Monday, 24 April 2017

On Non-Communication.

It happened again. The young man in the coffee shop with an earring and gelled hair asked:

How are things with you today?

I looked at him for a carefully timed 3.7 seconds before replying: ‘What?’

How are things with you today?

‘Pretty much as they were yesterday. And the question isn’t worth asking anyway.’

He turned away to get the cream out of the fridge, mumbling something about only trying to make polite conversation. But it isn’t polite conversation. It’s contrived; it’s superficial; it’s what passes for polite conversation in the soulless corporate mindset; it’s unimaginative and disingenuous. It would have been marginally better if he’d said ‘I see it’s started raining.’ Conversations about the weather are also superficial and unimaginative, but we all do it sometimes and at least it isn’t asking a personal question to which he has no right to receive an answer, especially when I know that he doesn’t give a tuppeny toss about how things are with me today.

I’m waiting for the day when my end is known and near, and then when the man in the coffee shop asks ‘How are you today?’ I can answer ‘Dying.’ He will probably smile and continue: ‘You mean dying for lunch?’, and I can say ‘No, dying of a terminal illness.’ For once the conversation won’t be superficial, and I will be genuinely interested to see how he reacts. I wonder how long it will be.

Meanwhile, I had a conversation of slightly more substance with the woman clearing the tables, just so that at least one of the staff didn’t get the mistaken impression that I’m a miserable git.

The next post will probably be about British and French political elections. These are stressful times in more ways than one, and the capacity for humour is in recession.

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