Be polite, don’t engage.

Now this will probably come across as a rant and I might regret posting this later; but, really, I don’t care.  I’ve been noticing the most annoying trend on public transportation lately – people who insist on talking to you (at you, really) even if you’re reading a book or listening to music or knitting.

I mean, really, have these people never had any lessons in common courtesy?  I always pull my headphones out or close my book for the first and second question/ remark and answer/ respond as politely as possible, “No, I’m not a student,” “Yes, I am knitting,” “Yes, this book is interesting.”

But when they ask another banal question after I’ve gone back to my music, knitting, or book, I tend to get a bit snippy.

Maybe it’s rude, but I’ve stopped caring.  It’s taken me a while to get to this point (remember, I was raised in the South), but I don’t want to chit chat about my life with a total stranger.  Seriously, guy (and they’re almost always men), I don’t want to talk to you about my sock or my job or whatever.

Is it really so much to expect people to respect boundaries?

Grr.

—–

I’m feeling a little better now (12 hours later), but still baffled by this phenomenon.  What would possess someone to interrupt another person who is so clearly involved in another activity?  It’s so rude.  I would never, ever interrupt a person’s reading or… whatever.

Anyway.  I’ll probably never know.  And I’m never going to lose my cool enough to actually snap at someone “Can’t you see that I’m (blank)?  Why do you continue to interrupt me?”  My Mama would kill me if I did.  That or Mrs. K, my South of the Delta English teacher from 6th grade who taught us etiquette as well as spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  Man, I had the best posture after her class.

I’m also in a better mood because I found two new (a bit esoteric) albums at Everyday Music downtown that I’m really excited about:

and

Now that they’ve been put on my iPod, I think I’m going to go and listen to them – I listened to a couple tracks from both at the store, but would like to hear the rest.  And, heaven knows, I might not get to listen to my iPod on the bus tomorrow (oy).

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7 thoughts on “Be polite, don’t engage.

  1. Allison

    a confession: I don’t even turn my MP3 player down or take my headphones off when spoken to by a stranger on the bus (once I’ve established that they are just making chit chat, not asking me to move over, or something like that).

    I don’t drive, never have, and have spent a lot of my life on public transit. I don’t socialize, don’t make eye contact if I can help it. I totally don’t think your being rude.

    Reply
  2. Megan

    If you are knitting I’ll likely to try to make eye contact with your or compliment your project but if given a terse but polite answer I drop the conversation. Actually, to be more realistic I’m normally corralling kids and don’t have time to talk to anyone in person without interruption.

    You could always feign a language barrier too.

    Reply
  3. fuzzyjay

    You are describing a certain kind of extrovert. Being stuck close to one of them in a bus is a kind of hell, especially to someone enjoying their own thoughts.

    The book “Introvert Power” describes some strategies for dealing with these types. (ISBN 1402211171. Multnomah County Public Library has it.) I recommend the book highly.

    Reply
  4. Lydia

    This may not be the best way of dealing with it, but, if I’ve done all of the polite signals (earphones, lack of eye contact, etc.) I tend to reply to questions with “I’m sorry, what did you say? I was really concentrating on grading/this bit of knitting/my book.” Each question has to be entirely repeated for me to answer it. People who aren’t picking up on the not wanting to talk or the repeated concentrating eventually get tired of repeating themselves.

    Reply
  5. Greyor

    Sara, I hate that too. Living in San Francisco for four years, you NEED to have an iPod on the bus, because people WILL talk to you and they WILL be annoying. I was rarely, if ever, without a book and/or my iPod. Often I had white noisy music on in the background whilst reading a book. So I totally understand where you’re coming from with this.

    Reply
  6. penny

    move here! move here! the only ones that try THAT are tourists. or those that just moved here and you are too smart to do that when you move here.

    the knitting i kinda understand curiosity getting to them, because as a young woman, of course i’m knitting baby booties because i’m pregnant right? and even though it is a grey lace (ishbel) shawl (I’m finally in chart C thank you very much for interrupting me Sir), all young women knit only baby booties for their babies and must be pregnant. Right?? (it does kinda suck that i do have friend baby things I need to knit, makes it hard to knit those in public).

    Reply
  7. penny

    I must say lately, the biggest issue for me wwith public transit is those that MUST sit next to me on an empty train, bus. And it’s not just lewd guys who think “yes i can sit next to a pretty girl and fantasize” … i must be a magnet of some sort.

    Or today — the two women who went into the city for the morning/early afternoon for X Y Z and are gabbing the entire trip back and because they aren’t on their phones and they’re not screaming it’s hard to say “shut up”. since they’re the *only* ones in the train car talking ..

    Reply

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