It was 5:00 PM. I packed up my things at my desk, put my cardigan on, and headed back to the locker room where the time clock is. There were a bunch of guys from the warehouse in there conversing. I gave a small smile to the guys and punched out, not wanting to interrupt their conversation. I don’t really know any of them either.
As I was leaving, I heard a pause in the conversation, and then a sarcastic “bye!” I wondered if I should have said goodbye to them, but shrugged it off. They were talking and I didn’t want to interrupt. Then I heard in a derogatory, whisper, “Does she ever talk to anyone?”
“She doesn’t talk to me.”
“Why doesn’t she talk to anyone?”
I kept walking, not wanting to hear anything else that they might have to say about me. But all throughout my drive home, their words kept ringing through my head. Was it impolite of me not to say goodbye? Maybe I should have said goodbye? Have a good night? Why is it a big deal that I didn’t say bye? I don’t glower at them. I smiled. That’s like a goodbye, right?
I kept questioning my actions leading up to that moment and far before that. Was it weird that I didn’t talk to a lot of the warehouse guys? I work in the office and I only see them at the end of the day when I’m about to leave. I don’t talk frequently with a lot of the other people in the office except for our receptionist who is probably one of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I talk just enough to do my job.
And then I started to get really mad. My job pays me to do just that – my job. They don’t pay me to socialize or make friends. If I don’t want to talk to other people – or hey, here’s a thought – painfully struggle through conversations with coworkers who are all thirty years older me and share hardly anything in common with me, why should I have to? Who are they to judge me? They know nothing about me or what I’m going through. I’ve only been there a month – if anything they should have introduced themselves!
I’m an introvert and I always have been. I am just naturally a quiet person. Unless I know the person really well, small talk is kind of difficult and awkward for me. I understand some people can naturally just talk and talk and talk, but I’m not like that. I shouldn’t have to feel like a freak just because of that.
The more I think about the situation, the more it annoys me. If they want to have a conversation with me, they can walk into the office and talk to me. Ask me how my weekend is and I’ll answer you. It’s not like I hide in a corner and don’t speak when spoken to.
Their words shouldn’t bother me. I don’t know what else was said after I left – though I imagine nothing nice – and even though there was nothing inherently mean about what they specifically said, it was how they said it. Their voices lowered just enough so they thought I couldn’t hear them. Snide.
So I can be mad and I can say that if they want to talk to me they can come in and talk to me, that I have no obligation or even reason to talk with them, but their words still sting and a day later I still can’t get them out of my head.