Practicing the Social Skills

My unemployment status means lots more time at home with only the cats and M. to talk with. And those cats, let me tell you, they have worse social skills than I! I don’t mind time on my own, in fact, I value time by myself. But yesterday it became apparent that I actually miss the daily social interactions that having a job brings.

I struck out early yesterday, or as early as I could anyway, to get my family’s Christmas presents shipped off to North Dakota. The UPS store opened at 8 am, and I had plans to avoid the big lines of other people doing last minute shipping. I was there right at 8 and no one else was. I guess those fabled horror lines apply to the post office, but not to the UPS store. I lugged my box up to the door where, fortunately, a clerk was vacuuming and could open the door for me. I thanked her profusely and scurried over to the counter so I could put the 30 pound, oddly shaped box down.

The clerk at the counter was an older man and he chatted with me about why I chose UPS: because they were cheaper than the post office and FedEx and my grandfather does a lot of UPS business in North Dakota, I told him. He then noticed that my package was being shipped to North Dakota and asked about my family and what they did there. I found myself oddly at ease with the UPS clerk and we chatted about the vast open spaces in North Dakota (he had been through the state on a backpacking trip to Montana), we talked about the weather and the weatherman’s miscalculation on the ice storm predictions for Monday (which prevented me from going into town and shipping the box the previous day). I didn’t think anything of my out-of-character social interaction as I left the UPS store, but I was in a good mood.

Later that same morning, I was paying for my items at the pet superstore and asked the cashier about the differences in the two cat calming diffusers they sold. (Normally, I would not ask, I would make a decision on my own whether to go with the more expensive brand I had researched, or the cheaper brand that appeared to be the same thing.) After I had finished my transaction, I found myself spontaneously striking up a conversation with the cashier about Clover and how he is so scared of everything, that we had decided to adopt a 2 year old this time around because kittens are so destructive, how Luigi had scarred our walls when he was a kitten. This time when I left the store, I realized how socially deprived I must have been over the past few weeks to have had these social interactions with perfect strangers. This was totally out of my comfort zone, yet I did it with ease!

Yesterday evening, RR caught me online and we chatted for a bit. She is having a hard time with the unemployment process (not unlike my frustrating experience). I eventually told her about my spontaneous social interchanges while out and about. She found it amusing, more so because she pictured the scene with annoyed people behind me while I tried out my inept skills. Alas, there was no one else at the UPS store and no one behind me at the pet superstore. The once again false icy road predictions were apparently keeping people at home. I shutter to think what this will mean for shopping later in the week when people are finally not scared of the weather and realize their Christmas shopping is not complete. I will not be venturing out until after Christmas unless unavoidably necessary.

This afternoon I am plunging myself into another social environment: a book discussion at the library. I’ve never been to one, so my interest is peaked, especially since I like to read so much. The book being discussed is Jane Green’s The Beach House. While this book was not something I typically would pick up to read, I knew I was going to try out the discussion group and finished it late last week. It was pretty good. I will be writing more on my group experience on my Book Bag page this afternoon or tomorrow.

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