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Old 05-28-2018, 06:49 PM   #1
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Rant of a Reader

Maybe it's just me, but this has been bothering me for some time. It goes like this. You're reading a book, feeling good, lost in the story, and at your absolute happiest someone decides to engage you in conversation. Now this wouldn't be too bad, but it only happens when you're reading. If you're, say, staring at a wall or the tv you're good. No one even knows you're alive. But pick up a book, and suddenly they need to know what's going on with you. Or even worse they ask what you're reading.

I fear the "what you readin?" question. I don't mind it if it comes from someone who actually reads for pleasure. But when it comes from a person whom I know hasn't read a book since they were forced to do so in high school I cringe on my insides. I feel that they don't really want to know, but rather they just do it to relieve some internal boredom within themselves.

But here is the worst moment I've had when reading. I use an ereader, having given up dead tree books for ten years now, and I will be in a room full of coworkers with a lull in work. Each one of them will be goofing on their phones with candy crush, snap chats, and Facebook. Perfect opportunity, I think. I pull out my reader, and start in on my book. Within two paragraphs I'll take a teasing reprimand from a supervisor for wasting time on my book. Said sup will see the others knocking out candy crush levels and whatnot, even joke on how hard some level was, but still speak with me about the book.

I experimented with this by doing the smartphone goofing. Results: not a word. Some will say "read your books on your phone, then". But I can't. I've got a Pocketbook 740 Inkpad 3, best reader I've ever owned, and to read on it is almost like reading on a hardcover book. Just amazing.

Anyway, I'm just shouting out into the void, because to do so at work would probably be frowned upon. If I'm not the only one who has experienced these sorts of reading related problems then I'll leave this post with this quote:

"Misery loves company!"
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Old 05-28-2018, 09:37 PM   #2
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Yes, it happens quite a bit to me too. I'm retired now so I don't get it as much as before, but you reminded me of what should have been a very pleasant trip to Disney World one year when my daughter and I went ahead earlier. For some reason we got bumped up to First Class through some airline screwup, but our seats weren't together. Not a problem since I intended to read for the next 2 hours, and my daughter wasn't really the chatty cathy type anyway.

And I of course ended up sitting next to a guy who had to talk the entire 2 hours. About his personal life no less. I was reading before we took off, tried to just give him curt nods and really brief grunts as answers, but after 20 minutes of him not getting the hint, I finally just put my book away. If he interrupted me one more time I think I was going to punch him.

How about a nice pair of headphones so they think you're also listening to music and you can't hear them? Or at least pretend you can't hear them.

Oh, when we got to the hotel, another screwup happened, they didn't have any non-smoking rooms left, so we got a huge room upgrade for free too. It would have been a great trip... except for the plane ride.
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Old 05-28-2018, 10:40 PM   #3
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How about a nice pair of headphones so they think you're also listening to music and you can't hear them? Or at least pretend you can't hear them.
That's a great idea. Wearing headphones is understood to mean "Do Not Disturb." Good way to avoid annoying people and block out noise.
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Old 05-29-2018, 12:09 AM   #4
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I have a big set of over the ear headphones that look like they won't allow me to hear anything...but they are an open style and I can hear quite well. It just keeps me from being disturbed when I need to focus.
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Old 05-29-2018, 08:32 AM   #5
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I have no expectation of privacy in public places. When I don't want people to talk to me, I stay away from public places where people will be. I find the notion that people should want to hang out "do not interact with me flags" in public venues to be a bit ... odd. *shrug*

Don't misunderstand me: I'm not suggesting people shouldn't read in public places. Nothing of the sort. I read everywhere I go, myself (when I actually go anywhere). I'm just not sure it's reasonable to expect the public to honor your "pay no attention to this person behind the book" flag. There is no universally accepted "don't speak to this interesting-looking person in your vicinity" code. There never was.
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:08 AM   #6
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Don't misunderstand me: I'm not suggesting people shouldn't read in public places. Nothing of the sort. I read everywhere I go, myself (when I actually go anywhere). I'm just not sure it's reasonable to expect the public to honor your "pay no attention to this person behind the book" flag. There is no universally accepted "don't speak to this interesting-looking person in your vicinity" code. There never was.
Both headphones in and declining attempts at eye contact are as close as we can get in our current society, short of hanging a LEAVE ME ALONE sign around our necks. What more can we possibly do to get the message across?

Have you had the experience of being part of a societal group that is routinely harrassed in public? I do believe there are some pretty clear flags in my society that when a person has both headphones in and ignores a person's first attempt at social contact, that that means " leave me alone". Is this universal through all of time and space? I don't know. But people brought up here who persist in attempting to make pointless social contact* in that situation deserve my ill opinion of them.

It used to be sexual harrassment. These days, for me, I not uncommonly have people interrupt my day, tap my on the bloody shoulder, occasionally stand in front of me stopping me from moving, and insist that I remove my headphones just so they can ask me "Do you have a licence for that thing?" (my powerchair), then expect me to laugh at their hilarious original joke.

If you didn't know that it is a bad idea to do this to people you don't know? No matter how interesting you think they look or how scintilliating you believe your company to be? Well, now you do.

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When I don't want people to talk to me, I stay away from public places where people will be.
Well, the shopping isn't going to do itself. Nor are the myriad of other things that have to get done in a week.

---
*Obviously, there are exceptions for things like "This building is on fire" or "you dropped your wallet".

Last edited by meeera; 05-29-2018 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 05-29-2018, 11:22 AM   #7
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Both headphones in and declining attempts at eye contact are as close as we can get in our current society, short of hanging a LEAVE ME ALONE sign around our necks. What more can we possibly do to get the message across?
Perhaps I wasn't being clear. I don't think you SHOULD be trying to get the message across. Because I don't think people are entitled to move through public venues in entirely cloistered cones of "don't look at me or interact me in any way" privacy.

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But people brought up here who persist in attempting to make pointless social contact* in that situation deserve my ill opinion of them.
Perhaps that's the difference between us. I don't really see any kind of (friendly-intended) social contact as "pointless." If I can help someone have nicer day by listening to them talk, I don't see the harm in taking a few minutes to listen. Even if I'm "busy."

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If you didn't know that it is a bad idea to do this to people you don't know? No matter how interesting you think they look or how scintilliating you believe your company to be? Well, now you do.
No. I still don't know that. I only know that it would be a bad idea to attempt civil but random discourse with you. I've met enough people to know that there are plenty who don't mind "pointless social interaction." As to how "scintillating" my own company might be: I have no opinion on that. It's not something that crosses my mind.


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Well, the shopping isn't going to do itself. Nor are the myriad of other things that have to get done in a week.
Since I'm assuming you don't read with headphones on while shopping, I fail to see the relevance. Seeing someone is busy is far easier to determine than seeing that someone is ready to bite your head off for even daring to engage.

Last edited by DiapDealer; 05-29-2018 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 05-29-2018, 11:39 AM   #8
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These days, for me, I not uncommonly have people interrupt my day, tap my on the bloody shoulder, occasionally stand in front of me stopping me from moving, and insist that I remove my headphones just so they can ask me "Do you have a licence for that thing?" (my powerchair), then expect me to laugh at their hilarious original joke.
Well, touching someone you don't know is not a great idea. But I see this type of thing as someone trying to be nice. When did we start getting so angry at someone trying to make conversation with us? A simple chuckle or smile at this wouldn't cost anything.

People are mean and rude all the time...how did someone trying to be nice get turned into a bad thing?

I will admit to using the headphone thing on a regular basis in one situation...getting my hair done. The salon I go to is LOUD all the time. Loud music, dryers, lots of people. I have a neurological issue that makes me very sensitive to loud situations. I can't tune anything out, I've got no filters. It's almost like a panic attack thing. So I use a White Noise app on my phone and use earbuds during the 35 minutes I have to sit with haircolor on.

It's not that I am avoiding conversation, but that I'm trying to keep myself from feeling overwhelmed by all the noise.

When I'm shopping, or out in public, I'd rather try to pay attention to what is going on around me. For safety sake, and because civility seems to be dying, and I don't want to be one of those people who ignore others as their normal behavior.
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Old 05-29-2018, 12:44 PM   #9
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Yes, it happens quite a bit to me too. I'm retired now so I don't get it as much as before, but you reminded me of what should have been a very pleasant trip to Disney World one year when my daughter and I went ahead earlier. For some reason we got bumped up to First Class through some airline screwup, but our seats weren't together. Not a problem since I intended to read for the next 2 hours, and my daughter wasn't really the chatty cathy type anyway.

And I of course ended up sitting next to a guy who had to talk the entire 2 hours. About his personal life no less. I was reading before we took off, tried to just give him curt nods and really brief grunts as answers, but after 20 minutes of him not getting the hint, I finally just put my book away. If he interrupted me one more time I think I was going to punch him.
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Perhaps I wasn't being clear. I don't think you SHOULD be trying to get the message across. Because I don't think people are entitled to move through public venues in entirely cloistered cones of "don't look at me or interact me in any way" privacy.
Maybe Diapdealer was the person sitting next to Ripplinger on the plane
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Old 05-29-2018, 12:55 PM   #10
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I will occasionally start up a conversation with a person next to me in line at the post office, grocery store, etc., but if they are obviously not interested in continuing the conversation I will leave them alone. I see no point in annoying someone who is perhaps already having a bad day and just trying to get their errands done.

I rarely travel so the plane isn't a likely situation for me, but If I were seated next to someone on a plane who was obviously reading I wouldn't try to converse with them beyond perhaps a brief greeting.

I certainly wouldn't get in the way of a person in a wheelchair and prevent them from moving just so I could make a stupid joke.
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Old 05-29-2018, 01:37 PM   #11
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Touching strangers is always a bad idea (unless pulling them out from in front of the bus they just put themselves in the path of), but I see nothing wrong with attempting conversation. Perhaps if people were more clear about their lack of desire to engage? Nodding politely and putting your nose back in your book may feel to you (rhetorical you) like you've unambiguously announced your intentions to be left alone, but that's not the always the case. Especially in the case of non-readers--who probably have no idea they've interrupted a devout reader who was prostrating themselves at the altar of Reading.

So instead of silently raging about the audaciousness of a stranger who chose that moment to interrupt your private time; or grunting/nodding in pseudo-response to something they said (all the while hoping said grunt gets taken in the actual spirit of "leave me the hell alone" that your mind's ear so clearly heard you say it in), why not simply say, "I'm not interested in conversation right now. I'm trying to read this book." ? Or something similarly unambiguous? Why hint with body-language not everyone is fluent in?
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Old 05-29-2018, 03:11 PM   #12
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Well, touching someone you don't know is not a great idea. But I see this type of thing as someone trying to be nice. When did we start getting so angry at someone trying to make conversation with us? A simple chuckle or smile at this wouldn't cost anything.
One of my sister's pet peeves was going out in public when she was very obviously pregnant and having strangers feel entitled to touch her without asking. "Sure, lady, just give my baby bump a good rub, it'll save me a trip to a massage therapist."
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Old 05-29-2018, 04:11 PM   #13
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I'm not suggesting being rude or even ignoring people when they talk to you. I always respond to everyone, and politely (maybe that's my problem, I'm too polite and too nice) and as long as it takes.

But I'm with Meeera. If someone's nose is buried in a book when you start talking to them and they immediately go back to the book after responding, whether it's a short conversation back, laugh at the joke, whatever polite response they give you, do you seriously take that as an invitation to keep talking their ear off for hours?

Mind you, I'm not talking about the short quick conversations that do happen when standing in line or passing people in the street or out for walks. I'm talking about the total strangers who start talking to you like you're their long lost relative and keep talking for hours nonstop when you're clearly engaged in something else. Yes, reading qualifies as that something else.

I'm not a big talker anyway, but that behavior to me is just extremely bizarre. And annoying.
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Old 05-29-2018, 04:35 PM   #14
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For the OP, I'd recommend just putting an ebook on your phone and making do with the situation. The fact that you can read during downtime at work is tremendous. That's not allowed in many jobs where there is downtime. You just have to sit there and/or do make-work and "look busy". It sucks, I know. Been there, done that.
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Old 05-29-2018, 05:49 PM   #15
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But I'm with Meeera. If someone's nose is buried in a book when you start talking to them and they immediately go back to the book after responding, whether it's a short conversation back, laugh at the joke, whatever polite response they give you, do you seriously take that as an invitation to keep talking their ear off for hours?
I wouldn't, no. But then I'm a reader. I get it. But non-readers don't. They don't know how you feel about reading. They don't understand that you're not just reading to kill time. All they see is that you responded to them in some small way. Maybe they figure readers are capable of doing two things at once--heck I don't know. All I know is they're usually not trying to be annoying. So they deserve one of two things: our attention, or our polite but firm (and unambiguous) explanation why they can't have our attention.

Surely them being a little miffed at your no-nonsense request for peace (and being quiet for the two hours) is better than trying to teach them your non-verbal communication techniques for two hours and not getting to read your book?

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