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When you’re confined to a small place for eight hours a day and your job consists of interacting with all kinds of individuals, you’re going to have to engage in conversation.
But for every worthwhile exchange of words and sentences, doormen also have to deal with the banal chatter that churns out of other people’s mouths. Making matters worse, there’s no way for us to escape.
Did you know that the indigenous Xinka people are the oldest inhabitants of southeastern Guatemala? Did you know that the firebrat, a smallish insect, can survive by feeding off of wallpaper glue and book bindings? It can also lay about 50 eggs which hatch in about two weeks.
By no means are these Snapple facts found on the product’s bottlecap. They are just two juicy tidbits that have been drilled into my head, not once, but numerous times by one individual in my building always looking to make small talk.
I fully agree that some idle talk can alleviate a stressful day and make a shift go by quicker, though not so much on the 14th hour of a double, when I feel more like shooting anyone who expects me to stand around and shoot the breeze.
There are three types of talkers in particular that tend to drive the staff nuts:
All About Me’s: You know these people? “I did this, I did that, I had to go here, I have this problem, I hate when this happens. So, how are you doing? Anyway. I have this great idea....”
Conversations like these make doormen feel unimportant.
Inquisitionists: These people traditionally layer their conversations with questions on top of questions. “Why wasn’t there any hot water? Who is the new gentleman on my floor? So when are you taking vacation? What happened with the game tonight? Where is the super?”
Conversations like these add to the stress of being a doorman as far as feeling like we always have to have a right answer, even if sometimes we don’t.
Meanderers: It’s cloudy outside and someone asks whether they should take an umbrella. Normal people might end the conversation there. But meanderers will note that it’s cloudy outside, and it was cloudy last night as well, so it’s definitely going to rain because it did last week.
They also know this is true because their knee is acting up because they broke it when they were ten years old riding a bike their father bought for them on their birthday. The bike was red and the horn tooted kind of funny and everyone on the block made fun of them. They were kind of an awkward kid back in those days so everybody made fun of them, even in school........
Too much said to the point where anyone, not just a doorman, will easily lose interest.
Hey, I like a good conversation every once in a while. And granted there are many people that genuinely do want to know how your weekend was and make you feel like a part of something more than just a fixture in the lobby.
So excuse myself and other doormen if we engage in talk with certain people more than others. It’s probably because we actually get to say a few words, instead of just listening, and listening, and listening.
Other A Doorman Speaks columns:
See all A Doorman Speaks here.