Stop Talking

I can’t remember if I wrote about this before. Maybe? I’m way too lazy to look.

I mean, fatigued.

My immune system went into overdrive after my first Pfizer vaccine on Friday. I felt like ass all day Saturday. Today is Sunday and I’m much better. Just a little achy and tired.

While that is all true, I probably wouldn’t have looked anyway.

Anyway, now that I got the first shot down, that means I’m going to have to go back to work in an office. With other people. I’m weeks away. Do I think it’s going to be horrible? No. I mean probably. It’s been so long. I have a routine. I like my routine. I’m productive and people from work don’t talk to me unless they have to. I’m an introvert. I trained for this lifestyle my entire life. 

Do I think it’s going to suck and take a while to get used to? I’d say on a scale from “Rush hour traffic to “Communal bathroom”,  I’m looking squarely at a “getting asked over and over if I enjoy being back in the office.” So yeah, definitely going to suck for a while.

I believe I have mentioned this before, but I wish it were socially acceptable to tell people to stop talking and then they’d stop talking and go away.

Two jobs ago, I worked with a woman who would find her way to my office once a week or so, she would sit down lean in and and say “I couldn’t wait to talk to you. You are going to love this.”

I knew I wouldn’t love it. I was completely positive I wouldn’t love it.

I didn’t love it the dozens and dozens of other times she stopped by to tell me office gossip. Half the time I didn’t even know who the people were she was talking about. We worked in different buildings. It always takes a while for me to meet all the people I work with, because unless I have to work on a project for them or with them, then I respect their privacy. I don’t think I’ve ever had a job where I could correctly identify every person by name. I’ve been at this job for 6 years. I’m going to say I could correctly identify about half the people.

Situations like that is where “stop talking” would come in handy.

Someone would start telling you something that you have no interest in. In fact, if you are forced to have their words jammed in your ear holes, the slightly good mood you were in is going to slip away. Instead of that happening, you just say “Oh, stop talking.”

I mean, you have be nice.

For instance, if you say “stop talking,” and the other person responds with “Oh, okay! Have a great day”, then it would be polite to say “you too.”

You should not respond with “Pretty sure I just said stop talking,” You can, however, think it all you want.

I’m just saying, if that were socially acceptable, that would make returning to the office a little easier.

Speaking of people. Damn.

The facility where I got my first shot is a university’s basketball arena. It’s not stadium size or anything, but it’s still pretty fucking big. The national guard was there directing traffic and answering questions. I had to walk into a building with hundreds of people after being around hardly any people for nearly a year.

I got signed in and was directed to a line for the shot.

Some dude got in line behind me and stood maybe 18 inches behind me. So I scooted up a little, trying to send a non-verbal cue, but he just kept right up with me. I had to turn around and tell him he was too close. We should be 6 feet apart.

He was gracious enough. At least he didn’t get mad. I was already freaking out being around people, no way could I handle a confrontation as well.

They were organized and kept everything moving. Other than the dude breathing down my neck, I felt safe.

I got my shot and was directed to another large room with rows and rows of folding chairs set 6 feet apart. We had to sit for 15 minutes to make sure we weren’t going to have a bad reaction to our shot.

I walked to the far end of the row I was directed to and took my sear. The “too close” guy was in the row behind me trying to chat up the girl next to him.

Too close guy: Crazy, isn’t it? It’s good though, we’ll be back to normal soon.

Unsuspecting woman: Um, yeah.

TCG: I hated to take time out of my busy day, but this is important.

UW: Yes.

For all that is fucking holy dude, stop talking, she doesn’t want to talk to you. 

TCG: I work in finance, have for years. What do you do?

Turns out she also worked in finance. Not that it mattered, no matter her answer, he would use it as a springboard to talk about himself.

TCG: How long have you been at your job?

UW: 20 years.

TCG: You don’t look old enough to have worked anywhere for 20 years.

UW: Well, thanks.

TCG: Yeah, I like to think about retirement. But my wife makes six figures as well and a second home would be really great.

Oh, for fuck’s sake. See? First time I’ve been around other humans in a year and this is the first thing I am forced to listen to? This is why I don’t want to be around people. 

I’m just giving you the highlights.

Mostly, it was TCG saying “Blah blah blah, derpity derp, me me me me me me me” or “I would be lost without my personal assistant. He really gets me through my days.”

My 15 minutes were up and some National Guard soldier asked if I was feeling okay. I grabbed my purse and said “Yes.”

Apparently, I was a little too enthusiastic for the soldier. He held his hand up and said “Are you sure?”

Oh my god, dude, is this going to be a thing? Are you going to arrest me? Am I going to have to face a firing squad? I want to leave. I want to leave now. I have had my fill of people for the day. Get the fuck out of my way. Or at least tell that dude to stop talking. See? THIS is why we need to be able to say “Stop talking.”

Okay, what I said was “Yes.”

He stepped aside and I went back to the parking lot where Randy was waiting.

Does my story end there? No, because I am me, of course not. But really, I don’t feel like I’m to blame for my wandering up and down through the parking lot looking for our car.

I was careful to note the letter and number on the light pole by our car when I left for my shot. I have been lost in many parking lots and parking garages in my life. There came a time, when I had enough, I went from “never being quite sure where I parked” to “obsessive about remembering where I parked”. Sometimes, I take pictures of landmarks with my phone.

C2. Our car was by C2. Simple enough. No photographic clues were necessary.

It was cold and windy and I was ready to take off my masks. I get to C2 and there’s no car there.

I called Randy trying to keep the righteous indignation to a minimum. “Ummmm, did you move the car?”

He did not move the car. He noticed that two light poles, fairly far apart, were both labeled C2.

If you are going to use a letter and number scheme on light poles in your parking lot, then they should fucking be unique. This isn’t rocket science. 

All in all, a small price to pay to be on my way to fully vaccinated.

I am grateful.

I am relieved.

I am trying not to freak out about rejoining my fellow cube dwellers.

I hope you all are safe and are able to get your vaccination as well.




An Unbiased View of Manspreading

So, Randy sent me an article that likens “Manspreading” to “Mask Slipping”.

It reminded me about an article I wrote years ago about “manspreading”, so I thought I would share it again.

I would guess manspreaders are often the maskholes that wear their masks under their noses or use to just cover their chins, but not their nose and mouth.

If your mask isn’t covering your nose and your mouth, it’s not doing anyone any good.

Don’t be a maskhole. Or a manspreader.

Anyway, here is the old article:

Randy told me about an article he just read about two men who were arrested in New York for ‘manspreading’. I hadn’t heard the term ‘manspreading’ before. When Randy starting talking about manspread, my head went to a completely different place than some douche twizzle taking up two public transportation seats. The story context cleared my misunderstanding of the word up quickly, which is good, because I was going to disturbing places.

I’m not saying that it isn’t rude to take up more than one subway seat just so you can sprawl out, but arrested? Isn’t that taking it a bit far?

I searched out the articles and found one titled ‘The war on men: manspreading’.

I admit that I struggled a bit when I read the ‘war on men’ part. I didn’t know if I wanted to rant or snork at that. (I don’t care what spell check says, ‘snork’ is a word).

In the end, I just clicked off the article. I’m up way too early on a weekend morning and I don’t think I could get enough coffee fueled energy to make it worth my while to work up a rant.

All that being what it is, I have a good manspread story.

Nearly 33 years ago, when pregnant with my first son, I parked my car in Covington, KY and rode the bus across the river to my job in Cincinnati.

I picked the bus up right at the base of the Roebling Suspension bridge. The Suspension bridge is the one in Rain Man where Dustin Hoffman hums to the bridge sound as you drive across it.

I was 8 months pregnant and it was late June.

I even remember that I wore a pink maternity dress with a white Peter Pan collar. The dress had white squiggly designs that looked like chalk outlines at a murder scene.

I pulled my big bad self up the steps and, as expected, all the seats were taken. My stop was the last stop before Dixie terminal (where the bank scene in Rain Man was filmed).

Except all the seats weren’t really taken. The front of the bus, where there are 3 seat benches that face each other, one man took up all the seats on one side.

He had his big stupid legs spread apart, which took up two seats, and had his briefcase opened on the third seat.

I asked him if I could sit down. He looked me up and down and kind of sneered and just shook his head. I was not even worthy of his words.

Another passenger offered their seat, but I had already grabbed a bar. I thanked them and said I was fine.

It could have ended there, but no, the douchebag taking up three seats started muttering under his breath. But not really under his breath, because I heard every word. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but this is pretty fucking close:

I have important work to do. It’s a two minute ride, I’m sure you’ll be fine. Just because you got knocked up doesn’t mean we all have to bow to you. 

I was 24 years old at the time and painfully introverted. I was afraid to say anything in my defense, so I just held on and pretended to not hear him.

Then the most beautiful thing happened.

I think Karma is bullshit, but for a shining moment, Karma was alive and well and firing on all cylinders.

The bus stopped in Dixie terminal and Mr. Manspread closed his briefcase. Only the briefcase didn’t latch all the way.

When he stood up, his briefcase fell open. When he tried to stop the inevitable avalanche of papers, he dropped his briefcase on the bus floor.

The little old lady who offered me her seat took the first good shot. She stood up and kicked the briefcase all the way up to the bus fare doohinkey. She didn’t even pretend like it was an accident.

I stepped on as many papers as I could as I exited. The people behind me were kicking as many papers as they could. The man was yelling and laying across the bench, trying to pick up his papers. A few people yelled “OH, EXCUSE ME” as they tore his shit up, but mostly, they were just laughing. Even the driver was laughing a little.

I don’t think that man deserved to go to jail. I don’t think he deserved to be fined. If we start getting arrested because we’re being a dick, then we’re all doing time.

I think my Mr. Manspread got an appropriate punishment.

I can still see the beads of sweat on his forehead and the panicked look on his face.

It’s one of my favorite pregnancy memories.


Why Are We Fighting?

I’ve seen a meme quite a few times over the past year. It’s of 45 hanging from the side of a building by his fingertips. The meme asks the question: What would you do?

Some larger Twitter accounts posted the meme and the answers were resoundingly in the “I would step on his fingers” category. Followed closely by the “I would walk away and do nothing” category.

Seriously? What would I do? Would I help another human in peril? Fuck yes, I would.

We must keep our humanity. We must.

For all that is fucking holy, if we become monsters from this fight, why are we fighting?

Just fucking join them.

So, I responded to the tweet stating my views and got a little push back.

I’m paraphrasing, but responses basically said of course they would knock him off because, so far, he’s getting away with his crimes and his policies are killing people. Also, his hatred and bigotry are hurting the world and must be stopped.

I have two problems here.

First of all, of course I loathe him.

I will fight against him with everything I have and will not mourn when he dies.

Quite frankly, I am stunned the Big Macs haven’t done their job yet.

But I believe in the sanctity of life and if I decide I can pick and choose, then where does it stop? Where?

I have to believe that in the end, the good guys are going to win. When this dark chapter closes, we are going to be left with millions and millions of terribly racist, angry bigoted people. Do we just stomp on all their fingers?

We have to find a way to live with each other.

I am not saying we condone the behavior. Fuck that. It should be renounced, rejected and shunned. People who choose to keep their bigoted views should know no peace. But we’re going to have to give them room to grow and change.

The second issue I have is we are fighting for our democracy. For our rule of law.

Our rule of law.

The only way the right can win is by cheating. With gerrymandering, voter suppression, fraud or help from foreign hostile governments.

We need to win, and protect our rule of law, but we can’t when we don’t follow our rule of law.

The president needs to be held accountable. If he is, that will strengthen our rule of law.

If accountability gets sidestepped, rule of law will stay in peril.

It will not be tested and will not grow.

If we had the opportunity to dispose of our problem without following our own rules, wouldn’t that mean we won by the same means we are fighting against? Wouldn’t that mean we must admit we are fighting for something we actually don’t believe in?

I believe in life. I believe in us.

When all is said and done, I hope what remains doesn’t look like what we were fighting against.

I hope we can still call ourselves the good guys.


Photo courtesy of Anja.