Overly Friendly or Downright Nosy?
Up until the last few years, I’ve lived my entire life in and around two major northeast cities. Now that I’m living in the south, I’ve come across something I’d never experienced in either the NY or Philadelphia metro areas. Down south, it’s impossible to run routine errands without getting sucked into conversations with total strangers.
Here’s an example from a recent morning’s trip to the bank and supermarket:
I stopped at the bank to cash a check. Members of Booklover’s Bench share in the various expenses associated with running the blog. One person will pay the bill, then the others will reimburse her or him. I had recently paid a small bill for the group. When broken up amongst us, it amounted to a whopping $1.13 per member. Everyone except one member had reimbursed me via one of the payment apps. Because her bank wouldn’t allow her to send a payment less than $5.00, she mailed me a check.
When I entered the bank, I was the only customer. You’d think I’d be able to zip in and out. And yet, it took me nearly fifteen minutes to cash that check. Why? Because the teller couldn’t wrap his head around why someone would write a check for $1.13, and he wasn’t satisfied with the simple explanation that it was reimbursement. He then segued into a variety of other topics unrelated to my $1.13 check.
I couldn’t even tell a lie and say, “Thanks, I’m late for an appointment. Gotta run,” because he hadn’t yet cashed my check.
Errand running is not my favorite pastime. It eats up a huge chunk of my day when I could be writing. I should have deposited the check electronically, but I never expected a quick trip to the bank to take so long.
When another customer entered the bank, the teller finally decided it was time to end my transaction and asked, “How would you like this?” Was he trying to be funny, or did he think I wanted a hundred and thirteen pennies? Or maybe twenty-two nickels and three pennies? When I told him just as a dollar and thirteen cents, he asked if wanted the funds in an envelope. I declined the envelope and dropped the money into my coat pocket.
I then drove to the supermarket where the bagger and cashier started up a conversation about the song currently playing over the sound system. The cashier was incensed that the song was a cover of a George Michael song and not the original. (Note: my choice of incensed is not hyperbole.) This was not a conversation between the two employees as they rang up and bagged my order. Both kept trying to elicit my opinion on the subject.
I have no opinion of George Michael or whoever was covering the song, but as with the teller, I didn’t want to be rude. However, the line was backing up. You’d think one of the other customers would make a nasty comment loud enough for the cashier and bagger to speed things up. That’s what would have happened back in Philadelphia, New York, or New Jersey. Not where I live now. As a matter of fact, in previous situations, other customers in line have chimed in with their own opinions on the topic du jour.
I get it. Most bank tellers and retail workers have boring jobs, doing the same task over and over eight hours a day, five days a week. I also suspect part of their job training is in politeness, and they think it’s polite to engage customers in this way. I don’t mind a friendly, “How are you today?” that I can answer with a smile and a short, “Fine thank, you,” no matter how my day is going. But then, they usually want to know what my plans are for the remainder of the day, as if we’re BFFs!
Rarely, would I come across an overly chatty salesperson in any of the places I used to live, and I can’t ever remember a stranger standing in line behind me try to strike up a conversation. These people better watch out, though. I’m an author, and everything is character or plot fodder.
What’s it like where you live? Do strangers consistently try to draw you into conversations, or do they rarely even make eye contact? Post a comment for a chance to win a promo code for a free download of the audiobook version of A Sew Deadly Cruise, the ninth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series.
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Posted in Let's Talk, with Lois Winston • Tags: A Sew Deadly Cruise, Let's Talk, Lois Winston, Overly Friendly or Downright Nosy? | 40 Comments