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oh, i know you aren't talking to me!
conversation phasers locked on stun
by michael d. driscoll
12.18.00
humor

When I went inside the bank to deposit a check, I didn’t expect to withdraw God.

Banks are an all-too-familiar scene when someone opts to go inside rather than use the drive-through. You don’t just step inside of a bank; you are transported into a pseudomicrouniverse of greed and confusion accompanied by royal dictators (tellers), misunderstood subjects (those waiting), and long lines for "bread." For me, modern day banks are yesterday’s medieval courts, and I’m strangely attracted to this notion.

Pleasing Miss Manners with my poise and grace, I faced forward in the line with plenty of personal space between my predecessor and me. It should come as no surprise the line was long, winding through the bank-imposed maze of velvet ropes to the Promised Land or Studio 54. I took this time to review my deposit slip, prepare my questions for the teller and look for signs of intelligent life. It was then my eyes focused on one particular man walking into the building with a thick knit hat, golashes, and a scarf. It was his fashion choice on a sunny 68-degree day that set off my radar. "This one’s a talker," I said to myself.

You know who these people are before they notice you. They are the ones who mistake quiet time in lines or wherever people are gathered as a chance to meet the people around them and form a common bond. Their function in society is to pollenate the air with strained conversation, uncomfortable posturing, and unfocused discussions. More often, these people create enemies around them in lines at grocery stores, gift-wrapping stations at department stores, and there, that day, at a bank. And as we know, the natural enemy of a talker is a sarcastic person with a low threshold for noise pollution.

Enter me.

In my younger days I was not one for idle chitchat as a form of interaction. Either you said what you needed to say or you shut up. At my zenith of low thresholds for bad conversation, I was known to test a person’s wit by eloquently insulting them to their face and waiting for them to realize what I had done. When they didn’t catch it, I continued until I was bored. When they did, well, I usually dated them or we became good friends.

To illustrate my point, my best friend dated a conductor in the traveling Broadway show "Phantom of the Opera." I was not fond of this particular conductor from the start, but when he stated that calluses that formed from holding the little white conductor’s stick had recently gone away, I quickly asked "So what changed? Did you finally learn how to use it correctly after all of these years?" He was not one of the lucky ones. He launched into a discussion of proper baton use and I became increasingly distant from the table in mind and body.

Now, fearing karma is a good possibility, I do not entertain that old game these days, but for the first time in years, when I spotted this particular talker walking into the bank, it became evident to me I was once again locked and loaded for a conversation.

Standing behind me was smartly dressed and quiet African American woman who shielded me from the large, balding talker whose vocal generators were set on high. He was ready to pounce at any moment. All he needed was a good line or eye contact with his prey. In all of my years of standing in line with talkers, his approach was a first.

"You ever heard of a general revelation, ma’am?" He asked in a tenor voice.

The woman kindly replied, "No, huh-uh. What is it?" With that response the talker had his engraved invitation. She even made eye contact! Rule number one, don’t make eye contact with a talker. It shows you’re interested.

"You see, a general revelation is something we can all have, see? It’s this knowin’ we get when we look at the trees, the mountains and when we smell the air. We know that God is working in all of us right then and there, yes sir, we sure do," he said with a smile. "To know God is working right now on those things is cause for celebration, am I right?"

The talker did what he came to do. He infected the seemingly quiet woman with talkativeness cantshutus-upus. Outside of the roll of one’s eyes there continues to be no cure for this pandemic.

She replied, "Uh-huh, it sho’ is. And you know ‘bout this crazy weather. You know what that is, don’tchoo?" She provided the answer without prompting, "It’s God lettin’ us know he’s in charge, am I right? Uh-huh, I sho’ is right, that’s what I’m tellin’ you. It snowed last Sunday for no reason, and it rained the next Sunday. Now look at today, it’s 68 degrees and sunny. That’s God awlright... just lettin’ us know he’d up there. He don’ sleep. He don’ eat. He’d just watchin over us and changin’ the weather."

It is with that last line describing God’s responsibilities that I understand why he was so bitchy in the First Testament of the Bible. I know that if I didn’t eat or sleep, and had to alter the weather (anyone know a good snow dance?), I would have been a little crabby, too.

At the end of the day — especially that one — I consider myself an agnathiest at times. This is someone who believes in the possibly of a God, but is really bummed about it. Other times I sit on the fence clinging like a baby to Pascal’s wager that we should believe in a God because if we’re right, we get to go to heaven, and if we’re wrong, what did we really lose by believing? But that day, in the pseudomicrouniverse of Bankdom, I learned that I can still spot a talker with precision, that the drive-through really is faster, and most importantly, God isn’t so busy after all.


ABOUT MICHAEL D. DRISCOLL

Curious about everything, Michael plans to do it all. A ruffian by day and a lover by night he's managed to go where no one else has gone. His slight forgetfulness means he is curious about everything and plans to do it all. A ruffian by day and a lover by night he's managed...

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COMMENTS

lee anne ramsey
12.18.00 @ 7:35p

My mom's one of the "talkers" of this world. Used to embarrass the hell out of me as a kid.

michael driscoll
12.19.00 @ 4:22p

Someone told me earlier today that our own Roger Striffler is a talker. Who would have thunk Lee Anne's mom was Roger?

jael mchenry
12.20.00 @ 10:58a

Oooh. And I thought the talking pastry discussion was weird.

roger striffler
12.23.00 @ 6:17p

Oh no, I'm not a talker - I'm worse. I'm a talker target. They can find me in any line, anywhere in the world. It really isn't safe to even be near me in line, because I'll attract the talker, then leave you with him.

BTW, Jael may or may not be Joe, or vice versa, but I definitely am not Lee Anne's mother. No offense Lee Anne - I'm sure she's a very nice lady...which is how I can be sure she's not me.


rachel tarbell
12.26.00 @ 11:52a

never stop believing in God- Just above all else be true to yourself!

michael driscoll
12.26.00 @ 6:25p

um...ok



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