There’s no mistaking it when Awkward is in the room. Take this work retreat where employees were asked how they felt about their jobs, followed by a request that they express their feelings in movement, in physical terms. En masse, the group converged in a corner to signify that they felt threatened, with a few jazz hands to denote fear.
At this moment, I wanted to raise my hand and say, “I’m contract, so I’m not a real employee. This is silly, counter-productive and is making me feel uncomfortable. I’d like to leave.” My suggestion should this ever happen to you is to simply flee the scene. This is really your best option. Crawl out the door if you have to. No one will notice if you do it quietly.
Speaking of quietly, if you plan to initiate a conversation with a Librarian, you better use your whisper voice, and don’t waste the Librarian’s time. They are in quite demand with all those budget cuts, you know. If you ask a question, make sure it’s a question with an answer. Notice the books on the shelves? No excuses for slacking on the research. Don’t ask a question about where the bathroom is. Figure it out. And, no. You can’t have a normal conversation in the library, because it’s the library! Don’t even try. I’m just trying to help here.
Let’s not bother having a normal conversation with the OB/GYN either. Why do we even try for normal on this one? Why can’t they provide ear buds with some soothing music at the door? I suppose you could bring your own, or could you? Anything but talk.
Take my doctor, for example. We talk about these things during my wellness exam in the following order: employment, books, kids, and finally, his vacation, all the while with him, mentioning the play-by-play guide to the procedure, and me, secretly pretending I am an alien experiment.
I am then reminded that he was on vacation and unavailable when I needed him most, like when I needed him to DELIVER MY BABY! His eyes searching mine, I know he’s wondering whether or not he delivered my children. He doesn’t remember. I want to tell him, “No, you did not deliver my children. You were having a grand adventure in the mountains.” Oh, I’m really over it…actually never counted on it.
While that is a mandatory, medical procedure, an appointment with your Esthetician is not. Why women choose to do the waxing, Brazilian, etc. Well, let’s just leave that aside for now. This is creme of the crop. This is Awkward in high fashion, both glaring and ridiculous. Where the OB may have a checklist of questions, anything goes in this appointment. I suppose because my Esthetician, who shall be named Glenna, is so generous with her advice, she feels the least I can do is listen to her while I lay there pretending to be invisible. I share with you now a typical scenario.
Glenna: My roommate’s boyfriend is such an asshole. She’s tried to break up with him. Get this. Now money is missing from our apartment. I know he stole it.
Me: Oh, horrible.
(The wax is hot and she’s smoothing it down. Rip. Rip. Yep, Forcible removal from the roots. Uh, ouch.)
Glenna: The cops won’t even come over.
(More wax applied.)
Me: Why not? Isn’t that their job? Rip.
Glenna: I know. Rip. And now, guess what? Rip. The boyfriend is stalking me.
Do I dare ask why this is happening with the boyfriend? No. Rip. Ooh…shudder.
Glenna: Oh. Are you okay?
Me: Just wasn’t ready for that one. Um…no, I’m good. Okay…okay.
Glenna: Did you need a tissue?
Me: No. I’m fine, fine.
I lay back down.
Glenna: And now we have rats.
Me: Ooohh, no. Awful.
We’re talking about rats now?
Glenna: Big suckers. So big, the traps won’t even kill them. You see pieces…
Rip. Ow, holy mother of …son of bitch…
Glenna: …pieces of the fur on the traps, but no rats…
Then, I proceed to tell her my story about rats, because don’t we all have a story about rats? The real question here is not why are we talking about rats, but why wouldn’t we be talking about rats.
In these moments, we cling to our humanity, we persevere, we get through it, however we can. We laugh, we shrug, we cower, hide, hug, rise above, or go to our happy place, and in the end, we survive.