know me better than I realize. Maybe it's me that's missing out on the details.

The endless condition of acquaintance is not something I'll miss one day when I put the Valley of the Sun in the rearview mirror. I'm tired of working friendships and conversations where I edit and edit and edit before I feel like I've watered down whatever it was I planned to say until it was safe for public consumption. And maybe I'm wrong and that wasn't what I had to do in the first place, but when you're just passing through, sometimes you want to leave as few ripples as possible.

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