I know that some of the staff here in the Cauldron of Conviviality think that I’m a somewhat unfriendly person. I’ve heard it said that I’m everything from a misanthrope, to an ass, to as one National Board of Everything Excellent Certified Spanish Teacher once said, an “Eeyore.”
It’s my fault, I suppose. Introverts with a low tolerance for vapid twittering probably shouldn’t choose public education as their career, but as I’ve already explained, it was the best gig in town. Some of the people I work with are quite a bit brighter than myself and I sincerely enjoy working with them… but I’m not talking about those people.
The truly sad part about this is that I’m really trying. This is me actually attempting to fake interest in their nonsensical rambling about crap that absolutely no one (probably not even the person speaking) cares about. When I am staring blankly in their general direction with a weird grimace/smile on my face, that’s me attempting to copy the mindlessly social behavior that I’ve observed other people using.
If I actually responded to these situations according my inclination I would simply walk/run away. When I was younger and less experienced with the ways of gibbering, I attempted to steer conversations into directions of actual interest, but quickly discovered that this only got me labeled as some kind of a super geek and it put people off. Now I find it is better for everyone if I simply let them wind down and then make some polite reason to leave, such as I’m late for some minor surgery.
The situation I have the hardest time with and probably what earns me most of my poor reputation, is people attempting to be funny. Some people are actually humorous of course and I enjoy their witticisms very much, but many people seem to lack the knack. I honestly have no idea how to respond to these people. I don’t want to hurt their feelings (they seem to be sincerely trying), but I’m not a good enough actor to fake being amused and I think that everyone can tell.
I could try for sincerity but, “I’m sorry, but you’re not clever enough by half for me to find that even remotely amusing” seems like it would hurt their feelings. My usual strategy is to have prepared some short sentences like, “That’s hilarious” or “I can’t believe that really happened” and hope that I’ve chosen the one closest to what they were expecting so that I can escape.
Maybe I should have a meeting with other people who also find such situations difficult and we should brainstorm some strategies… maybe develop some cue cards.