Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Time Burglars

I've always been told that I'm quite easy to talk to, that I make people feel comfortable and not judged.  That I'm a good listener.  I may not be able to keep my own secrets, but I'm usually walking around with a host of other people's skeletons locked safely inside, never to be revealed.  Don't get me wrong, I can TALK, but when it comes time to shut up and take the downpour from someone's day, I'm usually a good call.  I like this about myself most days, because I know how important it is to me to be able to dump out the details of certain experiences, be they wonderful or frustrating, to someone with a compassionate ear.  If we're friends, I will listen to you cry yourself out, and I will be there to offer advice or keep quiet and give you a hug, whichever is needed.  Loyalty means something to me when it comes to those I love.  When it's a good friend, it's never a case of burgled time.

But as with all things, there is more than one side.  Every blessing seems to carry also a curse, and this is one of mine.  It's been happening lately, that as I'm walking out the door, often having perfectly portioned my time to get to wherever I'm going just when I want to, I am caught.  A polite hello snakes its way around my upper arm, clamps on, and I am stuck, listening while trying to appear engaged.  Smiling while inside, I'm squirming to free myself from this unending, one-sided conversation.  I feel like this makes me sound awful, but there are days when I just need to go, and suddenly all patience to indulge other people's problems, their gripes and their opinions about - whatever it is - has stepped out the door ahead of me and is waiting outside, tapping its fidgety foot.  I can hear it tapping its foot, and all I want is to scream out, "Stop burgling my time!" and run away.  Obviously it depends on the person and the situation, but like I said, lately there have been more time burglars snagging me like an unsuspecting trout.

How do I politely interrupt something obviously important to the person talking and go on my way?  I don't know how to do that.  What I do instead is stand there for as long as I can handle not looking at the clock, then when the chance arrives, take a quick glimpse and then freak out that I've just lost 20minutes and will now be late, rudely interrupting with an apology and bolting.  Not so polite when I let it go that far, I know.  How do you tell a person with whom you work or see daily in other places, that you just can't listen anymore? Sometimes when I'm screaming inside my head with boredom or the need to flee, I wonder if this is some sort of punishment for me, because I've been known to hold a person or two hostage in conversation they clearly want to be free of.  It's not something I realize at the time, but once it registers, (and the hostage has successfully fled) I feel quite embarrassed.  Are these people serving me up a dose of deserved Karmic time burglarization?  Perhaps.

But it still frustrates me, and suddenly I understand why some people keep their heads down and avoid real conversation in certain places, like the halls after work or post-workout in the gym locker room.  I need to take a note from them, while working on my own tendency to ramble on, and on, and on.  This, sadly, may never change, as I come from a family of talkers who leave out nary a detail, whether conversation revolves around last night's dinner or an up-coming trip.  Either way, I believe I'm going to start being less friendly and accommodating when it's time to go.  Call me selfish, just don't call me a time burglar!  (And I'll do my best not to deserve the name.)


  1. I had that "problem" as a veterinarian too. It always amazes me how male doctors can get you in and out of a room without ever having truly listened to you. Me, I listened. But yeah - it's hard, whether you are on the clock or not!

  2. Re-reading this post makes me giggle thinking of our conversation about this when you wrote it. We are so the same.... and you are not rude!