March 31, 2010

It's Hard Being Anti-Social

Today at work, it was nearing lunch time, and a woman from down the row (aisle?) in my particular section of the cube farm stopped by and asked me if I wanted to go for a walk.

A simple matter for most people, but not me.  I chat with this woman occasionally and it's always easy to break away whenever I want.  However, going for a walk with her would mean that I would have to engage in organized conversation for at least a half-hour.  No breakaways allowed.

So I hemmed and hawed for a few seconds, and mercifully, she suggested that we walk over to the cafeteria to get some lunch and bring it back.  Okay, so I could handle the couple of minutes it would take to do this, and I agreed.

As we walked and talked, she mentioned where she lived, and it just happened to be in the same village I do. Before I could stop myself, I blurted out "Hey, that's where I live!"  The second the words left my lips, I tried to grab them back, but it was too late.  Not missing a beat, the woman said "Oh, we should carpool together".

There are only a few fast and firm rules in my little world, but one of them is I don't carpool ... With anybody ... Anywhere ... Anytime.

From the minute I owned my first car as a teenager, I drove to and from high school alone.  Same thing in college, and the same thing when I started work.  The time it takes to drive to work in the morning is my prep period.  I clear my head, think of the things I have to do that day, listen to the radio stations that I like; and am free to change stations, throw in a CD or turn the radio completely off if I wish.  And in the evening, the same routine holds, except I use the time to unwind, stop for anything I please and just generally transition to the "home me."

The only time this routine was cast astray was a horrible 5 and a half years that I spent commuting by train to downtown Chicago.  Three hours out of my day crammed into a metal box with a half a hundred coughing, burping, sneezing, farting individuals that I grew to loathe.

I don't know if other people share this feeling, and I don't care.  If this particular quirk is a sign of mental illness is no concern to me.  This small portion of the day is mine, and mine alone.  No sharing.

All of the above flashed through my head following the woman's statement, but only a second went by.  Instead of fumbling for a half-assed, poorly worded, awkwardly stated reason why I didn't want to carpool, I called upon my new-found, old-aged induced bluntness and said "I don't carpool".

And then I waited for the hurt sounding, slightly indignant reply that I knew was coming.  But instead, the woman said "I understand completely", and left it at that.

I was so taken aback that I ended up taking my lunch to her cube and we had a nice conversation as we ate our lunch together.

Damn ... I hate socializing.

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