Thursday, July 7, 2016

One Extrovert Can Ruin Your Whole Day

One wretched extrovert can curdle your whole...dang...day.



It has not been an especially pleasant week since I was last online, Gentle Readers, but nobody in this part of the world expects pleasant weather in July. To our south, the hurricane season begins. We get rain. We get ninety-degree heat, ninety-percent humidity that rots things (including living human skin) before our eyes, a continual wish that a real storm would clear the air, and rolling series of storms that don't clear the air. We get the cool breezes everyone wants for approximately five minutes before the storm hits, followed by hot, steamy air as soon as the rain stops. The storms very seldom qualify as hurricanes--merely edges--but they still cause us to spend most of July looking forward to the first real cool front, which normally arrives around the middle of August.

Fireworks displays were attempted in different parts of town on the nights of July 3, 4, and 5. All three of those fireworks displays attracted serious competition from Abusive Mother Nature.

So it's not been a pleasant week, but, having spent most of the days in an air-conditioned building writing book and product reviews, I hadn't been complaining. Plenty of people have suffered more from the heat; plenty of other years I've been one of them.

This morning I finally scraped up enough money to buy a couple of overpriced drinks and go online from the cafe, so I trudged into town, early, through the pouring rain. I have a cheap, ugly umbrella, which is trying to fall apart, and also leaks; its one redeeming feature is visibility--that school-bus-yellow color is impossible to overlook, much as people probably want to. Various people who claim to be my friends and relatives, when it's not a question of sharing their car with someone whose shoes are already full of filthy water, showed that they had noticed the ugly umbrella by swerving over the double yellow line to drive past me. I quietly considered, once again, which prospective heirs to name in my will in order to inflict maximum pain on any of these selfish slobs who may outlive me. I wasn't planning to wail about that this morning either.

Then I quietly walked into the cafe. Last week a breakfast crowd was there at this time of day; in this weather only one worker was there, so of course, as I quietly washed my hands and counted out money, I heard this person inflicting extrovert manners on me. I quietly withheld eye contact, which, in my relatively oldfashioned and thus civilized part of the world, is usually enough to give extroverts the message that they need to go and drain the vital energy from someone else. No such luck. "You have to communicate with me if you want to come in here!" Hmm...how much does that, also, have to do with the lack of a breakfast crowd? I certainly don't want to make the mistake of being the first person to walk into the cafe again!

I seriously believe we should all work harder at training extroverts to respond to cues like people's withholding eye contact. "Can't you see that that person doesn't want to talk to you, you stupid chattermonkey? Go to your room! You're not allowed to talk to anybody all day! You're a disgrace to the family! You're not allowed to go to school! When people refuse to look at you, that means you have to SHUT UP! Don't let anybody see you until you've got that through your thick skull!"

"Oh, but caaan't people compromise a little and force themselves to smile and chat, even if it's early in the morning, even if it's the fourth nasty, wet, hot day in a row?" No. We can, and many of us do, but we should stop. Extroverts can force themselves to calm down and be quiet. (Especially if it's early in the morning, and especially if it's the fourth nasty, wet, hot day in a row.) There are enough sources of unhappiness in this world without adding overindulged extroverts to the list. We need to shift our perception; it's the person who demands that other people cheer him or her up, not the one who goes about his or her business in silence, who is adding misery to the world and should be made to feel "mean."

Of course, one reason why I say this is that I've learned over the years that people who demand my attention are going to hate me anyway. There's no such thing as a compromise with an extrovert who has not been trained to shut right up when people politely ignore his or her chatter. They have nothing to do with their brains except hate and harass people, and that's what they will do. Trying to appease them with just one smile or greeting or whatever is feeding the monster. People "like" other people when we believe that those people are "like" us, and since all of us nice, kind, public-spirited, quiet, conscientious people are profoundly different from extroverts, there's no way they're ever going to "like" any of us.

If they say "Oh, I like Tracy, who's also a quiet person, because Tracy is nicer than you," we need to understand that (a) this is never actually true--they don't actually respect or appreciate Tracy, whether they have succeeded in bullying Tracy into chattering with them or not, and whether they enjoy borrowing Tracy's stuff or not--and (b) it's probably mere verbal abuse in any case.

So I'd rather continue to be nice, kind, public-spirited, quiet, and conscientious, and one of the nice, kind, public-spirited, quiet, conscientious things I do is let pushy people go ahead and hate me from the beginning, that being their nature.

Nevertheless...much as I do, in fact, enjoy writing snarky, funny posts about the experience...one rotten extrovert can curdle your whole day.

And the Bible doesn't say that people who "love greetings in markets" and "bless their friends with a loud voice, early in the morning" can't be saved, but it does affirm that these behaviors are and should be discouraged. Christians need to do more to encourage nice, quiet behavior and discourage pushy manners, Gentle Readers.