You're on the bus, sitting next to someone who won't stop talking. You left Penn Station twenty minutes earlier, and so far you've learned all about how she's really excited about the venture capital she's raised for her cloud computing company, or his seven year old's soccer tryouts, or the laptop he's been thinking of buying, or how she's got some ridiculous blog about asking people for shit.
You'd love to hear what this neighbor has to say. If you were deaf, that is.
a) Listen attentively and ask questions as long as the other person is pumped, because that's what Jesus would do?
b) Reply to questions and offer the occasional flat "mmhmm" while trying to read, and conspicuously avoiding follow up questions?
c) Plug your years and exclaim, "No more!! Pleeeeeease!"
Today, I went for option C. And it felt amazing.
Don't get me wrong. I wasn't nearly as brusque as you may think I was. Still, I didn't hold back or take the passive aggressive route, as I normally would have. Instead, after I put in some ear plugs and he tried to talk over them, I told him:
"Wow, looks like we might be hitting some traffic... I think I'm just going to relax and do nothing for a while, just take in the sights and clear my mind after a long day. Do you mind if we chat later?"
"No problem, I get it," he said, smiling. So he didn't take it personally, and I was relieved.
Here's an asking update: I met with the New Yorker reporter today! Between writing and reporting, he took the time to talk to me about the magazine's history and his work. And I am indeed grateful.
Gained: Silence and conversation.