Lazy Luddite Log

11.12.05

Small Talk Marathon

This post kinda contradicts the blurb thing at top of page. I am sure there will be many others like it.

I went to a dinner in the rural township of Shepparton on Friday night. Why? Well the company I work for have a customer service office in Melbourne (I work there) but the factory and warehouse are in Shepparton. Hence most of the employees live and work in Shepparton. Hence having the dinner in Shepparton. I covered the cost of my V-Line return ticket but the company took care of dinner and one night in a motel.

Everyone is nice and the distinctions between staff and managment are pretty much non-existant. But we barely have anything in common so the dinner was a marathon session of small-talking for me. The restaurant took ages to feed us thus prolonging the experience by some hours. So I got a lot of practice in small talk over the course of the night.

Seems to me that for small talk to work involves two things. One is the finding of things one has in common - everyone has something in common with every other person if only they can find it. The other is in comparing notes and discovering the differences in ones experiences of the same thing. It is by this process that small-talk can become interesting and even find a way into more involved conversation.

The closest I came to this was in comparing notes with a colleague on how we spend Christmas and New Year. My Christmas is a very small and relaxed thing with immediate family while theirs is a large and somewhat stressful event involving many relatives. My New Years tends to be a suburban house party with scores of friends while theirs is a select group of family and family-friends in a holiday house on the coast.

As time went on it got more difficult to find new things to discuss (however the slackness of the restaurant gave us one more thing we had in common and the whinging that arose from this was a good time-killer). Still the whole experience was exhausting. It must be the longest stint of small talk I have engaged in for ages. I got satisfactory sleep that night but the next day was tired all day.

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