As I step out of my car I catch sight of her vehicle pulling into the parking lot. I gather my items from the passenger side as quickly as possible and head for the door. She is more than 15 feet behind me, there’s no way I’ll need to speak to her. I couldn’t be more wrong. “Good morning!” she calls, nearly shouting. I close my eyes, wincing inwardly. “Morning.” I mumble in response. She must be walking as fast as her legs can carry her as she is gaining on me.
“Have you settled in to the house yet?” She’s right behind me now. I don’t even look back. “Yup.” I lie. I’m still organizing things. In fact, just this past weekend I cleaned out the garage. I don’t want to start a conversation so I lie.
“Well I bet you’re relieved.” Another inward grunt. She is really trying to get a full conversation out of me. “Yea.” is all I say in response. Those who know me would have noticed that my simple replies indicate I’m not in the mood to talk, but she doesn’t know me and she wouldn’t stop even if she did. She’s one of those people.
One of those people I’ve always felt a distinct need to withdraw from. She’s desperate. She needs human interaction. She needs to be liked. She needs to be your best friend. For as long as I can remember I’ve attracted them. Those with the absolute, insatiable desire to fit in, to belong, to be accepted by any and all that surround them.
I’ve been told it’s my father coming out in me. Our ability to get along with anyone we meet. The ability we have to make those around us feel comfortable and heard. It’s something in our eyes and the way they say “I’m listening” even if inwardly we’re dying to get away.
“I think we’re supposed to get storms today.” She says, again trying to make conversation where there is none.
I turn around to face her. “Shut the fuck up!” I yell sharply, then turn and walk into the building, leaving her bewildered on the sidewalk.
I wish I had the bravado to actually do it, but I don’t. Instead I just say “Oh.” as I continue walking into the building.
I wasn’t always this cold…I don’t think. I don’t remember always feeling this surge of anger and annoyance when someone tries to pull me into a conversation I am not interested in. At one time I would smile politely and continue the conversation even if, inwardly, I wanted to rip my hair out. Now I have no smile for these people. I have no use for developing relationships with the desperate. They have turned me into a recluse. I withdraw deeper into myself the more they try to pull me out.
I cannot tolerate their necessity for confirmation. Maybe it is because I have never felt the sting of outright rejection that I cannot understand or sympathize with them. Perhaps they grew up in an abusive relationship or without many friends, something has caused them to yearn for approval, for acceptance.
To an extent I have the desire to be accepted and generally liked; however, I have never pushed for it. If I receive even the slightest hint that someone does not want to be close to me I take a step back. I give them their space. I do not push the limits of how much they will tolerate before they loath me. This is more true in a work environment.
This may sound cold, but I view my co-workers as those I require to get my job done or those who require me to get their job done. There is no other purpose than for us to complete a task for the company we are employed by. I do not want to be my co-worker’s best friend. I do not want to go out for drinks at the end of a long day with them. I do not want them to talk to me for twenty minutes in the break room.
There are, of course, exceptions to this. In my current location, there are a total of three out of about one-hundred co-workers that I sincerely enjoy being around. Those three are the few that understand my personality, that have learned what I like, what I don’t like. They understand when I am not in the mood to hold conversations. They leave me to work when they know that’s what I want. We have an understanding, we know when to talk and when to be quiet.
I speed-walk purposefully toward my office, hoping with every step she doesn’t continue to drag me into her needy world. Once I am in my office, I shut the door behind me, thankful for the peace and quiet it gives me.