Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur



Filed under: The Confessional — Laura Moncur @ 9:15 am

There are a slim number of people who don’t talk to me. They seem to be immune to my superpower. When a ride of more than five floors on an elevator is enough to hear the life story of a normal mortal, these people seem superhuman to me. I can know them for only a minute in the checkout line and recognize their immunity. What is worse is when I know them for years and they are still closed to me. Worse still, I have no stories about them.

Silence propagates itself, and the longer talk has been suspended, the more difficult it is to find anything to say. Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784)

A typical story sounds like this: There was a woman that I worked with for three years at UBTL. She worked in the Histology department. They even put me in Histology temporarily when another girl went on vacation and I never got to know this woman. We played tennis together once and I learned no more than the fact that she had an antique typewriter stored in her closet and was wondering if she should sell it or give it away. It took me three years to learn that she had a typewriter in her closet that she never used and was unsure of how to dispose of it in an honorable manner. Three years?

There was a guy who worked in the sporting goods department at K-Mart when I worked there as a teen. He was a year younger than I was and he went to a different high school than I did. Even though he lived nearby (within skateboarding distance of my house), he went to Granger while I went to Kearns High. That’s all I can tell you about him. We had hours of lunches and breaks together in the few years that the two of us worked at that store, yet I couldn’t tell you one thing about him. He was must have been smart because he went from porter to the sporting goods department in a manner of a couple of months. That I learned just from observation. Anything else about his private life was a mystery to me. Years together and I learned nothing about him, when five minutes is usually enough to learn an entire life from a normal human.

I have often regretted my speech, never my silence. Publilius Syrus (~100 BC), Maxims

Don’t tell me that these people are shy. The shy flock to me. I know shy. I married shy. I am friends with the shy and the outgoing alike. Shy people love to tell me their stories while their family members look on in amazement. Shy people confess things to me that their clergy would be surprised to hear. These people are not shy. Well, that’s a lie. These people are shy, but that isn’t their power of immunity. These people are so guarded that not even I can learn about them. That isn’t shy. That isn’t even uber-shy. That is another animal altogether.

I don’t believe these people fear me. It’s not like they are wary of the information that they will give me because I will hurt them with it. It’s not like they don’t trust me. It’s almost like they have no need to share. It is so rare when another human being is willing to listen to us that when most people find me, they want to talk until they are empty. It is only time constraints that stop them: the elevator opens, the lady behind the counter asks them to pay or their turn for a bathroom stall arrives. No, these people who don’t talk to me don’t fear me. They just don’t need to tell me their stories.

And what a shame that is because I would like to know their stories. Where are you, Sporting Goods Guy? Did you follow the typical path of a Utah Mormon boy? College, Mission, Marriage, More College, Job, Family, Bishopric? Maybe you were too smart and your dark night of the soul got the best of you. Maybe your path was College, Mission, More College, Loss of Faith, Grief and Separation from The Church? Are you grieving your life? Are you celebrating it? Where are you?

And what about you, Histology Nun? Were you ever married? If you were, what happened? If you weren’t, what about the one that got away? You worked at a dying biomedical testing laboratory. When they went under, where did you go? What is your story now? Did you go to a hospital? Did you go to the University of Utah? Did BYU hire you? Where are you and what is your life looking like now?

Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better. Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time. Thomas Carlyle (1795 – 1881)

These people are like the dragonflies to me. I don’t know where they came from and I don’t know where they went. They were in my life for a brief moment and they didn’t deliver the message from the gods that they were supposed to give me. They didn’t tell me which of my habits were healthy and which were damaging. They flew and danced so quickly that I could barely see them when they were here. They remained silent when the world was screaming its stories to me.


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