There is an art which I have yet to master. No, I don’t mean the art of writing. I mean the art of minding my own business. Every year on Yom Kippur, I throw bread into a lake. To Jews everywhere this symbolizes casting away our sins. To others, it symbolizes feeding the ducks. (Occasionally I’ve been chased by zealous park officials: Apparently tossing away sins is prohibited there.) Every year, for as long as I can remember one of my “sins” that I throw away is “minding my own business”. Unfortunately, it usually limps out of the lake and boomerangs back to me about two days later.
Don’t you hate those people who, when you’re having a conversation, just show up out of nowhere and start commenting? That’s me. And it could be about anything from gardening to why the husband of the woman talking ran off to Brazil.
I just float in like Tinkerbell to save the day:
“You told us months ago that he’s been learning Portuguese. Come on Alyssa, the red flags were everywhere! You probably didn’t give him enough attention and oh yeah, ditto for your tomatoes. That’s why they’re not growing. It’s all related somehow.”
And I’m sure after I put in my two cents and finally leave the room, they look at each other and say: “I’ll bet she doesn’t even realize she’s doing it.” That’s where they’re wrong. I realize it. My problem isn’t ignorance, it’s arrogance. I just always think I have something vital to contribute to their otherwise humdrum conversation. I know more than they do. There are thousands of topics in this world I’m sure I know nothing about, from UN policy to opera, but that doesn’t stop me from playing “Jeopardy!” or from being an authority. As my ex-boyfriend used to say:
“Hi I’m Lori and I’m pretty sure I’m some sort of a genius.”
That’s not why we broke up. I mean, he had a point. I think this is a trait I inherited from my father. You’d be working on something: Putting a toy together, washing a dish… and he’d nudge you aside and say: “Better let me do it.”
And you’d think this would make me more compassionate and understanding toward others with the same affliction and yet it doesn’t. Quite the opposite. If I’m having a private discussion and a third party interjects, I’m incensed. How dare they interrupt? I get annoyed and obnoxious: “All who want your opinion raise their hand.”
But when I “intercede”, I’m a master at it. I don’t even have to do it in person. Often I butt in over the cubicle wall. You know when you’re sitting at work in those “sound-proof” “offices” with no door or ceiling? I eavesdrop. Everyone eavesdrops. The discreet, professional thing to do of course, is to pretend you don’t hear a thing and go on with your work.
I’m a busy woman. I have no time for either discretion nor professionalism. It works well in my work environment. My coworkers have chosen to embrace my true self as a buttinsky, yenta, and general annoyance. People have gotten so used to me listening-in uninvited that they’ll just use me as the wealth of information that I am. They know that Big Brother may be watching, but I’m always listening. There will be two women talking in a low voice two cubicles over: “Did they say that meeting is supposed to start at 9 or 10? I can’t remember what time they decided on…. Lori?”
See? I may be rude, indiscreet, and unprofessional, but I’m the company’s most vital resource. I seriously doubt if they could function without me.