Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Series of Uncomfortable Conversations

Strange today as I seemed to attract all kinds of crazy. I submit to you, in summary form, three uncomfortable conversations:

1. The unbelievably boring guy at the office

Periodically, I’ve been sucked into little chats with my office’s own version of Milton (I swear to you, they even look alike). Past exchanges have yielded real info gems… did you know, for example, that the word “checkmate” comes from the Persian phrase “Shah Mat,” meaning “the king is dead.”

These little bits of life-altering trivia have always come completely out of left field. We’ve never discussed chess or Ancient Persia, and we never will.

[DISCLAIMER: I did not pull that fun fact from memory; I had to look it up.]

But today Milton decided to stick around, blocking my only possible escape by standing in my cubicle entryway. Not to sound dramatic, but I strongly considered climbing on my desk and jumping over the wall or stabbing myself in the neck with a pen to get out of it.

I wish he had a story as interesting as the origin of “checkmate” to share. He didn’t. He told me all about his 36-year-old son and how he’s seeing a new woman – a stewardess. And no amount of “Ah,” “Yep,” or blank stares clued him into my pain. 23 minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

2. An comfortable setting for what would be entertaining gab

In the afternoon, my neighbor from across the cubicle divide stopped by and informed me she had just quit. Well now, that’s interesting. Go on.

Problem was she went on at length about how terrible it is working here, and how much of a “raving nutcase,” (her words, not mine) our boss is. It made for extremely uncomfortable repartee since one of us still works here… I can’t exactly say “I know, she’s a maniac,” can I?

She’s saying things like, “I just can’t do it anymore. You should bolt too.”And I’m sure the other people on my side of the building were listening in, so I tried to nod a lot.

3. The raving lunatic at the supermarket

And lastly, on my way home from work I swung by Shaws to grab dinner. While picking out steak, a woman snatched some packaged rib eyes from right out of my hand. I was stunned. It wasn’t the last pack or anything. She held it up, inspected it, said “nah,” and threw it back down.

As I always shy away from confrontation, especially with potentially unstable individuals, I didn’t say anything and grabbed another pack. She put her hand on my shoulder, and here’s my best attempt at re-creating the strangest conversation I’ve ever had in my life:

“No. Not that one either.”
“Excuse me?”
“That’s no good. Like the other one.”
“Don’t get that one. You shouldn’t even get steak.”
--stares blankly--
“Do you have any idea what red meat does to your colon?”
“Ummm… I’m getting steak. Thank you though.”
“Fine, but don’t come crying to me later.”
“I won’t. Thanks.”
“I don’t appreciate the attitude.”
“Ummm… this is weird. I’m gonna go.”
“You’re the one making it weird.”

Here’s a bad picture of the crackpot (taken from a safe distance under the cover offered by an end-of-aisle cereal display) >>

This dramatic retelling has been brought to you by Shaws, the friendly townsfolk of Northbridge, and marketfresh USDA choice beef rib eye.

Strange day.

A few random items:

  • It’s August 4th and I’m three meals into my 30-Day Challenge. All have been pretty good so far, meatball subs on Monday, pan-fried pork chops last night, and rib eye steak with maple cinnamon mashed sweet potatoes tonight. I’m cruising.
  • In case he’s a reader, congrats to Alex Rodriguez for hitting his 600th home run. It’s always a nice break from work to hear John Sterling launch into scripted hyperbole.
  • I listened to a lot of Beach Boys today… and found this: Johnny Cash’s earlier recording of “Sloop John B (I Want to Go Home).”

That’s more than enough for one day.


  1. That last one can't be true.

  2. I swear to you sir, I speak the truth.

    And welcome to Boston.

  3. That last story made my day. Almost as funny as the story which inspired the very name of this blog.