Not to belabor the weird thing, but I try not to make conversation with people in the food service industry because I’m so weird and I assume everyone is like me in that they don’t want to be talked to. I should remember that 70% of people are extroverts and in fact, connecting with one another is what we’re here for and all of that. I don’t know, I guess I go back and forth on the issue. When it comes to business transactions I aim to be friendly but brief.
Cody takes me to asian restaurants and asks the waitstaff questions. He wants to know everyone’s name. There’s this book from the sixties I like a lot called Games People Play. It measures social gestures into measurable units called “strokes.” Actually just watch this Curb your Enthusiasm clip and then we’ll continue.
Dude saying hi to Larry equals one stroke. Larry saying hi back returns with a single stroke, but the first guy has this expectation of more strokes. I swear I have a point.
I like to cut off most conversations after a few strokes. Honestly I think I’m afraid of rejection, or of boring the other person, or I glimpse my own future boredom. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.
It’s weird for me to hang out with people who aren’t afraid of stroking but I do it often. And I’ve formed a hypothesis about it: food service industry people take about 2 or 3 strokes before they soften up and let their guard down. So it goes something like this.
“your green curry is amazing.” (1 stroke)
“yeah, thanks.” (a cordial but wary reception.)
“No really, I quite enjoy the curry.” (2 strokes)
“I too enjoy green curry…” (still suspicious but coming around…)
“Your setup is beautiful. Have you had this place for long?” (stroke 3)
“About a year and a half and I am now won over, sir!”
And suddenly the guy is telling us his life story and giving us free drinks at noon on a wednesday and I am proven wrong once again.
Then I said something weird and cody said I was awkward and I cried in the parking lot. I told him, through copious tears, that I knew I was overreacting. We smoothed it over. When we got home I picked up my guitar and played a few chords. Cody told me I was holding the pick wrong and I started crying again. After that he was nice to me and told me over and over again how great I was. I got really good results from crying. I might try it again later.