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Dear guy sitting next to us on the airplane,

Reading a book is (as far as I know) one of the universally-accepted signals that one does not wish to engage in conversation while on public transportation. It is a way of indicating to you that your ceaseless barrage of prying questions is unwelcome, boring, and rude. I bring books with me on the airplane both as a pleasant way of passing the time, and as a method of indicating that I would rather be left alone, without having to go to the trouble of explaining to you that I would rather not tell you my personal history, level of education, field(s) of interest, political and religious beliefs, or sports-team affiliations. I am made especially unhappy if I am forced into the position of having to tell you in so many words that I don't want to answer your questions.

You are likely to take offense at such a bald statement. No matter how these interactions are handled, your persistent refusal to be politely—or, eventually, rudely—brushed off makes our time on this airplane even more uncomfortable than it would otherwise be.

Please, in the future, for the sake of those introverts you may encounter in your travels, LEARN TO TAKE A FUCKING HINT.

Thanking you in advance.

No love,
Mr. Velocipede

P.S. Your screaming child is not helping matters significantly.

This entry was originally posted at http://mrvelocipede.dreamwidth.org/3303.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 1st, 2011 05:51 am (UTC)
Did I ever tell you about my lame-ass arch-nemesis? There's this guy who also frequents my favorite coffee shop in Tucson. I actually try to minimize my contact with the other regulars as much as possible, because otherwise I'll get nothing done ever; sometimes I feel bad about it years later when I do get into conversation with someone at the bar and they'll remark that they've never approached me because I seemed very, well, "self-contained."

But this is not what happened with this guy. Oh, no. No, he decided to start the what's-your-name, I-see-you-here-often, oh-what-are-you-working-on, and-what's-your-field-of-study conversation at 10:30am one morning when I was working on Powerpoint frantically trying to finish a presentation that was due at noon.

I tried to radiate the Leave Me Alone I'm A Total Bitch rays as loudly as possible when he sat down next to me. I sighed heavily in frustration several times for his benefit when I saw him eyeing me hopefully. I did! And I even SAID: I'm working on a talk that's due in one hour.

But no. He kept at it for another five minutes, until I finally said, not very nicely: Look, I really can't talk right now. Could you please leave me alone?

... and as a result, we have spent the last five years avoiding eye contact. It's totally awesome.

Jan. 1st, 2011 05:54 am (UTC)
(Oh, airplanes: I've been pretty lucky. But my poor husband ended up next to a veteran reading Sarah Palin's book last year coming back from Christmas, and got to hear at length why he really ought to read it too.)
Jan. 1st, 2011 06:02 am (UTC)
The Professor got the worst of it in this particular airplane ride: I had the window seat, he was in the middle, and Chatty McGee was on the aisle, with Shrieking Junior on his lap. (Long-suffering Professor gets extra hazard pay for this one.)

The coffee shop thing is awful, and hilarious. I love that you're both still regulars there...neither one willing to concede territory to the enemy, maybe.
Jan. 1st, 2011 06:34 am (UTC)
Seriously, right? Sometimes I think this is horribly awkward, and kind of mean, and maybe I should just cave and try smiling at him or something?

And then I realize: no. I wanted him to leave me alone, and now he's doing that.
Jan. 1st, 2011 06:06 am (UTC)
Also, it occurs to me that if I was adequately rested, and in a trouble-making mood, it might be interesting to do a full-scale brain dump on someone trying for friendly chit-chat. Just tell them my whole fucked-up life story, without letting them ever get in word in edgewise.

Unfortunately, they'd probably just take it as encouragement.
Jan. 1st, 2011 06:35 am (UTC)
Not if you kept it up the whole flight! I just feel sorry for the collateral damage to the poor saps in the rows in front and behind.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )