I had an interesting conversation with a professor the other day. He asked me why I never took any of his classes before this semester, and one in particular, which is taught only by him and one other professor.
Uh, oh. Can you say, ďthink carefully before you answer?Ē
I almost had an answer out when he waved me quiet and told me to shut the door. M-kay??? He said, ďhereís what I know about you.Ē Pregnant pause. How do you respond to that?
He said, ďyouíre mature, you donít suffer fools lightly, and you hate having your time wasted.Ē
Pick jaw up off floor.
Okay, he probably figured that out from the daily logs Iíve been submitting about my most recent courthouse experience. I had written several times about the differences in the way people treat time between my old career and my new one. There are plentiful jokes running around the courthouse where Iíve spent the better part of my time since January, along the lines of ďjuvenile court time is not regular time. 9:00 a.m. regular time means Ďwhenever we get to ití in juvenile court time.Ē This is completely foreign to me in terms of my old career in graphics, where if you donít turn around work by yesterday, youíll lose your client. I have been very honest in my daily logs about having a difficult time reconciling those two attitudes. And although I have loved every minute of the time I have spent at that courthouse, having to live long term with that kind of cavalier attitude about time would probably drive me out of my mind. I think itís unprofessional and careless. And yes, foolish.
What does this have to do with taking his class? I had signed up for this class with the other professor, but she tends to be a bit scatterbrained. Her teaching style is all over the place and she can be disorganized. A person like me would find that very foolish and very much a waste of time. Indeed, I sat through one night of class and knew Iíd never last an entire semester with her. I dropped the class. I didnít pick it up with the current professor because frankly, I find him to be a little intimidating. Too late now.
But Iíve been thinking about his comments ever since.
ďYou donít suffer fools lightly, and you hate having your time wasted.Ē What does that mean and where does it come from?
Iím well aware that those two attitudes are going to shape how I approach my career and my interactions with clients, with other lawyers, and with anyone who works for me.
But I think there is no place else that is so affected by these attitudes than in my every day dealings with people in my community. You see, Iím an introvert. I dislike being out in public, ďpeople noiseĒ bothers me, I donít go to parties, and I avoid crowds like the plague.
Does anyone else hate grocery shopping? I get really impatient with other shoppers. They stand around and pay no attention to anything going on around them, and if you say "excuse me" to reach something they're standing in front of, they look at you like you're from outer space. Or they argue with cashiers about how much something costs. Or the cashiers themselves try to make small talk while you're checking out. I almost went on a rant today because the cashier, instead of ringing up my stuff, was talking to me about how happy she is that she woke up to sun instead of rain or snow. My knee-jerk response is always a blank stare, and I want to say "I don't care. Just ring me up and let me get out of here!" I am not a small-talker and I want to be left alone. I know it makes me come off as a crotchety old lady, and I don't like it, but I can't help it. I honestly don't give a hoot if the cashier woke up to sunshine today and I can't pretend that I do.
How about getting a haircut? All around me, I hear stylists making small talk with the customers in their chairs. Not me. Silence. Just cut my hair and Iíll pay you (including a generous tip if you do a good job) and leave. That is all.
What about in the car? I hate driving. I want to be Samantha from ďBewitchedĒ and twitch my nose and just be there. Sitting in a traffic jam drives me buggy. And incompetent drivers who donít pay attention, or who text and drive, or even talk and drive? They make me wish I had a plow on the front of my car. I could just scoop them up and deposit them on the side of the road, out of my way.
Even in my workouts I prefer silence. No music, no workout buddies, just me and the lane Iím swimming in, or the trail Iím riding or running on. The sounds of crickets or birds. Donít talk to me while Iím working out; itís a distraction and it wastes my time.
The locker room? PleaseÖ Iím naked here. I really donít want to be talked to. And please for heavenís sake, keep your little kids under control.
See a pattern here? The pattern I see is that if you try to interact with me, or even have a simple encounter with me out in public, if what you say or do doesnít make logical sense to me, Iím likely to think you are foolish and youíre wasting my time.
Is that fair? Probably not. Iím sure youíre a perfectly reasonable, nice, intelligent person. And I really should give you the benefit of the doubt.
But the introvert in me doesnít want to interact, and doesnít want you around me.
Believe it or not, I have friends. Not a ton of friends, but I have friends. But in retrospect, most of my friends are like me. Theyíre introverted. Or if theyíre extroverted, they at least understand that I am different and they respect it. They donít insist that I be social ďbecause itís good for me.Ē They donít worry about me being alone. They donít call me shy, because they know that Iím anything but shy. I just donít feel the need to share my opinion all the time. And I definitely donít want to waste my time with meaningless small talk with someone I donít know.
It is a well known fact that introverts thrive on quiet time. They recharge alone, while extroverts recharge by being social. An extrovert doesnít consider small talk with a cashier at the grocery store to be a waste of time. An extrovert chats up the stylist during a haircut. And an extrovert would never consider those people to be foolish.
Thereís nothing wrong with being either an introvert or an extrovert. Itís just a personal style that comes from the way a person is hard-wired. Whatever your style, donít apologize for it. Itís who you are.
Just donít waste my time.