Drop the “I” and forget the “we”
“Nobody cares” Said Chaz Paliminteris sympathetic mob boss Sonny in A Bronx Tale. Fitting that it was a film about fatherly role models that it was something I didn’t understand until many years later. What I understood was that he was absolutely right.
Think about it, we all do it, no one can claim not to. We all tell stories about ourselves. If someone mentions a town, say for example, Leicester, someone in the office, most often it seems to be the same person, but will be others at one time, someone will say “I’ve got a brother who lives there” or “I went there on the piss once and we went to…….blah” and think about this, when was the last time, or first time come to think of it, that you cared, and wanted to know any more about it? No? I will lay odds though that you were still told about it.
I worked for many years as a partner to another buyer who was so dull that when she came in one morning and said she’d nearly been hit by a lorry on the way in and (after going into tedious detail) one guy responded by asking if she fell asleep during that point. She had him suspended for saying it. She got pregnant and went individually to EVERY single member of staff with her scan photo, that is over 90 people by the way. When she got a photo frame for secret santa she put a picture of her offspring in it and went desk to desk again.
What was exceptionally annoying was that she would always leave an non-rhetorical questioning inflection at the end, e.g”She’s so cute, ISN’T she? Now I am proud of my child and adore her and if people ask I tell, but I don’t force. Never have. I love her from second one till we are all dust, she’s my all, but I don’t expect any of you to give a toss about her, just as I won’t about any of yours (loved ones exempt).
It was so irksome. She would easily spend three working hours a week boring everyone with average tales of whatever, often involving a partner with marginally less personality than a hairpin with a cats face on it. What made it worse was that you would hear it repeatedly, each time a little quieter, as the lucky recipient got further from our desk. One day she spent a good five minutes waxing tranquil about the numerical structure of her landline telephone number. Maybe it was a Freudian slip when I sent an email to a mate at the other end of the office (who used to get furiously annoyed about it also) telling her how she was boring us all with this and how I needed rescue but accidentally sent it to Miss Mogadon herself instead! One of those kneejerk moments that while you may say was mean, was caused more by the fact of not that she was always going on about herself and would turn every subject to her own banal life, but that she didn’t give a fuck about anyone else. Not like she would say, after a twenty minute speech on what she said to the pizza delivery man and how it was SOOOO funny because it sounded like she said etc etc etc, “OK so tell me about your weekend”, she would just elicit a fake compliment and move on to the next victim.
Smokers are often vilified for all the extra time off they get for fag breaks but I say it pails into insignificance when matched to the idle self-obsessed vanity posturing that goes on non stop.
We are not robots, I know, if you are out for lunch, down the pub, just having a bit of banter in the office or whatever, have a chat about it, tell someone what you did last night, its all cool. What is not okay though, is pouncing on a subject like a university challenge starter for ten to relate it to your own life when someone else is saying something. If someone says they took a friend to the football at the weekend, don’t immediately respond by saying how you are going next week. Its the selfish hi-jacking that bothers me. It is so rude, and it wastes time like you wouldn’t believe.
So try only saying about yourself in response to a question or to give reference. If someone says they are going to Alton Towers next week, say you went last month, but then don’t steel the scene by regaling with your stories.
This is something that has annoyed me recently so I am not polishing or editing this blog. Its a lazy one, so fucking shoot me. Just next time you are about to start a story about yourself, ask WWSD? (What Would Sonny Do) ask if you would want to hear someone else say what you are about to say, and if you have answered yourself honestly (and are not a total imbecile) the chances are you will say nothing and we can all go home on time. Which is good because I am taking my daughter to the swings and I have just bought her a coat she can’t wait to wear. Its beige.