let me cut to the chase… what the fuck is small talk

by matquintinmcgotty 

           Picture this: waking up at 10 am for a class whose homework you completed 2 bowls in, reposting a weed whacking ad you misread as an infographic against unruly marijuana charges, walking to class to the worst song you’ve ever heard in your life, already imagining the end of your day. Yes, you are a UVM student who’s, with neither stakes nor purpose to your life, benefitting from parents you haven’t liked since you began to blame yourself for the divorce. Sure, social media has kept you from thinking for yourself in months, but who needs to put effort into any real anecdote when small talk does just the trick?

           As someone who spent 3 years working at a Starbucks (and aged at thrice the rate), I am no stranger to the dance of small talk. In fact, I would argue that at one point it was something I generally looked forward to. Call it frivolous, but as Americans it is our civic duty to pretend to give a shit about other people! Especially when working a register for 8 hours. Given the choice between relieving myself so violently on the café floor that I am asked to immediately leave the premises and complimenting Keightlynne on her ugly name, I’m going to act on whatever yields the most tip money. And unfortunately for me, the last regular with a pee fetish relieved himself so violently on the café floor that he was asked to immediately leave the premises.

           It is evident that people have different thresholds for engaging in the short, meaningless banter. And although I will defend its boredom busting powers in food service, it can be absolutely exhausting in a college setting. We have so many people living 20 minutes outside of Boston we could fill an entire high school! Finally, a high school experience where queer is the norm.

           Personally, this has made me overly cynical, confusing every conversation I have as meaningless banter until we run out of the surface level. My friends haven’t heard a personal detail about me since I accidentally revealed my middle name started with an Q last semester.

           The more I stay here, I recognize the impacts on my mental health when surrounded by people who don’t watch Survivor. However, it is a reality we must all accept within us. Maybe it is not what people tell us, but how they communicate it. Reading in between the nuances of their facial expressions and taking what little information they shared and recognizing its value to that who momentarily confided in you. However, I swear to God if one more person interrupts my alone time and solely tells me their day was “Good,” after I ask them, I will be hysterically peeing all over this campus, never to return.

Categories: April 26, reflections

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