Monday, August 24, 2009


I hate chit chat.

Yes, it’s a polite way to exchange pleasantries with people as you go through your day, but I typically regard it as a time wasting engagement that distracts me from more pressing tasks. I struggle with chit chat at work but am well aware it’s a necessity in developing relationships and fostering good feelings among my co-workers.

Chit chat with someone today, and they just may be willing to help you in a pinch tomorrow.

I appreciate chit chat and its role in office politics. I detest making small talk with strangers.

And neighbors.

My apartment building is a random collection of people. Families. Immigrants. Middle aged married couples. 40-something bachelors. College kids. Mentally disabled people. Me.

For a long time, I was the only real “single chick” in the building. While the rent is dirt cheap and the layout quaint, my apartment doesn't have many of the amenities most professional single women seek out when renting a place to call home.

No dishwasher. No washer/dryer hook ups. No disposal. Wall to wall carpet. The affordable rent makes up for the building’s short comings.

The price tag also has a way of luring people with less means.

The unit above mine recently became occupied by a young woman who expects to give birth any day. About 24 or 25, she is young and rough around the edges. She is missing one front tooth, and the other is chipped in half. Her boyfriend appears to be in his mid 30s. She tells me he has some children who will be staying in the apartment from time to time.

Oh, joy.

Friday evening I was sitting on my stoop, waiting for a friend who was picking me up for the night’s festivities. As I sat there and watched the world go by, my new neighbor and her boyfriend pulled up, fresh from a trip to the grocery.

The young girl wore low slung, orange terry cloth shorts and a shorter t-shirt that failed to cover her massive, protruding stomach. Toting on her arm a plastic grocery bag full of Ho Hos and corn chips, she carried a giant UDF milkshake in one hand and a lit cigarette in another. Unable to temporarily press Pause on my passing judgment, I smiled and did my best to mask my disgust.

I felt compelled to chit chat.

Heaven knows why I wanted to share a moment with this girl. Maybe it’s because I pity her. Maybe it’s because I know she’s in for a tough road ahead. Maybe it’s because I regard her as ignorant and a product of circumstance.

Maybe it’s because I realize I have no reason to harbor any feelings of any kind for her.

Her situation, however, brings out the dichotomy of my internal monologue.

Part of me is angry and frustrated that so many loving, successful people struggle to have a family of their own. Married, single, gay and straight – the world is full of people who would make great parents but for a variety of circumstances fail to receive the blessing of a beautiful child to call their own.

The other half of me is mystified that the universe allows so many unqualified people to take on a parenting role. Occasionally I’m struck by a Mother Teresa/Florence Nightingale desire to collect the downtrodden of the world, hold them tight, make their cares go away and give them the tools they need to be self sufficient and worthy contributors to society.

I am fully aware that to help someone requires an investment of time and an open heart, something that I have, but not without internal struggle. Most importantly, the act of reaching out to another relies on more than passing chit chat. It demands a conversation.

I know that’s something I need to work on.

Like I said, chit chat with someone today, and they just may be willing to help you in a pinch tomorrow.

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Kate's Random Musings by Kate the Great is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.


5chw4r7z said...

rainielu and crg1g were discussing this, reminded me of your post kind of, well of people having trouble adopting.

5chw4r7z said...

well off even

Ed said...

Conversation, procreation. Strange, I divorced a woman who couldn't conceive and to whom I had nothing to say (the latter being the reason we split), only to hook up with a woman who is the Tiger Woods of fertility and who will not stop talking. I think you've touched on something.