My husband is a people person. He has never met a waitress he doesn’t like. Our life is a series of encounters that he classifies as electrifying, and which I KNOW are excruciating to everyone else. As a service to all of you out there who just love people the way Charlie does, here are some guidelines:

The guy at the Jiffy Lube has his own problems. Don’t burden him with your litany of car issues. He can change your oil, check your tires, and evaluate your air filter. But the facts that you regret that you didn’t buy a hybrid and that you are having trouble figuring out your new GARMIN do not endear you to the guy. And don’t ask him about his family!

When you are at the doctor, stick to the issues. Somehow, my husband knows our doctor’s middle name. To me, that indicates a level of intimacy that I just don’t aspire to. I call my doctor “Dr.” My husband calls his “Patty Ann.” I have no IDEA what my doctor thinks about anything other than acid reflux. Charlie reports that his internist has shingles. I am not sure how these doctors feel about being interviewed by my husband, but I would guess that any day my husband visits his doctors is a day in which those doctors run LATE afterwards.

Cocktail parties are for SMALL talk. No one expects to find a new soul mate at the pre- dinner mixer for the annual “Friends of the Historical Society” fundraiser. When introduced to a stranger, that person expects to comment on the weather, sigh about how much the world will miss Michael Jackson, or describe briefly what he or she does for a living. Folks at cocktails DO NOT want to learn about your life. The fact that I tried on fifteen outfits before picking one to wear tonight IS NOT INTERESTING TO STRANGERS.

Checkout clerks just want to take your money and move on. Checkers have monotonous jobs, it’s true. I am going out on a limb here, but I would bet money that the clerk at the grocery COULD CARE LESS that you think the new Strawberry Chex is delicious. Buying cat litter does not entitle you to go on and on about Fluffy’s latest antics. And for heaven’s sakes, those bag boys are not environmentally conscious, necessarily—so don’t lecture THEM on the merits of paper versus plastic!

The people at the table next to yours at the restaurant want to be alone. I have gotten pretty good at this one. As soon as I see his eyes wandering to the next table, I kick Charlie in the shins. Then I remind him of the time when he was just a little too curious about what the neighbors had ordered, and they reported him to the manager.

This is a scary world we live in. Technology is king. We rush through life, pushing buttons and entering domains. We are all stressed, lonely, and frantic. People who need people are indeed the luckiest people in the world.


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