Friday, January 14, 2011

Continued misadventures in Isabel's being a horrible person

Exhibit A. Though blog comments sections are often not worth reading, this one has some gems. There is the woman who decided that she wanted to make friends with her elevator-mates at work because she thought that this would make things better if she got stuck in an elevator because of terrorism. Lower down, there is the "thoughtful" woman who routinely leaves seasonally appropriate happy holidays notes to her garbage man and the recycling guy.

I realize that this lack of interest in others' lives probably makes me evil and horrible. My mother certainly often urged this sort of friendliness on me growing up, and it has absolutely refused to stick. It is true that relocating to a less than Peyton Place like D.C. has helped, as has having a job where I can justify the need to check e-mail at virtually every conceivably appropriate time and thus avoid social contact.

Perverse though it is, I am actually kind of applying the Golden Rule here. I've worked in policy since law school and thus have never really had clients to speak of since. But the clients that I did have during law school clinics did not really know anything about me as a person, and I frankly was kind of glad they did not. It is true that one of my clients was a gay chicken farmer from rural Georgia who was on the hook for possessing kiddie porn, who was descended from a complex and confusing family tree involving what my supervisor and I thought were multiple instances of incest, although we were admittedly having trouble when we actually tried to draw the relevant chart. Point being that we did not have much in common, so it did not really trouble me that he did not want to be my friend. There was one who used to go on extended rants about how it was unfair that you could get in trouble for stealing a car and then driving to drive it around without having a driver's license, the latter part of which rants could put him in good company at the Cato Institute, except that he never seemed particularly interested in my life either.

See also Jonathan Rauch.

1 comment:

  1. My natural inclination is like yours, i.e. "why can't we just do our business in a brusque, introversion-compatible fashion?" but I have come to realize that a little of this instrumental social lubricant goes a long way. Did I want to chat with the DMV lady about iPhone apps? No. But did it smooth things over so she overlooked my lacking one of the requirements to get my warning dismissed? Yes. It's easier if I think of it as transactional/investment in future niceties.

    The thing that made this very clear to me was spa services, which I'd have thought were ideal for the no-chit-chat method, but the dead air while someone is manhandling you is really horrid.