So, I would never claim to be the most social creature on the planet. I don't particularly enjoy meeting people for the first time. I guess you could say that I like knowing people, not getting to know people. Once I know you, I love to socialize, to know what's going on in that head of yours, to know where you are at mentally and emotionally. I'm the person who looks forward not to meeting you for the first time, or the second and perhaps not even the third. But get me past all that mundane, superficial crap and if you are interested in things other than yourself, I'm your friend for life. Sometimes, I can feel my body exhale once I sense we are past all the superficial B.S. and I'm at the point where I know the next time I see you, it will be easy; it will be seamless to slip into a conversation that fits like a glove.
But my job (sigh)... my job requires that I travel, and (ugh) meet new people in strange cities all the time. I have a co-worker who actually enjoys going to networking events whereas, I'm the person who at 4:00 starts to fake the cough so I can get out of the evening networking event because the thought of stepping into a crowded room of people and striking up a conversation about software (gag) is enough to give me hives.
So, I'm not sure if it is the vibe I give off but many times during my travels, I find myself in awkward situations...socially. Like this time, or this one or this...oh, or the time I got busted eating some guy's sandwich. Or like the time I was working a booth at a trade show event and my male co-worker elbowed me and said, "Hey, is that guy taking a picture of you with his camera phone???"
"No way." I responded. "That would be creepy. He must be trying to take a picture of our booth." So I started to lean back to get out of his line of fire. And his camera phone moved with me. So I leaned back even further, and further, and further.
My co-worker audibly gasped and said, "Oh.My.God. He's taking a picture of YOU!!!"
I thought it was weird but my co-worker was fascinated by it and kept asking me how that situation made me feel and vowed to never let me work another trade show without him being present.
But those are just a few examples.
Here's my latest. On my last trip to Denver, I hopped in a cab to my hotel. It started out innocent enough. The cab driver asked me where I was from and how my flight was. You know, all the polite things a cab driver typically asks. He asked me why I came to town and I told him it was for a meeting with some co-workers. He asked what I did for a living. I told him I worked in Marketing for a software company.
For the rest of this post, I will relay the conversation to the best of my ability. And I will tell you that once the conversation started getting annoying and weird, I thought, I must blog about this so I am taking notes from now on. So, the rest of the conversation went as follows:
***Please note- my inside voice will be denoted by text in italics. Because honestly, that's where I do my best work.
Cabbie: You know they need new rules on flights. Like for the big people.
Me: Big people?
Cabbie: Yeah, people who are 500 pounds and think that they can just squeeze into regular seat. They should make them pay for their ticket by the pound.
Me: What the HELL is this guy talking about??? Pay by the pound???
Cabbie: So if you are over a certain weight, you should pay for two seats.
Me: Hmmm. Interesting concept.
Cabbie: So, what you do here? You work here? In office?
Me: Nah, just here for a meeting with some co-workers.
Cabbie: You work with technology company?
Me: Um hmmm.
Cabbie: Ah, I have idea for you.
Me: Uh oh, here we go.
Cabbie: So, you make a machine that read business card. So it have you on it telling about you. You put the card in the computer and it tell about you. I can't memorize faces. I mean, who can memorize all the faces?
Me: Uh yeah I suppose you see quite a few folks. But do they give you their business card???
Cabbie: Yes. I see a lot but I can't memorize their faces. This way they give me card, I put it in machine and it tell me who they are. What you think?
Me: Uh, well, I suppose that could be interesting. Although, that would mean that everyone would need to carry different business cards and everyone would also need to buy a machine to read the new business cards and I'm not sure that's practical. What are you DOING? Are you really trying to reason with this guy?
Cabbie: How many business cards you get a year? How many? Lots? How many?
Me: A lot.
Cabbie: How many is a lot?
Me: I don't know a couple hundred.
Cabbie (whistles): See now you get a machine that scan all the card and their faces and then you remember, right?
Me: Yeah, I suppose. Oh God, please make him stop talking.
...silence for a few moments...
Cabbie: So, when you going to make that machine?
Cabbie: The machine... to read faces and cards. When you going to make it?
Me: Well, I'm not going to make it. How much farther is my hotel???
Cabbie: What you mean you not going to make it, you said it was a good idea!
Me: Yeah but that's not what I do. I'm in marketing, not engineering or product development. Why am I explaining myself to this guy?? I knew I should never have started up conversation with saying, "I'm going to the Curtis hotel. Do you know where that is?" Now I'm going to have to pretend like I'm on the phone just to make him stop talking to me.
So that is exactly what I did. I actually got to the point where I pretended to make a phone call and started talking to fake people, "What? What's that you say?" I tried to make it obvious that my phone was in my ear but my plan backfired. Every time I talked to the fake person on the other end, my cab driver would turn around and yell, "What you say???" and then I had to continually lie over and over again, point at my phone to my ear and mouth, "I'm on the PHONE!"