Horrors of the Hallway

There are few places in life as uncomfortable as the hallway. I understand pain, I've had five broken bones bad enough to cast. Four on my left arm and one on my right. I've been abused by the denstist. I've even done unreal harm to myself for no good reason at all. (I wonder why I never see these things comming?) There are cuts, scars and bruises on my person at any given time.

I want you to understand the difference between pain and discomfort. Pain is having a popcorn kernel husk lodged in you teeth for 2 days while you destory your mouth with industrial grade ultencils. Pain is a screaming child, no coffee, and no advil, and a blaring headache. Pain is sleeping in the wilderness for a week on a foam mat 1 inch thick, without electronics or clean restrooms, and calling it a vaction. Pain is a Jane Fonda movie, Ted Kennedy speech, or a Spice Girls album.

These things hurt you.

The hallway is not pain. The hallway is a monster without claws, but with a better weapon, humiliation. It's in the hallway when we see our true self-esteem. I can stand up in front of a room full of people and perform, or pontificate, but I'm completely powerless to walk to the restroom, or go to vending machine, without acting like a ninny.

I find myself stumped by a nicety like "how are you?" Do I lie and say I'm fine? Do I smile, should I stop? What if we get into a long conversation about something, and can't remember their name? Will they be offended if I just kept walking? Around town I try to walk with my head up, and survey the world, I try to be aware of my surrounding. In the hallway I'm a lumbering idoit who gets to doors to quickly to hold it open for whoever is behind me. But if I don't I look rude, and there I am holding the door as they walk by. "What are you doing Peter?"..."I was just standing here getting uncomfortable... yourself?"


J Crew said...

Hallways are awkward, especially when you make eye contact and then say hey like you're 11 and your voicce hasn't changed.

Brendan said...

I know this feeling.... It pretty much reaches its peak when the approaching person knows your name, but you could swear you've never seen them before... I've had complete strangers come up to me and say things like "Hi Brendan.. how’s your Jim, your second cousin twice removed now living in Amsterdam?" which implies not only that I know this person, but that at some point we've had a fairly in depth conversation....

Oh, and while on this topic, I've noticed that lately I've been responding to questions like "How are you?" with "How's it going?". People don't seem to realize that this isn't an appropriate answer to a question... you might want to give it a try sometime.

kludge said...

I was explaining this fear to Patricia, and the only advice she had was "just run." I had strange visions of "That Thing You Do!" where they unplug thier instruments and dart off the stage.
I believe this would only add to the uncomfortable working conditions.