Thursday, October 1, 2009

The dangers of small talk

So, yesterday I was at work in the music library here at the zoo. A lady came in and wanted to check out some scores that are kept in our Primrose International Viola Archive, so I led her back to a special place in a far corner of the library on the fourth floor and keyed in the secret code on the golden keypad (yes, it really is golden). I then led her inside the archive, which is a large room with green, luscious carpet, dark, stained wood, dim, recessed lighting, original paintings, three rare violas, and a couple of statues to boot (oh, and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of actual music). I asked her if she was a violist, but it turned out she was a pianist. Having chosen such a worthy occupation, I trusted that she could handle herself maturely amongst all the splendor, and I left the room, closed the golden keypadded door with a soft clank, and headed back to the main desk, where I was supposed to be working.

A while later, she made her way back to my desk with a big stack of scores she wanted to check out. One thing you've got to understand: sometimes it can get pretty awkward checking out books to someone if both of you are just standing there in dead silence, except for the part where the computer says "beep" twenty times while you scan the books through and then deactivate the tattle strip in all the spines. So, naturally, I try to make a little small talk with patrons while I'm getting their stuff checked out. I know, I know, sometimes I'm such an overachiever. Hahahaha. Ha.

Anyway, since she had said that she was a pianist but she was checking out viola scores, I asked her if she was a professional accompanist. She thought about it for a second and kind of cocked her head and then said, "Well, yes, I guess I am." I then replied, "Wow, that's great! Did you by any chance attend the piano program here at BYU?"

Lady: "Yes, actually, I did!"

Me: "Cool. I'm a piano major here right now. When did you graduate?"

And then of course, while she was trying to think what year she had graduated, my big mouth had to tack on what my brain was thinking, as if to help her along in the remembering process...

Me: "a really long...."

*biting tongue*

Yes, I almost said, "a really long time ago?"

I quickly attempted to cover my blunder by distracting her and asking with whom she had studied. It sort of worked. But it made me feel like such a hostile, inconsiderate manipulater. And seriously, she wasn't even old. She was probably in her mid- to late forties. Why, of all things, was THAT particular phrase the one that my brain had to come up with first? Maybe this is a sign that I need to spend a little less time practicing and a little more time working on my spontaneous conversation skills...

I can just imagine tomorrow's headlines:

BYU LIBRARY EMPLOYEE IMPLIES THAT PATRON IS "OLD," PATRON SUES LIBRARY FOR $5 BILLION
.

Cataclysmic events that would most likely follow:

"LACK OF FUNDING CLOSES UNIVERSITY LIBRARY"

"UNIVERSITY CANNOT FUNCTION WITHOUT LIBRARY, ANNOUNCES DISSOLVEMENT"

"CLOSURE OF LORD'S UNIVERSITY WREAKS HAVOC ON MORMONS THROUGHOUT WORLD: MARRIAGE RATE DOWN 67%"

And so on, until:

ARMAGEDDON IMMINENT. END OF WORLD PROJECTION: 2 MONTHS, 5 DAYS.

Yeah, I should definitely work on those conversation skills.

2 comments:

LaShel said...

Lol! (So I make it a point to almost never say that, but in this case I'm was literally laughing my guts out at your headlines, so I think it's somewhat appropriate).

It if helps you feel any better, the patron would definitely have no cause of action. You weren't trying to offend her, and unintentional (negligent) infliction of emotional distress is almost impossible to get from a judge... you basically have to hit someone's kid with a car while they watch.

Ack... I remember some of the awkward conversations I used to have with people when I worked at Macey's. It's bad to sit there an scan an entire cart in silence, but sometimes the small talk makes things even worse (the worst, I think, was down at Terrels. There was a boy who would always come through my line and seemed very shy but whom I suspected kind of had a crush on me. One day, he asked me out while I was ringing up his hamburger buns. Rather than giving a regular human answer [perhaps explaining nicely that I had a boyfriend] I just said "Oh, sorry, I can't. I'm moving away that day." Which was true, but came out sounding like an obviously fake, mean blow off. *sigh*)

Sorry about the novel-length comment... My fingers are basically uncontrollable because of the Britny-withdrawal. I can't wait for Christmas break when we can finally party!

Kerri said...

That made me laugh! Yes, small talk can get dangerous if your not careful....LOL! I didn't know you had a website. That's awesome! How long have you had it?