“I’ve Missed Talking to You”

Normally, she’d have gone through the self-check line, but they were busy.  Her four items made their way down the conveyor belt in time for the clerk to say, “That’s all for you?  Looks like Italian tonight?  I’ve the best recipe for lasagna, of course it calls for spinach and my family would shoot me if I dared put anything green in a meal.  Do you know what I mean?  Like they think I’m trying to kill ’em or something.  Little do they know, spinach is one of the best things for ’em.  Do you like spinach?”

She smiled as she inserted her credit card in the chip reader.  She started to give an answer about spinach, but the clerk went on.  Luckily the boy bagging her groceries had already finished.  She said thanks, without having to jump into the spinach-in-lasagna debate.

 

She had two more files to close and then she’d be done for the day.  She opened a file just as a co-worker approached.  She wondered about keeping her head down and not making eye contact so as to avoid conversation.  If she acknowledged her co-worker, she’d be enveloped in drama and details from the previous weekend that had nothing to do with her.  But even keeping her head down wouldn’t protect her.  “Wow.  You must have a lot going on.  What’s that file about?”  What could have taken 20 minutes turned into 40.

 

Between the teller at the bank and the clerk at the post office, she learned about the lives of people that she would never meet.

She knew secrets about people who didn’t know her name.

She knows things about folks that they only learn during the process of talking to her.  She’s heard people say, “I guess I needed to tell someone that.”  “It feels good to unload.”  “I haven’t thought of that in years, I can’t believe I’m telling you this.”

If she had a dollar for every time someone said, “I’ve never told anyone that before,” she could afford to move to a deserted island.

 

A long time ago she realized that she was some sort of conduit for processing other people’s stuff.   It was not her job to fix anything.

She just listened.  She listened and let it pass through her.

Sometimes they felt a little better having been heard.  Often times, they felt embarrassed for having divulged so much that ought to be personal.  They’d laugh at themselves and apologize, and do the same thing the next time she saw them.

It was as if they couldn’t help themselves.

 

One evening found her at a social engagement that she hadn’t wanted to attend.  She’d tried coming up with an excuse.  She wanted to stay home, but The Voice said, “Come on.  You never go out.  It’ll be good for you.”

She went.  He talked.  A lot.  At the end of the night he said, “I’ve missed talking to you.”

She smiled.

What could she say?  “Thank you?”  “I missed listening to you?”  “I’m glad you like to talk to me?”

He drove away as she turned the key in her door.

She put her purse on the table and saw the cat waiting for her in their favorite chair – the one where they sat together in silence.

INFJ at the Office

Congratulations!  You got the job!

You were nervous about the interview, but you aced it because you’re good with one-on-one conversation.  The worst part of the process was waiting for the call that would tell you whether or not you were accepted for the position.  You made yourself sick with worry.  You even practiced how to answer the phone and how to talk without finishing their sentences.

When they called to offer the job, you tripped over yourself saying something like, “Oh, no!  I mean, that’s great!  I’m sorry.  Yes? No!  I’ll take it!”

The first day was nerve-wracking what with all the introductions, but now you are several weeks into it and you’re over the bumpy part of being the new person.

The coffee doesn’t suck.  The parking isn’t bad.  You can bring your lunch without feeling like a dork.  It’s not a bad place to spend the day.

But you are an INFJ, so there are issues.  This doesn’t surprise you because you are, well… an INFJ.

 

You care about your co-workers.  You remember birthdays.  You always ask how their weekend was.  You inquire of his mother’s recent surgery.  Your co-workers like you.  That’s a good thing, but that also makes it difficult to get your work done.  You are the first person they come to when they want to be heard.  They vent to you about each other, and they run new ideas by you.  All the while, management applauds your newbie efforts at teamwork, turning to you each time a new project needs coordinating.

And there you sit on your lunch hour doing all the work that you can’t get done because everyone comes to you with their stuff.

Plug along, INFJ.  You’ll find a way to be there for your co-workers and still get the work done.  It’ll take time, but you are organized.  Be patient with yourself and your co-workers’ needs to come to you. You won’t likely change this dynamic, so understand it and use it to your benefit.

 

Your integrity is unmatched in the workplace.  In the beginning, you’ll look up to your boss.  You’ll respect management.  After a few months, though, you’ll be reminded that everyone is motivated by different things.  (Remember this from those MBTI tests?)  You aren’t motivated by money.  Just about every one of your co-workers is motivated by money.  While they might tell you that customer service is their priority, you will learn that it is not.  You will feel the need to remind them that if they made customer service a priority, the money would follow.

They come to you to be heard, dear INFJ.  They do not want to be preached to.  They think your priorities are endearing, but they don’t begin to understand why you aren’t motivated by money.

Save your breath.  Keep working hard.  Be the quiet team-player that you are, even if that means that some days you’ll end up working through your lunch hour.  Remind yourself that we are all motivated differently and that it is possible to respect them, even if you don’t understand their priorities.

At the end of the day, you’ll be respected for doing your job well, and clients will seek you out because of your excellent customer service skills.

 

The Time-Out Chair

I attended elementary school in an old brick building that, many years later, turned into a church –  I think.  The church was named Saint Some-One-Or-Other, but I can’t remember which saint.  I think it’s now empty, but I’m not sure on that, either.  There was one class for each grade and it seems as though there were only about 20 kids in each grade.

Even though there were only 20 sixth-graders out on the playground, those opinionated kids could get in a ruckus in a real hurry.

That’s what social media is reminding me of – sixth graders blowing off stink, on a playground.

Everyone is yelling.

He yells over them.  She yells over him.  They yell over each other.

No one is listening.

Everyone conveniently forgot the tenet about not speaking if you don’t have anything nice to say.

They’ve forgotten tolerance, and more importantly, they’ve forgotten kindness.

 

I never put my kids in a time-out.  I don’t know why I never liked that form of discipline.  Is the idea that the kid is supposed to sit in a chair, face the corner, and think about how to behave better?  I guess because I’m a natural born over-thinker, I never thought the time-out chair was a good idea.

If – when I was a sixth grader – I’d ever been ordered to a time-out chair, I’m afraid of what I’d have over-thought about.  Back then the subjects could have run the gamut from:  Why do some sixth grade girls have big chests while others haven’t even started their periods?  Why do almost all girls have crushes on sixth grade boys who are so clueless?  Is world domination out of the question or a distinct possibility?  Do I want to even mess with dominating a world inhabited by sixth grade boys?

(I’ve a vague recollection of being sent to my room, which is pretty much the same thing, but for an introvert, that’s like a snow day off from school!)

I knew, when my two were very young, that they had acquired my high-level over-thinking skills.  I wasn’t going to give them an opportunity to over/out think me, so the only time-out chair we ever had was a cute little wooden thing we painted for a school fundraiser.  We ended up buying it to put in the garden.  (Imagine crickets, potato beetles and earthworms assigned to that chair for their time-outs.)

 

Now, however, a time-out chair would be heavenly.  I’m not sure I’d even want the internet in my corner.  I’d have a delicious chunk of time to happily ruminate on the usual subjects – cabernet vs. pinot vs. merlot; techniques for texturing the ceiling after popcorn removal; how to reclaim a neglected garden spot; do I really need AWD when front wheel is less expensive; why is it taking me so long to read the Harry Potter series when I’m enjoying it so much (see aforementioned time-sucking subjects); and what will I do with myself when kids are grown and gone?

I’m not pretending that any of these subjects are even remotely interesting to anyone else, but they aren’t unkind or intolerant or likely to raise my blood pressure.  (That said, the popcorn ceiling removal was a pretty good workout.)

 

Anyhow, the ruckus on both social media and the airwaves has me fantasizing that if I were Queen for a Day, I’d assign everyone to their own time-out chair – especially the sixth graders.

 

 

An INFJ Goes for a Walk

There’s a guy at the office who calls me Smiley.

While my default expression at home is probably more like a resting tired face*, my public face is usually smiling.

I once walked around the mezzanine of a Texas dance hall.  The space was filled with vendors selling concho belts, cowboy hats, turquoise jewelry and beer in white plastic cups.  I had never been to Texas before, and while I’m not afraid of dancing, I wanted to see what else went on in the dance hall.  As I walked the loop, I greeted vendors and watched the dancers down below.  On my second pass, a vendor said, “You’re the only person in this place with a smile on her face.”

I learned a long time ago that a quick smile makes interactions more pleasant.  It wasn’t until today that I realized that it’s that smile that attracts folks to me.  All along I thought I had a magnet in my back pocket.

 

I’ve written about how the kids brace themselves before we get to the checkout line at the store because I will be paying for groceries and hear the clerk’s life story.

I can’t mail a package without learning about the postal employee’s 20 year battle with arthritis, even though I don’t have arthritis, know nothing about arthritis, and simply said, “How are you today?”

 

I left the house this morning to walk the hill at the park.  Jen insisted I take the bear spray.  We don’t live in a scary neighborhood (the bears are usually about 60 miles north and west of here), and I hate packing anything when I walk, but for her sake, I took the spray.

On my descent, I saw a fellow sipping coffee from a thermos cup.  He was the only person in the parking lot.  He turned as I approached.  I smiled and said, “Good morning.”

Does that sound flirtatious to you?

 

He talked.  I smiled and listened.

I am an INFJ.

I don’t flirt.  I don’t know how to flirt.  Watching others flirt upsets my stomach.

 

He talked of when he lived in Montana, why he is here now, his passion for studying Big Foot, his love of ceramics, the chaos over Muslims in the Middle East, Folf, his Roman Catholic upbringing, has anti-war stance and what it’s like to be a senior person on a college campus.

He didn’t have any teeth, and he wore a pony tail that looked like a failed attempt at a man bun.

I’m not judging.  I’m fleshing out the character in this story.

(Okay, I might be judging a little.  I am an INFJ.)

Some of the conversation was interesting, but I’ll admit to trying to get a word in to excuse myself.

Finally! His grandson came down from throwing a frisbee and said, “Pops! It’s time to go!”

I said, “Yeah, nice visiting with you, I have to get back to my kids.”

He stuck out his hand and said, “What’s your name?  Are you single?”  His grip tightened, not in a scary way, but I did grab his wrist with my left hand to release my right hand from his.  I waved and said, “See ya!” as I walked off.  He said, “You’re cute!  If you ever get bored …”

I walked home fast.  I wasn’t so much smiling as laughing.

I walked in the door and Jen asked, “How was your walk?”  I told Jen that I was glad she’d insisted I take the bear spray.  When I explained, she said she was glad I’d taken the spray, too.  She wasn’t at all surprised, because she knows what I attract.

 

As I sit here typing this post, I’m smiling.  I’m smiling at the Universe for continually putting these types in my path.  I never really understood why before.  I didn’t know what I was doing to bring this into my world.

Now I know it’s my smile.  It’s my smile and my ability to listen, and there are so many people out there who just want to be heard.

 

 

*Why must they refer to that as a Resting Bitch Face?

 

 

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